Can’t say we’re surprised to see this report by DNAinfo that there are even more delays to rebuild the Rockaway boardwalk. The city announced it’ll need another three months to work on the design and address community concerns regarding waterfront access. Residents called for more access points and ramps along Beach 108th Street to Beach 126th Street, and the city’s new design is still awaiting approval. Reps for the city don’t think they will meet the original construction deadline of Memorial Day 2016. DNAinfo also shares that the city doesn’t have a contract yet for the concrete decking of the boardwalk, which is replacing the wood decking. So, things aren’t looking good for this project, but when are they ever?
Rockaway residents are not giving up their fight to keep Rockaway Ferry service, which the city plans to end after this October. Yesterday, residents held another rally to make the ferry service permanent. The group took the ferry into Manhattan, marched to the Staten Island and Statue of Liberty ferry, went up to Wall Street and then Federal Hall. This rally follows a previous one hosted by the Queens Public Transit Committee on the steps of City Hall.
While the city claims that the ferry service (which started up after Hurricane Sandy) does not make financial sense, commuters counter that it’s a fast, convenient and affordable transit route for an area that already lacks convenient public transportation.
There will be something sweet for foodies, green-living experts, nature lovers, youngsters, and even surfer dudes. Tomorrow, the fourth annual NYC Honey Fest will bring everything from monofloral honey to honey-infused desserts to beeswax-based cosmetics to the Rockaways. The daylong festival will include a bee-themed parade, a savory contest organized by the American Honey Tasting Society (submit form here), live music, film, a variety of food options, and children-friendly activities, such as hive-making and face-painting. More information and photos after the jump.
Now under construction in the Rockaways: Rockaway Roasters, a coffee cafe at 92-06 Rockaway Beach Boulevard. The Facebook page promises gourmet coffee (hot and cold), espresso, lattes, cappuccinos, an organic juice bar and more. It’ll be open seven days a week. There’s no official opening date yet, but it’s scheduled for the fall or winter of this year. GMAP
As the summer comes to a close, the NYC Parks Department released numbers on beach attendance for the season. According to Parks, the numbers were great — attendance grew by 22 percent citywide. For Queens in particular, 25 percent more people made it out to Rockaway Beach, with a total of 4,166,455 summer visitors. (The Bronx’s Orchard Beach saw the most growth in attendance, and Coney Island had the most visitors this summer at 11,453,890.) Pool attendance remained steady, with 1,600,000 visitors citywide. Finally, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the official closing day of city beaches, there were no drownings or tragic incidents.
Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver stated in a press release, “The growing number of visitors at our beaches is proof of NYC Parks’ continued commitment to maintaining and improving our facilities.” Rockaway Beach has seen significant improvement since Hurricane Sandy, with an influx of new sand and 48 of the more than 100 beaches open for swimmers this season. Boardwalk construction, however, will last until 2017.
Al Jazeera New York published an in depth, interesting piece about a natural gas pipeline called the Rockaway Delivery Lateral Project, now under construction in the Rockaways. The project met protest when it was proposed in 2012, but was ultimately signed into law by Congress just weeks after the Rockaways was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Now it’s under construction and will run three miles between Jacob Riis Park and Fort Tilden and under a golf course to connect to a pipeline run by National Grid. However, the article raises serious concerns about the company installing the pipeline, Williams Companies.
According to the article, the company is “the subject of a U.S. Chemical Safety Board probe because of a recent string of incidents.” That includes a petrochemical facility explosion in Louisiana, a pipeline explosion in West Virigina, a pipeline fire in Wyoming and others. (According to data collected by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, “Williams pipelines have been involved in at least 50 gas transmission incidents since 2006.”) While there is resistance to the company in the neighborhood, most residents don’t even know the project is going on. Activists tell Al Jazeera that “The review process was stacked against pipeline opponents from the start,” and then, of course, Sandy hit and most residents didn’t even have electricity to watch the news. If the timing was different, it’s very likely that opposition would have been much stronger, but as it is the pipeline will begin operating in November. Once it’s in, however, the danger doesn’t go away: “The pipeline goes in, and everyone will go back with their lives. That’s where the concern comes in, because everyone will forget,” says pipeline safety expert Mark McDonald.
The abandoned theater building on Beach 116th Street, in the Rockaways, is due for a makeover. Rockaway Times reports that it’ll be transformed into a comprehensive urgent care facility, retail shops and parking. Recent engineer reports show the building is structurally sound — it’s been empty for two decades — although a later addition to the theater will have to be reconfigured or replaced. Architectural drawings are expected in the next few months, and the project is estimated to cost between $6,000,000 to $8,000,0000. There isn’t much more information beyond that, and details of the building ownership are unclear. It’d be great to see this project come to light, although we predict some hurdles for this one along the way…
Earlier this summer the city announced that it wouldn’t include any funding for the Rockaway Ferry subsidy in this year’s budget. Rockaway residents, however, are fighting to keep this affordable and convenient link to Manhattan, which started after Hurricane Sandy. The Queens Public Transit Committee is holding a meeting to “fight for faster transportation and more opportunities” in regards to ferry service in the Rockaways. It is scheduled for this Wednesday, August 20th at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Beach 90th Street, from 7:30 pm to 9 pm.
Then, on Thursday August 21st, ferry advocates will hold a press conference on the steps of City Hall at 5 pm. Here are more details from the Transit Committee: “The people of Queens & Brooklyn will come together to fight for the ferry and for transportation equality. This is our chance to tell the Mayor to listen to the people and keep the Queens Rockaway Ferry to Brooklyn and Manhattan.” If you’re interested in attending, contact John Cori at (516) 509-8957 for more information.
The Beach 116th Street Partnership just finished up this great mural now on display along Beach 116th Street and Newport Avenue. The artist, Geoff Rawling, has painted a number of murals throughout the neighborhood. He started on this one at the beginning of the month. Proceeds from this spring’s Poland’s International Children’s Day festival (which happened on Beach 116th Street) funded the artwork.
Get on your bikes and ride… to the edible plants. This Sunday, the Rockspot Bike Tour, sponsored by the National Park Service, will depart from Firehouse 59 in Rockaway Beach at 10 am. Participants in this non-competitive event will pedal through the eastern section of the Rockaway Peninsula, exploring everything from natural vegetation to dunes to edible plants.
Get on your bikes again and ride… back in time. On Sunday, October 12th, a second Rockstop Bike Tour will lead participants from the Jacob Riis Batthouse through Gateway National Park to the western end of the peninsula. This time, the focus will be on sites of historical and environmental significance.
More information on these two tours is on the jump page.