Above, The Glorified Tomato captured the last of the wooden boardwalk being demolished along Rockaway Beach. Badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy, the city is in the process of slowly rebuilding it — a project plagued with setbacks, delays and controversial designs. The city, however, just received $480 million from FEMA to help along the process. The entire rebuilding should (hopefully!) wrap in 2017, with portions of the boardwalk open by next year.
It’s been a slow news day, so here’s a fun #tbt we picked up from The Wave’s Facebook page. Rockaway Archie, a local, shared the above photo with this caption: “TBT My Father (Lou Romas) standing in the doorway of my Grandfathers Restaurant (George Romas) some time in the late 1930′s early 1940′s. Located on Rockaway Beach Boulevard across from Uma’s, Next door to Uncle Louie G’s.” We always appreciate the old school throwbacks.
Tonight, NYC Parks Architects and the Partnerships for Parks are holding a community meeting to get input and feedback on Grassmere Playground, located along Grassmere Terrace in Far Rockaway. The Parks Department is planning a big renovation here as part of the Community Parks Initiative, a program investing in smaller, under-resourced public parks around the city. Grassmere Playground is one of six parks in Queens to be reconstructed under the initiative.
If you’d like to give your feedback on improvements needed at Grassmere Playground, the meeting is tonight from 6 to 8 pm at P.S. 215, 535 Briar Place in the Far Rockaways.
Last week, FEMA approved $480 million in funding to build out the Rockaway boardwalk, severely damaged since Hurricane Sandy. Since rebuilding efforts kicked off, this project has been plagued with setbacks, delays and controversial designs. But DNAinfo reports that this money — a huge boost from the initial budget of $270 million — “is provided through a pilot program that is giving grants for one project as opposed to the usual process of incremental funding and incremental applications to FEMA.” DNAinfo also broke down how much money is going toward what — $199 million for sand barriers and boardwalk elevation, $263 million for 1 million new square feet of boardwalk, park benches, light poles, stairs and ramps. $18 million will be for administrative costs.
The entire rebuilding process is slated to wrap in 2017, although there will be portions of the boardwalk open by next year.
The city’s department of Housing, Preservation and Development has filed a permit to construct a 94,000 square-foot building in Edgemere, just west of Far Rockaway. The permit, first reported by New York YIMBY, calls for a 101-until building with 500 square feet of commercial space. The empty lot sits between Rockaway Beach Boulevard and the elevated Long Island Rail Road track close to the beach. Curtis & Ginsberg Architects is designing the project. The rendering above, from the architect’s website, is titled Edgemere West and is listed as unbuilt.
Edgemere, near the eastern edge of the Rockaway peninsula, is somewhat undeveloped on it’s ocean-facing side. It was a beach destination in the 1920′s but now is largely residential. Forgotten NY has a short history of the area with photos of the crowds that once flocked to the beach there and the huge hotels that once catered to them.
Does anyone have any insight into this project and why the city is choosing to develop the property itself?
What’s the proper neighborhood name for the Rockaways? To be honest, we ask ourselves that question all the time. So we’re passing along this article by the blog Narrow Backslacker asking that very question. The author is a long time Rockaways resident, a former journalism student and a book editor. Her final conclusion?
I’ve never come across any universally consistent rules for the name of our fair peninsula. Pour over writing old and new you’ll come across “The Rockaways,” “The Far Rockaways,” “Rockaway, NY,” “Driving out of Rockaway,” and so on. All the text evidence I’ve seen—and I’ve searched through published books and newspaper archives going back a century—indicates that there is simply no precise or exclusive name for our little corner of New York City.
Narrow Backslacker even provides a “Rockaway Style sheet” on when to use “Rockaway Beach,” “The Rockaways,” or simply “Rockaway.” And for journalistic writing, she recommends the generic Rockaway label, “as long as the specific neighborhood is clarified somewhere in the story.” There’s also a survey for locals to take on which term they use most often.
In Mayor de Blasio’s State of the City address today, he announced plans for a $55,000,000 city-wide ferry service to launch in 2017. DNAinfo has published a map of the proposed ferry route, which will connect both Astoria and the Rockaways to Brooklyn and Manhattan. The Astoria route — which will run out of a dock built for the Astoria Cove development — connects with Long Island City, Roosevelt Island, and East 34th Street in Manhattan. The Rockaway route makes a stop at the Brooklyn Army Terminal before ending up at Pier 11/Wall Street. The city ran the Rockaway ferry service after Hurricane Sandy but shut it down last October, despite protest from locals. Rockaway residents and pols hope to restore the service before 2017. The Mayor stated that a ticket for a ferry trip will cost the same as a subway ride.
Earlier today, Mayor de Blasio delivered his second State of the City address. Queens got many shout outs, particularly in regards to transportation and development. The main focus of the address, in fact, was the ambitious plan to build 160,000 market-rate units with 200,000 affordable units built or preserved over the next decade. de Blasio plans to push higher-density, yet more affordably priced development throughout the city. So it looks like the Court Square/Queens Plaza rezoning will be inevitable, with mandatory affordable housing.
Most notably, the Mayor said he wants to work with the community and Amtrak to develop 11,250 units of permanently affordable housing over the Sunnyside Rail Yards. This plan has been floating around for quite some time now, although not everyone thinks it’s a good idea. He wants to model the development off Stuyvesant Town, which has 11,232 regulated apartment units. As Second Ave. Sagas tweeted: “(You might want to fix the 7 line before adding a ton of potential new riders by building on top of the Sunnyside Yards.)”
The Mayor also spoke on development in the Rockaways, saying that the city planned to acquire blighted property in the area to build affordable housing. He envisioned “new affordable housing for thousands,” although he didn’t have anything to say about environmental or flooding concerns.
Finally, de Blasio promised Bus Rapid Transit for Woodhaven Boulevard, which is already in the works. It’s expected that Bus Rapid Transit will reduce commuting times up to 25 percent along Woodhaven Boulevard.
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.