Rockaway Residents Turn Out For DCP Waterfront Planning
Transportation. Commerce. Recreation. Expanding water-oriented educational and cultural activities. Those are all possible uses for New York City’s waterfront. New York City’s Department of City Planning has embarked upon a project to identify sites along the entire shoreline for use and redevelopment. To that end, representatives from DCP gathered at York College last week to talk about their plans and get feedback and suggestions from Queens residents.
The framework for the development of the city’s waterfront will be laid out in Vision 2020 – The New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan. DCP representatives are visiting all five boroughs to get residents’ reactions to work already done and future ideas. Each borough is divided into ‘reaches,’ a nautical term for a part of the waterfront. In Queens there are five reaches, with the Rockaways being Reach 17. The peninsula also had the largest resident turnout at the June 2 meeting.
DCP Chair Amanda Burden told The Wave the meeting was a chance for residents to help create a new waterfront policy by letting DCP hear “at the local level how people view their waterfront, what they see about the challenges and opportunities, and where they see them.”
Of Rockaway Burden said, “[It] should be [a] tourist destination in some locations. It [has] one of the most compelling and gorgeous beaches in the United States. At the same time Rockaway has a very vulnerable shore. We have to be cognizant of the severity of storms and sea-level rise. So what we build there should be very durable and respond to what we call free-board, which is the first floor not having occupancy.”
“The 1992 plan took us to the waterfront,” said Morrella. “We are now taking that next step of taking us into the water itself.”
During a workshop session, planner Brendan Pollard explained the six sites of opportunity the DCP has designated for possible development in Reach 17. They are: ferry service on the west end of Rockaway, water access along Beach Channel Drive from Beach 120 Street to Beach 135 Street, the opportunity for a waterfront park between the marinas on Beach 80 Street and Beach 88 Street, use of the Arverne Urban Renewal Area, use of the waterways near the Edgemere landfill and the revival of Rockaway Community Park, and use of the shore in Idlewild Park.
“There have been a number of accomplishments since the 1992 plan on the waterfront for Reach 17, including a major effort to maintain and restore the water quality and the ecological integrity of Jamaica Bay; the ongoing development of the Arverne Urban Renewal Area and the restoration projects that have been ongoing with Rockaway Beach and the boardwalk,” said Pollard “Still there are a lot of opportunities to be realized. That’s what tonight is all about.”
For many Rockaway residents, such as John McCann of Beach 129 Street, the idea of a boat ramp was at the top of their list. But he was more specific.
“It shouldn’t be a boat ramp,” said McCann. “It should be a launch [for human powered boats].”
Others believed the ferry service in the Rockaways must be addressed head on, including using Beach 108 for the service.
“Beach 108 Street should be at the top of the list,” said Mike O’Toole.
It was suggested that there be a network of boat launches along Jamaica Bay, including one on Beach 59 Street connecting the beach and the bay.
Pollard listed the main concerns of Reach 17 in a wrap-up to everyone who attended the meeting.
“We did discuss a number of sites along the Jamaica Bay waterfront that could definitely be improved,” he said. “Some of the sites include the recently closed Edgemere Landfill and returning it to a natural state and the rehabilitation to Rockaway Community Park. We also discussed developing a connection between two [bodies] of water. Most notably on Beach 59 Street where there could be a connection between Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. … it would be to connect the entire waterfront and not only draw residents to the Rockaways back to the waterfront, but people, residents back to the waterfront from the rest of the city and the adjacent communities.”
The aggressive schedule, as Morrella put it, already has produced a preliminary list of goals and issues. Last week’s workshop at York College was the third of six that will be held. The sixth one will be on what is called the Blue Network.
“The Blue Network will identity opportunities for expanding the use of the water for transportation, recreation, education, for improving water quality and for the first time addressing the challenges of global warming and sea-level rise,” explained Morrella.
By early in the fall DCP will host another public meeting for recommendations and feedback. A final report to the City Council and the public is due at the end of 2010.
To make comments or suggestion go to nyc.gov/waterfront.