The only ramp in Rockaway Park, it was closed last spring due to safety concerns, leaving both local residents and the volunteer fire department with nowhere to launch their boats.
For the volunteers the ramp serves as an important resource, providing a place for the department to launch its rescue boat when responding to calls around Broad Channel and the Rockaway Peninsula.
"It's a vital part of our rescue services that we provide," said Andrew Knee, volunteer fire department chief. "Without the ramp, we had nowhere to launch."
City Councilman Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) worked to secure $450,000 in the city capital budget for the project after his office received many calls complaining about the closure of the ramp. Addabbo described the 30-year-old ramp as a great asset for the community and said its reopening marked a "great day for Rockaway."
State Assemblywoman Audrey Feffer (D-Rockaway Beach) and Rita Giarmita, superintendent of Region 5, also attended the event.
"You can honestly say this was a work of love," Giarmita said. "I can't wait to get jet skis."
After its yearlong closure, Rockaway residents were pleased to see the ramp open again to the public.
"Everyone in the community is very excited about this," Mary Lenihan said. Lenihan's son John recalled using the ramp when he attended Beach Channel High School, but now he perceives the ramp as an alternative boating route.
"It'll be a better asset for people to commute," said John Lenihan, a member of the Rockaway Park Homeowners and Residents. "We need better transportation in Rockaway." Part of the ramp's appeal is that it allows boaters to launch in shallow water, he added.
The ramp's repairs were done in conjunction with a floating dock behind the Beach Channel High School, located next to the ramp, Addabbo said. David Morris, the high school's principal, admitted he did not even know that the ramp existed when he first arrived at the school.
The speediness of the ramp's reopening was a surprise to all.
"I don't know if anyone believed this would be opened before Memorial Day," Addabbo told the crowd. Morris expressed the same pleasure to the crowd.
"I'm really pleased they were able to do it as quickly as they did," he said.
Reach intern Jennifer Misthal by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 229-0300, Ext. 173.
©2004 Community News Group
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