2009-12-25 / Community

Firehouse To Become Rockaway’s First Green Building

Rockaway Institute For The Sustainable Environment Set For 2011 Opening
By Miriam Rosenberg

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall presents Rockaway Waterfront Alliance President Jeanne DuPont, RDRC Executive Director Kevin Alexander, Community Board 14 President Delores Orr and other community members with $1.5 million for construction of the new environmental institute. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall presents Rockaway Waterfront Alliance President Jeanne DuPont, RDRC Executive Director Kevin Alexander, Community Board 14 President Delores Orr and other community members with $1.5 million for construction of the new environmental institute. Plans are now underway for the first “green” public building in the Rockaways. The abandoned firehouse on Beach 59 Street is slated to become the Rockaway Institute for the Sustainable Environment (RISE), which is expected to open to the public in 2011.

While it is still in the predevelopment stage, last week Queens Borough President Helen Marshall formally presented Jeanne DuPont, the president of the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance (RWA), with a check for $1.5 million for the building’s redevelopment following a tour of the site.

“[The final structure] will include a rooftop hydroponics garden, a marine discovery center for school groups, a public art exhibition space, green collar job training and environmental programs for youth,” said DuPont, whose group is leading the way on the project.

An architect’s rendering shows what the entrance to the Rockaway Institute for the Sustainable Environment will look like when it opens. An architect’s rendering shows what the entrance to the Rockaway Institute for the Sustainable Environment will look like when it opens. Marshall also got a look at the plans being drafted by the architects Sage and Coombe.

“We will be using the existing two-story structure of the building, but updating all the mechanical systems as well as adding an elevator and two staircases in order to bring it up to code for a public building,” said DuPont. Construction of the institute will use an internationally recognized green building certification system know as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

According to the USGBC website, “LEED provides building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.” Some of the things taken into consideration will be energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction and improved indoor environmental quality.

Jonathon Gaska, the district manager for Community Board 14, was on the City Hall committee that selected RWA’s project proposal.

“It seemed the best and most interesting use of the site,” said Gaska. “When it’s done it seems like it’s going to be a wonderful facility.”

In addition to Marshall’s grant, Assemblywomen Michele Titus and Audrey Pheffer provided funding for the predevelopment stage of the project.

As the predevelopment phase draws to a close and design plans are finalized, a capital campaign is underway to raise the remaining funds needed to complete the project. “We still have a long way to go to raise funds to get the building done. The total cost for the redevelopment of the building is $3 million,” said DuPont, who added, “We will start construction next year at this time.”

Among those who joined DuPont in accepting the $1.5 million check from the Queens borough president were Kevin Alexander, the executive director of the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation; Delores Orr, the president of Community Board 14 and architect Jennifer Sage.

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