The city is awarding Madelaine Chocolate Company, which has struggled to stay open in the Rockaways since Hurricane Sandy, $13,200,000 in recovery funds. The business sustained $50,000,000 of damages in the storm and the owners had to put it up for sale last year. The Daily News reports that this funding will allow the company to double its current number of employees and stay open in its current home. (The staff of 400 was reduced to 100 after the storm.) Jorge Farber, one of the owners, told the News, “We are looking forward to being able to hire, over the next two years, a significant number of employees, many of whom have been waiting to come back to work.”
Madelaine has been in the Rockaways for 65 years and was once the largest private employer in the area — this boost is great news for the neighborhood.
Stay safe and warm tonight, Queens! This afternoon, Mayor de Blasio announced that all schools are closed tomorrow, parks close this evening at 6 pm, and alternate side parking is suspended today, Tuesday and Wednesday. Subways will run on a limited schedule after 7 pm and commuter trains stop at 11 pm. Finally, all non-emergency vehicles have been ordered off the streets after 11 pm tonight. Keep up with the most recent blizzard updates through the Twitter accounts of the Mayor’s Office and NotifyNYC. UPDATE: Subways and other mass transit are closing tonight at 11 pm.
And if you’re on the lookout for a snow day adventure, Rockawayist published a great winter guide to the typically summertime destination. And yes, you can still rent a board and a wetsuit at Boarders Surf Shop in the dead of winter.
Last week we noted that the Parks Department released a Request For Proposals for the “installation, operation, and maintenance” of up to ten retail stands along the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk. Unexpectedly to us, the RFP proved to be controversial to Rockaway residents and business owners. They were upset that the Parks Department didn’t consult them on the proposal beforehand, and also worried that new vendors would take away from local, already struggling business. The New York Daily News reports that, in response, “Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver on Tuesday told members of Queens Community Board 14 the agency might change the proposal or abandon it completely.” Right now, the RFP has been put on hold.
The former Tubridy’s Bar, located on Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 109th Street, is being eyed for hotel development. So says DNAinfo, who reports that In Good Company Hospitality Group and JBS Project Management presented plans for a four-story “luxury hotel with a pool, restaurant and ocean views.” The plans are in preliminary stages, with the hope to open in 2017.
One of the owners of the In Good Company Hospitality Group, Terence Tubridy, is related to the former owner of Tubridy’s Bar, which closed back in 1989. The plan is to close on the bar property and then seek zoning changes to build. Tubridy sees the hotel as an important investment to an often underserved neighborhood: “We feel it’s the next step in revitalizing Rockaway and hopefully, it might open doors for [the] city to realize there’s a gem down here they haven’t invested in,” he told DNAinfo.
Ah… remember when Queens was this warm? The Parks Department has released a Request For Proposals for the “installation, operation, and maintenance” of up to ten retail stands along the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk, presumably for next summer. It looks like the spaces will strictly be for retail concessions — no food. The Parks Department will offer a site tour for prospective bidders; the sites are at various locations around the boardwalk. Now let’s close our eyes and pretend like we’re there!
Friends of Rockaway has partnered with the non-profit St. Bernard Project to continue rebuilding in the Far Rockaways post Hurricane Sandy. The goal is to bring 60 families who have been displaced by Sandy for more than 800 days now back to their houses in 2016. The rebuilding work will continue until each family is home. Friends of the Rockaway is currently recruiting volunteers — “We’re building a team of talented, passionate, and flexible AmeriCorps members to get the job done,” the organization announced on Facebook today. If you’re interested, you can apply to be an AmeriCorps member at the Friends of Rockaway website.
On a related note, DNAinfo reports that the city has started holding public hearings in all five boroughs on how to spend close to $1 billion in federal Hurricane Sandy relief dollars. The Queens meeting is tonight, 7 pm, at Beach Channel High School, 100-01 Beach Channel Drive.
It’s time to tree-cycle and e-cycle. To promote eco-friendly practices — and help New Yorkers avoid a new state law imposing $100 fines on residents who leave electronics on the curb for pickup — the Queens Botanical Garden will host the 12th annual E-Waste Recycling Event on Sunday. Done in partnership with the Lower East Side Ecology Center and sponsored by TekServe, this six-hour event allows participants to drop off unwanted or non-functional computers, printers, cell phones, video games, tablets, and other gadgets in the parking entrance. (Click here for a full list of acceptable items.) Garden employees will make sure that they are disposed of in the proper ecological way. On the same day and in the same spirit, the garden will host arts-and-crafts activities using recycled and repurposed items.
Meanwhile in response to recent holidays, the NYC Parks Department will host MulchFest 2015 all weekend at various spots throughout the five boroughs, including 13 Queens green spaces. Residents can bring trees to these spots to be recycled into mulch that will nourish plantings across the city. In some places, NYC Parks employees will chip the wood and give bags of mulch back to the tree donors. Details for all three events are on the jump page.
The Addabbo Family Health Center, located along Central Avenue in the Far Rockaways, is getting a major addition. The Daily News reports that the health center, serving one of the most medically underserved parts of Queens, is taking over vacant, city-owned land to expand 18,000 square feet. The $16,000,000 expansion will increase Addabbo’s capacity by 50 percent, holding exam rooms and new specialists in podiatry, endocrinology and ophthalmology.
The project will also create around 60 full-time jobs and 100 construction jobs. Work on the expansion should last until 2018.
Conch Playground, located on Beach 49th Street between Elizabeth Avenue and Beach Channel Drive, is one of the 35 New York parks that will receive capital funding through the Community Parks Initiative. And the Parks Department is kicking off renovations by holding a community meeting tomorrow, December 16th. According to a press release, “Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski and representatives of Partnerships for Parks and the Queens Capital Projects team will join community members to get their input and feedback on what they would like to see in the upcoming renovations to Conch Playground.” Currently the park has playgrounds and handball courts.
The meeting will be held at P.S. 105 The Bay School, 420 Beach 51st Street, from 6 to 8 pm.