07/11/14 2:00pm


Camp Rockaway exceeded its Kickstarter fundraising goal of $50,000, meaning that Rockaway Beach should get a fancy, landscaped campground site at Jamaica Bay. But this Village Voice article wonders how realistic the plan actually is. Right now there are a number of factors still unclear: the location, the status of that location, and the actual building proposal. And questions remain on what kind of zoning will permit a campground, especially since most of the land surrounding Jamaica Bay is zoned for park use.

The man behind the plan, Kent Johnson, owns a building and design company and spent nearly a year coming up with a schematic and feasibility study for Camp Rockaway. He will use the 50K raised to navigate the DOB approvals process, and says that private investors will provide the next round of funding after that. It’s worth noting that, according to the Village Voice, “Looking at the Kickstarter, an official with the Department of Planning was a bit flummoxed.”

How Realistic Is a Luxury Campground at Rockaway Beach? [Village Voice]
All Camp Rockaway coverage [Q'Stoner]

07/09/14 4:00pm


This weekend, Le Fooding Beach Club comes to Rockaway Beach. It’s three days of eating, in which five chefs serve picnic dishes to celebrate the return of the Beach 97 concessions after the destruction of Hurricane Sandy. Today Gothamist chatted with three of the chefs participating, Momofuku Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi, LA-based chef Ludo Lefebvre and the man behind Rockaway Taco, Andrew Fields. Fields shared his thoughts on the current food scene in the Rockaways and how the neighborhood has changed since rebuilding:

Rockaway Beach has been through a hefty share of ups and downs in its one hundred year existence. Last year was really chaotic in getting things put back together. It was really awesome to see everyone in the neighborhood stay focused on positive change and everyone was forced to upgrade infrastructure of homes and businesses. The movement this summer feels much more composed and plentiful. There is still plenty to do to in the ongoing rebuild, but the overall tone is to continue to make progress!

There are no more tickets for the Saturday and Sunday festivities, but you can still attend the noon and 2:15 pm seatings this Friday. Ten percent of each ticket goes toward a charity involved in restoring the Rockaways.

Christina Tosi & Other Chefs Pack Picnics For 3 Day Rockaway Beach Club [Gothamist]

Image by Miss Buttercup

07/09/14 3:00pm


A residential development is coming for 133 Beach 5th Street, off Seagirt Avenue. New York YIMBY spotted renderings from the project architect DJ Associates; Beachfront Estates LLC is the developer. According to a DOB building application, the 35,557-square-foot building will be split into 23 residential units. There won’t be any commercial space.

Construction hasn’t started up at the site yet, which is currently a vacant lot. As YIMBY states, “133 Beach 5th Street is an opportunity for piecemeal redevelopment, though the design must account for a future where events comparable or worse than Sandy will occur with greater frequency.”

Revealed: 133 Beach 5th Street [New York YIMBY] GMAP

07/03/14 11:03am


One thing that the good people of Queens cannot be accused of is a dearth of patriotic flag displays.

Old Glory is found waving everywhere hereabouts, and is particularly conspicuous in the lead up to the Fourth of July holiday. Independence Day in my neighborhood, Astoria, means that in between the flags, there will be a pall of BBQ smoke hanging about in the air and every neighborhood dog will be hiding in the bathtub when the sun goes down and the neighbors begin to detonate their fireworks.

More after the jump. (more…)

06/30/14 2:00pm

topless rockaway

This month two artists opened a temporary gallery in Rockaway Beach. The gallery, Topless Rockaway, is in a former eye doctor’s office that had been abandoned since Hurricane Sandy hit. The artists, Jenni Crain and Brent Birnbaum worked with the landlord to renovate the space, pulling down old drop ceilings. They told DNAinfo that they preferred being in Rockway over gallery-heavy neighborhoods like Bushwick and Chelsea because of the community feel.

The pair hope to have four exhibits over the course of the summer. Topless Rockaway is at 90-20 Rockaway Beach Boulevard and is open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 8 pm and by appointment.

Artists Open Gallery Space to Help Revitalize Empty Rockaway Storefront [DNAinfo]
Temporary Gallery Moves Into Sandy-Damaged Space [NY1]

Photo: Topless Rockaway

06/27/14 4:00pm


596 Acres and Rockaway Wildfire are hosting a community meeting concerning the immediate use and long-term development of vacant public land around the Rockaways. Residents are encouraged to attend and share their ideas and proposals for community gardens. 596 Acres will provide updates on the Arverne East project, the Edgemere Urban Renewal Plan and public programs at the new Edgemere Farm at Beach 45th Street. They will also be organizing for new community spaces around the Edgemere neighborhood. The meeting will take place next Thursday, July 3rd from 7 to 9 pm, at 74-16 Beach Channel Drive. There will also be food provided. For all the details, go here.

Photo via Facebook

06/27/14 1:00pm


It’s a multi-faceted event for a multi-purposed cause. On Saturday, the eighth annual Rockstock and Barrels Festival will fill the Rockaway peninsula with about 11 hours of live music, gnarly surfing contests, rad skateboarding exhibitions and fun beach games. There will also be art, clothing and food vendors. Last year’s extravaganza attracted about 8,000 attendees, including surfers from as far away as California and musicians from all over the United States, to an area that was still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. This year’s event should be even better and proceeds will support the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit that supports everything the peninsula has to offer, including the work of artists, writers, musicians and all lovers of surf and beach. 

Details: Rockstock and Barrels Festival, Boardwalk at Beach 90th Street, Rockaway Beach, June 28th, 10 am to nighttime. Free.

List of scheduled main stage performers: Matthew Kiss, 11 am; The Mourning War, noon; The Wordy Bums, 1 pm; Exit Verona, 2 pm; The King’s Heartbeat, 3 pm; Groundswell, 4 pm; Symptom 7, 5 pm; and Grim Pickens, 6 pm.

List of scheduled second stage performers: John Simonelli, 10:30 am; Ethoscope, 11:30 am; The Ready Hentchmen, 12:30 pm; The Disfunction, 1:30 pm; Rat-Trap Bumpkin, 2:30 pm; Kilzone, 3:30 pm; The Rev Jefferson, 4:30 pm; Shipwrecks, 5:30 pm; and Indaculture, 6:30 pm.

Plus, Kooly Chat will be the DJ all day long.

Music (more…)

06/27/14 11:00am

The sun, or as Mitch refers to it, the “burning thermonuclear eye of God,” was beating down mercilessly, or as merciless as 80 degrees can get. Unlike Rockaway peninsula residents, I’m not a beach devotee; like Nixon, I keep my shirt and shoes on when walking in the sand, though I skip the jacket and tie, unlike Tricky Dick. We had made our way across the Gil Hodges-Marine Parkway Bridge and along the Riis Park beachfront, and thence along Rockaway Beach Boulevard, as described in Part One, Part Two and Part Three. Before kicking it in the head for the day, we made our way steadily toward the transit hub at Rockaway Park.


Saint Francis De Sales Church, at Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 129th Street, has been in existence since the early 20th Century and has seen the effects from the destruction of the World Trade Center, viewed clearly from the Rockaways; the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 on November 12th, 2001; and Hurricane Sandy, October 29-30, 2012, which devastated the peninsula. The church has played a major role in the succor and encouragement of the victims of these tragedies as well as a focal point of community gatherings and relief operations.



06/26/14 2:00pm


Ut oh. Just after reports that the fate of Rockaway Ferry service is unknown after October comes some bad news. Today The Wave posted this statement by Council Member Eric Ulrich:

“Despite the Council’s best efforts, the de Blasio Administration has decided not to include any funding for the Rockaway Ferry subsidy in this year’s budget. While I am pleased that we will be adopting yet another on-time, balanced budget without raising taxes, I am extremely disappointed that ferry service may end in October. The fight is not over and I am committed to working with all my fellow elected officials to put pressure on the Mayor to keep this vital lifeline going.”

Rockaway residents fought to extend the service past October, considering it provides a quick route to Manhattan at a reasonable price. The ferry service started up after Hurricane Sandy damaged subway lines into the neighborhood, and Bloomberg’s office extended it several times since.

All Rockaway Ferry coverage [Q'Stoner]

06/26/14 11:00am


As discussed in prior postings, Kevin Walsh and I decided to take Q’stoner with us to the very edge of New York City when we visited the Rockaways. Here’s Part One and here’s Part Two. This is the third installment, and Kevin will finish up the quartet tomorrow. Now, back to the beach.

This shot is looking back at Riis Park, at the border of what must have surely been an enormous and quite recent industrial endeavor.

From Wikipedia:

The park was largely built on the site of the former Rockaway Naval Air Station, one of the first US naval air stations. Riis Park was designed by the politically powerful New York City Park Commissioner Robert Moses, who had also created Jones Beach as a state park further east on Long Island in 1929. Moses saw Riis Park as a Jones Beach for poor immigrants, and ensured that the location was accessible by public transportation and closer to Manhattan.


A vast wall of sand was found, dissimilar in color to the beach sand which the bathers and sun worshippers at Riis were gamboling about upon. This beach is now the built environment, it seems.

From ny1.com:

In the Rockaways, long stretches of sand are less weekend paradise and more construction zone. Forget your sun visor. This is hard-hat territory.

“It looks like hell,” said Kevin Boyle, a Rockaway community activist. “It’s not exactly ready for the top 10 list anywhere, but it’s coming along. I’m pretty sure by 2020, the boardwalk will be there and the beach will look good.”


It should be mentioned, by the way, that everybody seemed to be having a much better time than Kevin and myself. We were the two weird looking old guys walking around on the beach with cameras… the ones who looked uncomfortable and relatively pale. The suntans people sport out here are actually outrageous for this early in the summer.