2010-08-27 / Columnists

East End Matters...

The Best of Rockaway; Where’s The Urban Renewal
Commentary By Miriam Rosenberg

As we head toward the end of summer, the last few weeks on the east end has shown some of the best of those who live here. Volunteers came together and donations poured in as the 101 Precinct and its community council ran two successful events at O’Donohue Park this month.

First there was the National Night Out Against Crime on Tuesday, August 3. At the August 18 council meeting the commanding officer of the precinct, Captain Michael Lipetri, said of the event, “It was crowded. It was great.” He credited council president Justin Cauley and vice president Denean Ferguson for the wonderful job they did. On August 20 the NYPD’s annual Resource Day was seven hours of information, fun, games, entertainment and food. Again, the community council leaders pulled off a wonderful event. But accolades must also go to those who gave donations of merchandise or of themselves at both events this month.

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Apparently Arverne East has gone south. The hopes of building on the bungalow-filled land bulldozed during the administration of Mayor John Lindsey and left vacant ever since, seems once again be a pipedream. It took a bit of Googling, but a little history of the on-again, off-again so-called renaissance of the Arverne area was found on http://www.farrockaway.com- /arverne renaissance.html.

To sum it up, in 1964, city government decided that Arverne needed an urban renewal project. With apparently no plan of what to do next, the city sent in the bulldozers and gone were the bungalows and hotels that once stood there. From approximately Beach 34 Street west, vacant land, now overgrown with foliage, comprises the Arverne Urban Renewal area. Except, there has been mostly no renewal. Arverne by the Sea is still springing up with new homes on part of the area, but that is all. For the people who live east of Beach 59 Street, urban renewal are just words and promises that come every decade or so.

Hey, remember Technodome. That was supposed to be a combination casino, amusement park and sports entertainment center. According to reports at the time in the Daily News, there was even a suggestion that the land could house a mobile home park for those visiting the attraction. Thankfully, that idea went down the drain due to opposition by area residents and a lack of money on the part of the Canadian developer.

What is going on in Rockaway is great for the specific areas under development, but can any real renewal be accomplished when developers only care about their little piece of land and not the rest of the community?

Developers build new homes on the beach side and forget about the neighborhood just a couple of blocks north of that area, towards the bay.

Renewal and revitalization do not reach those already living in the area, just those new residents who are moving in to Rockaway. I’ve been inside the grounds of Arverne by the Sea. You wouldn’t think you were in Rockaway, except for the possible sighting of a subway train in between the homes. But, go outside and turn your back to the homes and the beach and you will see an area that is being left behind even as the developers continue to build new homes south of the area.

Yes, I know there is going to be a Stop and Shop and a Y, as well as other amenities, but will those amenities touch the lives of the majority of those who have lived in the area for so long, or will it create a divide between newcomers who will not need to venture into the ‘other part’ of the area they live in and long-time residents who believed urban renewal meant things would change for the better for them.

I have nothing against the Benjamin Beechwood – the developers at Arverne by the Sea. I even know someone who lives there. I just think that developers, any developers, should figure out a way to help current residents’ living conditions in addition to luring in newcomers to buy new homes.

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