2010-01-01 / Editorial/Opinion
Wave Wishes For The Year 2010
Moving into the second decade of the 21st Century, this year may well be a pivotal one for Rockaway. The peninsula’s revitalization has been underway for nearly five years and we need it to continue, and it looks as if we will succeed. Late in 2009, pilings for the new YMCA and Super Stop & Shop were driven. Money for the vital Transit Plaza was funded by the federal government. Things seem to be moving along on the development front and housing prices in Rockaway continue to stay high. What does Rockaway need in the coming year? Herewith, the short list: First, and foremost, we need to continue the downward spiral in our murder rate to zero. After a spate of killings at the end of 2006, the last three years were relatively crime-free. We need it to stay that way and our wish is that the police continue to do what they have been doing to stop the problems of guns and drugs, particularly in our public housing projects. Then, we worry about where the children who move into the homes at Arverne By The Sea and other housing developments are going to go to school. Despite the Department of Education’s statements that there are plenty of empty seats in Rockaway schools, we know better. With the exception of MS 53 in Far Rockaway, most other schools are already impacted by the building boom and will soon find that they are drowning in new students. We wish for at least two new schools in Rockaway – not counting the charter school planned by ABTS. We also hope for a reprieve for Beach Channel High School. Rockaway students need a comprehensive high school on the peninsula, not a few boutique schools they cannot access. Our students should not have to travel off the peninsula to attend public school. In the same vein, development means better transportation facilities. People are not going to move to Rockaway if they have no way to get off the peninsula to their job. That means improving the A Train subway access, the shuttle and adding many more express buses. The commuter ferry has proven to be popular during the summer season and not as popular during the winter. With the subsidy rapidly coming to an end, unless the ferry can increase ridership, there is little chance that it will be running this time next year. Money must be allocated to improve existing transportation alternatives and make the commute to Manhattan reasonable. That means the MTA and express bus service. We all know that the MTA is cutting back, rather than expanding. So we urge our legislators to work on transportation alternatives while funding better subway and express bus transportation to the peninsula. Next, we need to keep Rockaway as a beachfront community. That means longer beach hours, adequate lifeguards, more realistic use of the boardwalk and an end to high-density development along the beachfront. We wish for the development of Beach 116 Street that in cludes low-rise, three-story buildings with stores and res taurants on the street-level and apartments above. Give us those things in 2010, and we will look at 2011 with an increased vigor, determination and optimism. Keep them from us, and we’ll look with skepticism at the future of the peninsula.