It was an evening for venting and looking for action, as area residents listed various beach and boardwalk problems at a meeting with Community Board 14 parks committee members. It was a packed house at the Peninsula Rehabilitation Center’s Meditation Room on Tuesday night when board members were joined by Queens Commissioner of Parks Dorothy Lewandowski, the Rockaway Administrator of Parks Jill Weber and Parks Manager Roy Tellason.
“The [beach] garbage gets blown to Dayton Towers,” said Monica, who lives in the building, adding that more garbage cans are needed. “It’s frustrating.” Many others raised the issue of overflowing garbage cans and an insufficient number of them along the boardwalk and beach.
Walter Rogers, the former president of the Rockaway Rockies, said, “I’m blown away by the filth on our beaches of Rockaway. Parks needs to change their attitude and empty the trash bins, not once a day, because by midday those trash cans are already filled. The seagulls see the trash and they take care of that. They spread it around.”
Citizens are encouraged to call 311 with any garbage complaints. Those complaints will be forwarded to Parks Manager Tellason.
John Cori, the president of the Friends of Rockaway Beach, called for the replenishment of eroded sand that continually plagues the beaches. He also suggested a master plan for Rockaway’s beaches.
“We should consider a master plan … to make sure when there is money Rockaway has a plan,” said Cori.
Cori is among a group of residents who got together after the last parks committee meeting on June 25. Others in the group include the Rockaway Civic Association, the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, the ARF ARF, and the Gateway Bike and Boathouse.
The Joint Community Group’s presentation to the committee included suggestions on many of the problems residents spoke about during this week’s meeting. Included were suggestions on garbage, repairs and maintenance of the boardwalk, beach erosion and sand safety, and dog friendly initiatives. Others called for creating bike paths on the boardwalk, putting in ramps from the boardwalk to the beach, and extending lifeguard hours in September for an extra three weeks.
“It’s still viable beach weather,” said one resident.
Mary Moore said, “Fix what we have first,” pointing to the various areas of boardwalk surface and rails that currently are in disrepair along the boardwalk.
Lewandowski, Weber, and Tellason responded to many of the complaints. Lewandowski said that several million dollars have been put aside for beach replenishment and boardwalk repairs.
“There is $3 million that was allocated in the budget by the mayor that will supplement the Army Corps’ dredging of the Rockaway Inlet and bring sand into the 90s and into the 100s. That is happening,” said Lewandowski.
In addition there is $8 million in the budget to repair the seawall on the bayside from Beach 108 Street and the Freeway, as well as the $3.8 million contract for repairing the boardwalk and replenishing sand on the beach that was lost during Hurricane Irene. Also, this fall the Army Corps of Engineers will dredge the inlet and put sand back into the Beach 30s area.
Lewandowski also encouraged volunteerism to help keep the parks and beaches clean.
“We have over 120 organized groups across the borough in Queens that do volunteer service and work with us too, not only do work in parks and do events, but they also serve as advocates for us as resources to get things done,” said the commissioner.
In other matters, there are no showers scheduled to be installed on Beach 118 Street as has been rumored. A list of the streets where showers will be installed will be sent to CB 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska. As to repairing the lights on the boardwalk from Beach 40 Street to Beach 50 Street, the Department of Transportation, not Parks, is in charge of doing that.
In response to calls for it to meet more often, the parks committee voted unanimously to meet eight times a year, from February to September.
Additional reporting by Ana Solares