The fifth-grade student of PS/MS 114 asked their family and neighbors the following questions: If you were an architect, how would you redesign Beach 116th Street and Beach 129th Street? How can we improve the boardwalk and beaches in the Rockaways? The suggestions that follow are both aesthetic appraisals of design and architecture, and practical solutions to the problems that local residents have endured silently for so long. We invite your comments and suggestions as well.
- Joan Diehl, Creative Writing Teacher,
My mom thinks it would be a good idea to have public bathrooms on the beach. Also, since it is a hassle to pull the wagon through the sand, we should have large rubber walkways from the beach wall. To improve our boardwalks, we should have bike lanes along the side and water fountains. Last of all, our boardwalk that starts on Beach 126th Street should now be made of cement to withstand the power of the ocean.
- Colleen Bambury
My brother Ryan said that we should add more attractions on our beach and boardwalks such as: street performers, restaurants, ice-cream stands and carnivals. My dad, Mike McMahon, thinks that we need more security on our beaches and boardwalks because too many people come to them and take advantage of them and disrespect them. Our beaches can become very dirty in very little time, so I think we also need a program to clean up our beaches.
- Kayleigh McMahon
I interviewed my Dad, and this is what he said: I would redesign the south side of Beach 116th Street by demolishing the old buildings to make more parking for shoppers and beach-goers. I would also rebuild a nice model for activities to bond, like a movie theater or a bowling alley. I would even build these family centers and put in rooftop parking so the space could be used for both. Also, on the corner of Beach 116th Street and Newport Avenue, where the old diner was, there should be a 7-Eleven. This would be a great run-in-and-run-out store, with its own free parking lot, especially since there are few 24-hour convenience stores in Rockaway.
- Victoria McLoughlin
Redesigning Beach 116th was my mom’s favorite consideration, by far. She would start by knocking down the old hotels because they make the street look very dark and dingy. With the empty space, she would put something that was appealing to kids, such as a movie theater or an arcade. Having a movie theater or arcade would certainly give the block’s businesses more money— that street will be busier than Toys “R” Us on Black Friday.
- Grace Butler
My grandma has lived in the Rockaways her whole life and she has seen many changes in the Rockaways over time. If she were an architect she would redesign Beach 116th Street in a heartbeat! She feels that we must prevent littering in the streets and knock down the rundown buildings, and create more beach-appropriate stores and activity centers. She feels we can make the stores friendlier, with colorful signs and bright lights. Also, we need a large parking lot so that one does not get a ticket anytime you want to shop on this street.
- Emma Davey
To attract tourists or families, we need to have a boardwalk with restaurants and bike-rentals like Coney Island. For Rockaway’s new boardwalk, we need a Citi-bike rental area. For the safety of Rockaway residents and visitors, we need to remove the damaged jetties. Jetties also help to break the giant swells, so why don’t we replace them? I know that people like to surf in Rockaway, so why shouldn’t there be a surfboard rental shop? Not everyone can afford the equipment so they should be able to rent gear. Finally, I have family in Broad Channel who love the beach but hate the tolls. One month a year the tolls should be suspended. This is just another idea to make the Rockaways alive with people and families.
- Matt Tubridy
My mom feels that our beaches and boardwalk would be improved if there were blue mats (ramps) on every other beach block to accommodate residents with many small children and people who are handicapped.
- Sarah Haley
My grandpa, a Belle Harbor resident, told me that our new boardwalk must be higher and more solidly anchored than the old one. It should be clearly divided to keep runners, bikers, and walkers apart. It should be designed to also serve as a sea wall in case of another hurricane. Additional sand should be dredged up onto the beach jetties or rock groins might help to keep the sand in place. Perhaps planting beach grass on the dunes will offer additional storm protection.
- Ryan Murphy
I interviewed Carolyn and this is what she said: For 116th Street, I would get rid of the SROs or halfway houses that are located on the beach block. I would want to have the hotel closed as well. In that spot, they should make a movie theater or an arcade—entertainment for families. Even a beach-themed arcade like they have down at the Jersey shore would increase revenue for Rockaway. For 129th Street, there needs to be more parking during the summer. The empty lot on the corner would work well.
- TJ Mahoney
Once we get a boardwalk, it would be nice if it had concession stands. If you haven’t seen the Coney Island boardwalk, you should. It has rides, games, and snack stands. It would be nice if Rockaway had that.
- Kalista Licato
My mom Olga would plant trees on Beach 116th and Beach 129th Street. She would like the stores to have little gardens and be surrounded by flowerbeds. She would paint the stores in lively colors like red, blue, green, yellow and orange. Finally, she would like to add more benches.
- Sophia Shovkan