2013-03-01 / Columnists

Eye On Rockaway

Parks Department Plans Need Community Input
By Miriam Rosenberg

For most people in Rockaway life after Superstorm Sandy has been one of rebuilding and trying to get their lives back on track to normalcy.

Businesses throughout the peninsula have slowly been reopening. There are some areas that have struggled more than others. On Beach 116th Street proprietors have faced many obstacles. There is almost no transportation – the A shuttle is out and full service on the A Line will not return until sometime this summer. No transportation means no customers. Reports are that many store owners are finding it hard to get funding for repairs. Many businesses have had to relocate off the peninsula while renovations take place.

But, if establishments on Beach 116th Street can get themselves open by the summer, their busiest time of the year thanks to the beach crowds, there may actually be some hope. The Parks Department added to that hope when it announced that the beaches would be open for the 2013 beach season. But a wrench was thrown in local businesses’ plans when Parks also announced last week that they would be opening new concessions by the beach. Just what businesses in that area need – additional competition.

The concessions in other areas in Rockaway are successful since there are not a lot of places for those on the beach to go for food. But that is not the case on Beach 116th Street. There is a wide array of food choices such as pizza, Chinese food, Dunkin’ Donuts, and others who can give those hungry beachgoers what they want.

Instead of helping local businesses Parks will bring in new ones – apparently, without consulting area residents about the plans. The Rockaway residents first heard about the new concessions at a meeting with representatives from the department on February 21.

In an open letter to Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, Patrick Tubridy of Arverne wrote, “Do you know how hard it is for a yearround, tax-paying Rockaway business to get through the winter months? We pinch pennies to get to Memorial Day Weekend and dread Labor

Day, as it means the end of our money making season.”

A spokesperson for the Parks Department said that, “We are considering placing concession stands at Beach 116, but the location could be adjusted according to community input.”

Shouldn’t the community input have come before the plans? According to a NY1 report, residents can make their opinions heard during hearings this month.

If the city already went ahead with this planning what happens to the idea, put forward by this newspaper, to have an international design competition for the redesign of the boardwalk. As The Wave reported in its February 8 editorial the city didn’t say no to it. Recent developments show that Parks isn’t exactly sitting around waiting for the contest to take shape either. More importantly, residents this reporter spoke with last month thought such a competition was a good idea.

How about the idea by Parks to put some of the new comfort stations right in view of people’s homes? During last week’s meeting one Arverne homeowner said, “I don’t know if you realize, on Beach 66th on Beach 73rd there are homes that are just across the street, you’re essentially building restrooms in people’s front yards, backyards.”

Make your voice heard. Rockaway is our home and we must have a say in how it is going to be rebuilt.

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