Final RWA Meeting Held For Future Vision Of Rockaway
After four previous meetings to get the opinions of the residents of Rockaway from the east to west end, the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance hosted its final meeting before plans are released in approximately a month.
The February 7 meeting at Peninsula Hospital Center drew close to 35 people to help RWA and its partners, the Trust for Public Land and planning firm Jonathan Rose Companies, prioritize projects for a ‘vision plan’ for the area. “The last time we met, you had a few ideas,” said Matthew Lister of Jonathan Rose Companies. “You actually had a lot of ideas, 270. “Those ideas ranged from plantings and flowers to better lighting. From more boats that are powered by people to more boats that are powered to move people. Some residents wanted more dog runs and perhaps less dog poop. Some people talked about mobi-mats, oyster beds, even a pool on a barge …. There were ideas that ranged from very small ideas to very large ideas.
“There were some ideas that were a given …. Then there were ideas that we’re going to talk about tonight that might need a little more thought and development and potentially could become projects that community members could take on.”
The top suggestions from the previous meetings were broken down into categories and the ideas in each category were prioritized at Monday’s meeting. The ideas for connecting the east to the west included improving accessibility and amenities along the boardwalk, and examining the potential for creating a continuous greenway along the bay, potentially with new connections at 58 Street on the bayside and at Beach Channel Drive, expanding bike lanes and making the area more bike friendly and bettering signage. There were ideas for creating pedestrian and biking enhancements along beach to bay corridors, such as better lighting and unique paving materials, and increasing street programming such as festivals. There were ideas for boat launches and storage networks on the bay side at sites such as Jacob Riis Landing and Beach 88 to Beach 80 Streets; as well as the call for ferry service from the Rockaways. People debated the idea of improving amenities for beach-goers and improving the quality of life as well as extending the surfing areas in Rockaway. In approximately a month a document of recommendations will be released. “We’re going to put out recommendations that we’ve heard through this process,” said Andy Stone of the Trust for Public Land, who called the recommendations an action agenda for RWA. “That’s why it’s a process instead of one meeting …. . Then the key thing is, who wants to participate in helping to implement them.”
While the public meetings for RWA’s project were going on at the same time as the city was finishing its Vision 2020: NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, Jeanne Dupont – the president of RWA – said there is not much in that plan for the Rockaways.
“I think [any ideas for the peninsula] will come out of this room …. It will come from the ground up,” Dupont said. There were suggestions to create a focus group or committee to work with RWA. One of those who called for an overseer group was Deborah Smith- Ashby, whose family has been in the Rockaways for 100 years.
“I think there should be a committee of people in this room to work with you every step of the way to make sure the vision of the community is implemented,” said Smith-Ashby.
Jeanne Dupont, the president of RWA, responded by saying, “What I think should happen after the report comes out is we will reach out to people and say ‘are you interested in the idea of doing more work around one of the specific focuses as opposed to being more of the same kind of discussions and planning.’ We could do this forever. People are going to get burned out and not want to come to meetings anymore. It has to be much more specific.”