Rockaway Park Eyesore To Be Demolished
The partially constructed and abandoned Rockaway Park condos adjacent to the Rockaway Wastewater Treatment Plant will be demolished this week and turned into two storage facilities for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), it was announced last Friday. In addition to the storage facilities, Councilmember Eric Ulrich announced, DEP will widen the sidewalks and beautify the property with greenery, located on the corner of Beach Channel Drive and Beach 104 Street. The cost of the project is $2 million. “This is an eyesore, unsafe and something had to be done here,” Ulrich said at the press conference. “In this instance our voices were heard quickly and demolition will begin this week.”
DEP officials state, the two low-profile storage facilities will store daily materials used at the plant, which is directly across the street from Scholars’ Academy which requested DEP wait until the end of the school year to commence demolition. The renderings are still subject to approval by the New York City Arts Commission and once that occurs, probably before the end of the summer, construction can begin on the facilities. Ulrich and DEP officials estimate the work to be completed by the end of the year. DEP finally purchased the abandoned property in 2008 for $5 million after the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) had tried, since 2005, to buy the property from owner Yehuda Cohen, but failed to reach a deal. According to Community Board District Manager Jonathan Gaska the bargaining went back and forth for years with no resolution. The Department of Buildings repeatedly issued stop-work orders. However, work continued on the site. Construction progressed to the point at which frames were built for more than 12 homes and most of the insulation wrap was completed. In March 2007 the city condemned the property and construction ended.
Gaska says the permits violated residential zoning laws which prohibit homes to be built directly next to a wastewater treatment plant and should have never gotten approved. “The saga of this site has been going on for five years,” Gaska said. “I am glad it is coming to an end and finally they will be demolished.”