Yesterday, the artist Geoff Rawling started painting a mural along Beach 116th Street in the Rockaways. The mural will be right along the intersection of Newport Avenue. Work will last through the weekend, and should be finished by the middle of next week. According to the Beach 116th Street Partnership, Geoff Rawling has designed many murals in the Rockaway and has a relative amount of freedom to improvise with his design. For now, he’s planning a welcoming mural that will show a beach scene and silhouettes of beach goers that will look like people waiting at a bus stop — there is a bus stop right in front of the wall. Stay tuned for the final product!
The New York Transit Museum just announced a nostalgia ride all the way from its Downtown Brooklyn location to the Rockaways. On Sunday, August 3rd, the Museum will send a fleet of postwar subway cars to Rockaway Beach — passengers will ride on a variety of cars introduced between the 1940s and 1960s. They include a rare Second Avenue Subway R11 prototype model labeled the “Million Dollar Car” when first introduced in 1949, as well as the R40, a futuristic model introduced in 1968. During the trip itself, the museum staff will display transit artifacts as part of a “hands-on history” activity. Once in the Rockaways, riders will be able to spend a day at the beach before heading back to the museum.
Tickets cost $50 for adults and $25 for children, with discounts for museum members. To purchase tickets online, go here.
Today, the Rockaways got a brand new playground. The Queens Parks Commissioner, local pols and members of the community cut the ribbon at the new Beach Channel Playground, located on Beach 79th Street between Beach Channel Drive and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. The city spent $1,250,000 to convert an asphalt lot into an amusement-themed playground, inspired by the Rockaway Playland amusement park that once stood several blocks away. It includes skee ball, milk bottle games, a “fun house area” and a carousel-inspired spray shower. The ferris wheel-themed climber is pictured above.
There are separate play areas for kids ages 2 to 5 and 5 to 12. The project also includes new benches, fencing, trees, plantings and upgraded utilities. According to the Parks Department, 36 percent of the site was built from permeable materials that can capture stormwater and reduce runoff.
Community opposition rages on in regards to homeless shelters opening around Queens, despite the fact that Queens does not have that many homeless shelters. First off, Queens Courier reports that 200 residents showed up to a public hearing regarding the homeless shelter at the former Westway Motel on Astoria Boulevard. During the two hour meeting, according to the Courier, residents “raised concerns over community safety, overcrowding of schools, increase in property taxes, environmental studies of the area and crime.” They also expressed outrage that the Department of Homeless Services did not inform them about opening the shelter ahead of time. A member of the United Committee Civic Association stated, “It was a deliberate, furtive and covert operation reeking of disrespect of our local elected officials, community leaders and the community at large.” Reps at the DHS countered that they entered crisis mode in June due to a lack of capacity and a growing need for shelter, forcing them to find last-minute housing.
Another homeless shelter proposed for the Rockaways has residents up in arms. The Wave posted on its Facebook account a letter from the DHS outlining a “7-Day Community Notification Protocol for Emergency Shelter Siting.” The letter essentially outlines the plan for moving homeless families into the building. One elected official told The Wave, “This administration is going to do what it wants to do, whenever it wants to do it, and the people be damned.”
Kiefer Sutherland, Andre the Giant, Molly Ringwald, and a great white shark are coming to Queens this summer. So are some surfing penguins, college-educated monsters, and an evil hairless Sphinx cat. With support from local businesses and the NYC & Co. Foundation, the Rockaway Civic Association is hosting Beach Flix 2014, a series of free movies screened at different spots along the Rockaway peninsula. The flicks start around dusk, and the venues run from Beach 73rd Street to Beach 126th Street.
It’s hard to keep track of all the controversial plans to open homeless shelters in Queens, and today the New York Daily News reports on another proposal upsetting the community in the Rockaways. The Department of Homeless Services is planning to begin housing 155 homeless families at 316 Beach 65th Street, the former Daytop Village drug rehab center. It’ll be operated by Housing Bridge, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit. This will be the first homeless shelter for the Rockaway peninsula.
As it goes in these stories, surrounding residents and local pols expressed anger with the plan. “Without any talk of essential services being added to Rockaway, this is not a good proposal,” stated City Councilman Donovan Richards. The community says it wasn’t alerted that the DHS wanted to convert this site, with the DHS telling Councilman Richards it had “no plans to build anything there” earlier this summer. The DHS, on the other hand, stated that “the suggestion that we promised not to use a facility that is perfectly suitable for homeless families when we are facing a record demand for adequate shelter is false and regrettable.” The organization says it is facing pressure to house a growing population of homeless New Yorkers.
NBC News ran a report on the commuters who take the Rockaway Ferry into Manhattan, and their fight to keep the service going. Since Hurricane Sandy, the city extended the ferry service four times, but announced they did not plan to extend it past October. The commuters NBC spoke with expressed similar sentiments: the ferry is convenient, affordable, and much faster than the bus or subway. As the video states, they feel that it is “essential to their survival.”
The city says that the ferry doesn’t make financial sense, calling it “by far the highest subsidy for any public transportation in New York.” A spokesperson says that the city is still crunching numbers to find any way to make the service viable.
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.”
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.
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.”