Shopping Center Cleanup
Far Rockaway residents and visitors saw a visible change in the center on Mott Avenue this week. Workers were cleaning trash out of stores and painting the steel gates on the empty stores.
For over twenty years most stores remained empty and the parking lot, sidewalks and stores full of trash as Rita Stark and her management ignored or refused efforts by businesses to rent the vacant stores. Community organizations including the RDRC, CAT Team, and the Bayswater Civic Association and public officials including Rep. Floyd Flake, Sen. Malcolm Smith, Public Advocate Mark Green and Borough President Claire Shulman failed to get Stark to stop the deterioration of the property at the center of Far Rockaway.
It was only this year, possibly as a result of a legal complaint that the parking area did not have properly marked handicapped parking spots, were deep holes in the pavement covered with asphalt and parking spots marked.
Councilman James Sanders Jr. has reported meeting with Rita Stark and discussing a possible grant for improvement of the shopping area. All Far Rockaway residents should be happy that funds might be available for the improvement of the center of our community.
However Rita Stark is the last person to be rewarded for the damage caused to the area over a twenty year period. Any available funds should be monitored by a board of concerned citizens designated by civic groups, tenant groups and block associations in the Far Rockaway area.
In these times of budget cutting, we would not need vast sums to complete the revival of the shopping center. New businesses should get free rent in exchange for investing their labor and material in preparing their stores for business. Small business loans should be made available to purchase inventory.
The parking area has long been filled with the cars of commuters from the Five Towns who park all day and take the A train to work in Manhattan.
To make parking available for shoppers a decal should be issued to customers using one of the stores located in the shopping center. Community residents using Thriftway Drugs, Capital One Bank, Snow White Cleaners, Associated Supermarket and the new stores coming in would have a place to park. Nassau residents might learn to shop in our stores when they get off the subway.
It was good to see the gate repair was being done by a crew from Coastal Siding, owned by a peninsula resident. The rebirth of the Far Rockaway Shopping Center will help the whole peninsula.