2008-10-17 / Front Page

YMCA Waiting Game May Be Over

By Nicholas Briano

The much anticipated addition to the Arverne By The Sea development, a new state of the art YMCA, was put on hold nearly a year and a half ago at the insistence of an ad-hoc citizens committee in order to buy them time to raise additional funds for a bigger pool and an enclosed gymnasium.

The YMCA "Coming Soon" sign still hangs above the site, a year and a half after the project was put on hold to secure additional funds to expand the facility. The YMCA "Coming Soon" sign still hangs above the site, a year and a half after the project was put on hold to secure additional funds to expand the facility. Time passed, however, and new funding was always just over the horizon, but never quite appeared.

With the cost of the project rising with each passing month, however, the reality seems to be that additional funding will not arrive and time is running out.

The year and a half delay has left nothing but a big pile of untreated dirt and a nice big glossy sign that reminds Rockaway that the YMCA is still "Coming Soon."

How soon? CEO for the Benjamin/ Beechwood LLC, Gerri Romski, says the preliminary stages of development are moving forward, but he is still unable to offer a specific timetable for the YMCA's opening.

"There is still some hope that money will appear in the winter months," Romski said. "But at this point we are proceeding with the original plans."

He continued to say that they are in the process of getting the work permits for the site and hope to drive the piles or basis for foundation into the ground by the end of this year.

The original plans were put on hold to try to get additional funding from a Port Authority of NY/NJ fund that is aimed at development in air traffic affected areas. This fund could provide the necessary $6 million to expand the pool from four lanes to six and enclose the outdoor basketball courts, a demand originally made by the ad-hoc community committee.

One of the ad-hoc committee members, Dan Tubridy, has come to realize, along with the rest of the committee, that Mayor Bloomberg is ignoring the Rockaway community and has no intentions of providing the YMCA with additional funding.

"We have been recently informed that the mayor is not supporting the YMCA expansion," Tubridy said. "He is a Manhattan minded mayor who has been aware of our request for help in the expansion and has done nothing."

He added that Bloomberg doesn't deserve the community's support for an additional term if he continues to ignore and turn his back on Rockaway.

"He could march in our parade, now we must march him out of City Hall," Tubridy said. "He is not doing his job because he is not an outer-borough mayor, whose rules simply don't apply to us here on the beach."

The initial communications with local elected officials about the YMCA took place on October 10 of last year, when Senator Charles Schumer and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall sent separate letters to the mayor requesting that the extra money for the facility's amenities be taken out from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey capital fund.

Those letters were joined with another sent to the mayor by Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska, who also requested that the funds for the planned YMCA on Beach 73 Street come from The Port Authority of NY/NJ.

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