SUMMER FUN: Sandy will not stop playtime in Rockaways

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A surfer heads into the Rockaway Beach waves prior to the official Memorial Day weekend opening. Photo by Steve Mosco
A woman walks her dog on Rockaway Beach as a construction vehicle makes its way down the beach. Photo by Steve Mosco
A construction worker hauls lumber in an effort to get Rockaway Beach ready for opening weekend. Photo by Steve Mosco
Comfort stations spring up on Rockaway Beach amid the fast-paced reconstruction of the famed boardwalk. Photo by Steve Mosco

During the darkest hours of Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath, one fact remained true in that swirling tide of uncertainty: Summer was sure to return to the Rockaways.

The superstorm that left the beachfront’s boardwalks in ruins did not change the city’s natural course of seasons. Beachgoers would be back, pressing the city to replace and improve all that was lost.

Sandy’s destructive force reduced the iconic 5 1/2-mile-long boardwalk at Rockaway Beach to scraps of wood, snapping the structure like matchsticks and leaving only the concrete pylons behind.

But with a 24-hour-a-day commitment to rebuilding, the city Parks Department said summer visitors will meet new amenities when they reach the beach this season.

“Rockaway Beach will officially open Memorial Day weekend, just as it has every year before the hurricane,” said a Parks Department spokesman, adding that the boardwalk itself will not be completely built in time for Memorial Day weekend. “We are going to have the same complement of lifeguards and we will be open from one end of the beach to the other.”

The original boardwalk stretched from Beach 73rd to Beach 109th streets, and all along that expanse the city is building new boardwalk islands, concrete plazas, comfort stations and ramps leading from parking areas directly to the sandy beach.

Just over a week before the beach’s official opening, workers were seen hauling scraps of wood and pouring cement as the sun beat down and the beach season drew closer.

The entire cost of recovery in the Rockaways, including debris removal, is $140 million, according to the Parks Department.

Residents who call Rockaway Beach home, even during the winter months, believe beachgoers will arrive and pack the shore as if the hurricane never happened.

“I don’t expect to have this much beach to myself by the time July rolls around,” said Audrey Halpern, sunning herself near Beach 97th Street a week before the official start of the season. “We live in a city of concrete and traffic; people want to come here to get away from everything for a day.”

Halpern was not the only one taking advantage of the spacious shoreline. Numerous others walked their dogs, ate lunch, built sandcastles and surfed while dodging tractors and ignoring the bustle of construction crews just a few sand mounds over.

Meanwhile, businesses at the beach are also busy returning to pre-hurricane form. Rockaway Taco, at 95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd., reopened at the beginning of May with crowds flocking to the small wooden shack almost immediately.

Other businesses that depend on the summer crowds, including Healy’s Bar and Grille, at 108-07 Rockaway Beach Drive, and Bungalow Bar, at 377 Beach 92nd St., are also up and running, ready for the crowds.

But those crowds need a convenient way to travel from the far reaches of the city to enjoy the sun and surf in the Rockaways. Luckily, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said A train service is being restored ahead of schedule, and the critical link from the peninsula to the rest of the city will be restored May 30, officials said.

“Our system in the Rockaways, like life itself in that area, was devastated,” said acting MTA Chairman Fernando Ferrer, updating the restoration’s progress at the South Ferry subway station in Manhattan May 16.

Transportation is the key to returning the Rockaways to the relaxation destination it had become in the years prior to the October superstorm. When Joey Ramone wrote the line “It’s not far, not hard to reach” in The Ramones’ 1977 hit “Rockaway Beach,” the Queens punk legend had no idea just how difficult traveling to the peninsula would get.

But the Rockaways needs visitors to rev the economic engine that is the beach, and getting the A train back is an important step in the return to normalcy, according to one Breezy Point resident.

“People have got to get here,” said Penelope Shalet, who lives near Jacob Riis Park, a popular and crowded beach. “If people don’t come back to the Rockaways, it can hurt the peninsula.”

A spokesman for the Gateway National Recreation Area said Jacob Riis Park will reopen as well on Memorial Day weekend, but Fort Tilden, a popular alternative, will remain closed this summer due to extreme erosion.

The Gateway National Recreation Area, which encompasses Jacob Riis Park and Fort Tilden, is a federally managed park and not in the city’s jurisdiction.

The furious nature of the city’s Rockaway Beach rebuilding process speaks to the importance of the beach to the economy of the city at large, according to the Parks Department.

“Along with our partners at the [city] Department of Design and Construction, the Parks Department has been working ’round the clock to reopen Rockaway Beach,” said Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski. “We’ll have the beach open, with access points throughout the peninsula and new, concrete boardwalk ‘islands’ surrounding beach hubs where boardwalk was lost.

“And our work will not end with this weekend’s opening — we’re now installing interim shoreline protections and working with the community and [U.S.] Army Corps of Engineers on plans for a replacement boardwalk and comprehensive, long-term protection.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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William H. Depperman from Brooklyn says:
Tell the Truth:

The Bloomberg-DeBlasio Agreement to Destroy
The Brighton Beach-Coney Island Boardwalk:

Yes, the Mayor should declare the Boardwalk a Landmark! But by remaining SILENT DeBlasio OPPOSES Landmark Status for the Coney Island-Brighton Boardwalk! The “Landmarking Process” normally takes one year, BUT the media HIDES the fact that the Destruction of the Boardwalk has already begun between Coney Island Ave. & Brighton
Fifteenth Street! What is needed is for DeBlasio to first issue an IMMEDIATE STOP WORK ORDER, which he can do easily despite the Court ruling which says “the City” MAY proceed To replace the Boardwalk with Cement and does NOT have to replace it with Hard Wood!

On December 7, 2014 the New York Daily News blipped an “EXCLUSIVE ARTICLE” reporting that City Councilman Mark Treyger had called for the Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate the entire 2.6 mile Boardwalk as “an historic site and landmark, which cannot be converted to concrete.” The article was declared an “exclusive” as a phony pretext for the other media NOT to report on the proposal to landmark the Boardwalk so that far fewer people would EVEN HEAR ABOUT IT! But landmarking the Boardwalk is an issue which would concern all New Yorkers! How do we know for a fact that Councilman Treyger and all the other Brooklyn and New York City politicians were in on this many-layered scheme and cover-up100%, and how do we know that Treyger was really acting in BAD FAITH in order to raise the issue of landmarking the Boardwalk before laying it to rest as if landmarking would not work (?), or it was too late, or there were too many problems? All of which are BIG LIES!

First of all, Treyger did not even lay out the shortest surest path to Landmark the Boardwalk! Namely Treyger did not demand that DeBlasio issue an IMMEDIATE STOP WORK ORDER to prevent any further destruction of the Boardwalk and openly call for cancellation of the Bloomberg cement project! Allowing destruction of the Boardwalk, which has already begun to continue is designed to send the false message of fait accompli, meaning already an accomplished fact that since the demolition has already begun therefore no one can stop it supposedly, an obvious BIG LIE! By choosing NOT to call a regular press conference with other politicians on landmarking the Boardwalk Treyger insured that FAR FEWER New Yorkers would ever hear about New York City’s devious scheme to destroy the Boardwalk and replace it with cement and fake wood under multiple false pretexts! By appearing alone with No other City, State or National Politicians Councilman Treyger provided a pretext for diminished media coverage and conveyed the belief that FEW other politicians ARE very concerned about the Boardwalk either! The Truth? Other politicians know they dare not open their yap on THIS Bloomberg scheme where presumably $billions are at stake! But if THEY appear to act unconcerned then no one else should be either! Then the issue must really be inconsequential! What did the Daily News actually report? What’s the truth? This Treyger episode describes a standard formula used by the Capitalist Dictatorship of Millionaires and Billionaires on virtually all issues: Treyger was put out in front of the proposal to landmark the Boardwalk by the Big Capitalists and developers themselves in order to lead it to defeat! Treyger serves the same purpose as the so-called “Friends of the Boardwalk” & “Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance!”

It is a fact that after Hurricane Sandy TWO AND A HALF MILES OF THE FIVE MILE ROCKAWAY BOARDWALK were largely untouched and will remain tropical hardwood. And the Long Beach Boardwalk was completely replaced with tropical hardwood! These facts are hidden by the Daily News which reported: “Park officials contend the substitute material (fake wood) is sturdier and much cheaper. It costs about $90 per square foot, compared to approximately $130 for real wood,” but then reported “Treyger (D-Coney Island) and other ‘lovers of lumber’ counter that they have already spotted cracks in the argument—and the concrete.” The News further reported: “The areas under the wooden portions of the Boardwalk sustained minimal damage after Superstorm Sandy, others said, noting the concrete stretches fared worse.” The article goes on to describe the lengthy landmarking process while knowingly covering up the fact that the Parks Department is in the early stages of demolishing the Boardwalk and just ripped out all the benches and half the railings between Coney Island Ave. and Brighton 15th Street in the pouring rain! The reason that DeBlasio, Bloomberg, Benepe, Silver and Jeffries all want to get rid of the Boardwalk is that the capitalist dictatorship intends to commercialize that 2.6 to 2.7 mile stretch beyond anyone’s most horrific nightmare, similar to the ongoing “River to River” gentrification/commercialization of 125th Street! This is the real reason crooked corrupt paid-off judges all discounted all the studies showing that hardwood was far superior to cement and plastic!

It would be a very large mistake, a mistake which is often made, to think that because DeBlasio has said nothing about the Boardwalk that means that 1.) He either does not know about it, or 2.) He knows about it, but is too taken up with other matters such as reacting to the Eric Garner Demonstrations and relentless media attacks targeting him and his wife Chirlane McCray, or that he does not think that it is important enough to openly state his position on landmarking the Boardwalk. So what is the only explanation which fits the facts? DeBlasio was the Public Advocate under Bloomberg! The Public Advocates is to act as a check on the Mayor’s actions if they are deemed harmful to the public good. If DeBlasio had a disagreement with Bloomberg and Benepe over the scheme to destroy the Boardwalk and replace it with cement and fake wood he would probably have said something then! But he did not! In fact, DeBlasio went along with Bloomberg on virtually everything while Bloomberg was mayor. When he was elected Mayor himself he dropped Bloomberg’s appeal on Stop and Frisk and gave City Workers a contract! Very good! But it is clear now that DeBlasio left all the “Big Ticket Items” alone! DeBlasio also agrees with Bloomberg’s plan to destroy the New York skyline by putting up hundreds of new el-cheapo junk tin can buildings in the center of Manhattan, some of which will use tropical hardwood for a large part of the interiors on the lower floors! Bloomberg, worth $33 billion in March, is the developers’ dream! DeBlasio has said nothing on that either! But it is a fact that the Coney Island-Brighton Beach Boardwalk is a de facto LANDMARK and historic site! But protection of the Boardwalk by the official Landmarks Preservation Commission can ONLY BE ASSURED if Mayor DeBlasio issues an IMMEDIATE STOP WORK ORDER to stop the ongoing demolition of the Boardwalk between Coney Island Avenue and Brighton 15th Street and cancel the cement/plastic scheme entirely! Failure to act immediately means at a minimum that DeBlasio passively supports the Bloomberg-Benepe staged-in scheme, carried out behind a wall of subterfuge!

The New York City Budget is $73.9 billion! The town of Long Beach replaced their entire Boardwalk with tropical hardwood for $40 million! Chump change for New York City! The “cheaper” argument is thus MOOT, VOID and FRAUDULENT! It should be noted that Treyger made his landmarking proposal probably only after reading a letter written by this writer to DeBlasio posted Online in local Brooklyn news websites. Although this writer did not propose that the Landmark Preservation Commission become involved the Boardwalk was described as a landmark and called on DeBlasio to issue an Immediate Stop Work Order, a request which was ignored!

What About the “Save the Rain Forest” Propaganda Campaign?

Where did we first hear about the “save the rain forest” campaign in regard to the Coney Island-Brighton Beach Boardwalk? Straight from the lips of people like Bloomberg! That should have alerted everyone immediately that the claim was bogus as being used! Note that it is a fact that if all the climate treaties were adhered to 100% by ALL the countries in the entire world that would have no effect whatsoever on the fossil fuels global warming runaway greenhouse effect! Ditto the fluorescent bulb campaign! The only way to reverse the runaway greenhouse effect is by abolishing the use of fossil fuels as an energy source worldwide. And that cannot be done under capitalism! Why not? Because the three pillars of capitalism are: 1.) The war industry (the military industrial complex), 2.) The OIL industry and 3.) the Banks! Is there anything which can supplant fossil fuels as an energy source? Yes there is! Tidal Electric Tidal Lagoon Technology plants have already been built and they are 3 to 4 times more efficient than nuclear power plants. There are also certain waterfalls such as the Kaieture Falls in Guyana with a total drop of 822 feet (5 times the drop of Niagara Falls) and Victoria Falls in Africa, the largest waterfalls in the world. The Kaieture Falls has been estimated to be able to supply the power for all industrial and residential needs for North and South America combined. No power is being taken from the Kaieture Falls and very little is being taken from Victoria Falls. The oil industry has made sure of that. There are at least 5 Tidal Lagoon Technology plants which have been built. One is in England, one is in France, one is in Germany, one is in the Russian Federation and one is in China. But the oil companies have put the kibosh on that. The game is Oil and Profit! Even though DeBlasio would never issue a call to Get Rid of Capitalism, a call which is needed, we are not obligated to play the fool and destroy the Brighton Beach-Coney Island Boardwalk, a New York City and American Landmark. Note that the relentless media attacks on DeBlasio and his wife Chirlane McCray are due to the fact that he is white and she is Black and that she acts as his primary advisor! McCray is also not merely “technically Black” like Obama. The term—of the Black Panther Party means not politically Black! That relationship undermines racial division, one of the main divide and conquer strategies of the capitalist dictatorship in the United States & worldwide! Failure of NYC government to stop demolition of the Boardwalk under overwhelming popular opposition proves once again that capitalism cannot be reformed! We Have to Get Rid of Capitalism!
Peoples’ Committee for Wood Restoration of Riegelmann Boardwalk 10 East 16th St., New York, N.Y. 10003 UNION LABOR DONATED PLEASE REPRINT AND DISTRIBUTE!
Dec. 17, 2014, 9:57 pm

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