CB 14 Economic Committee Recap. Boardwalk Vendors, Downtown Far Rock & Microgrids

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The Economic Development Committee of Community Board 14 convened on Monday, April 25 to discuss items such as beach vendors near Beach 116th Street, the revitalization of Downtown Far Rockaway and a proposal to bring a series of microgrids throughout Rockaway.

A representative from the Rockaway Beach Club, a group representing boardwalk vendors, came to the meeting to get input on the boundaries for boardwalk vendors near Beach 116th Street. The RBC proposed a two-block buffer zone, meaning vendors could only go as close as Beach 114th or Beach 118th Street. “We’re conscious about what mobile vendors we place and where we place them. We’re not trying to compete with business on Beach 116th Street. We’re talking about small ideas like the coconut water kids and lemonade vendors,” the rep said.

Brian Heffernan spoke on behalf of the Beach 116th Street Partnership. Heffernan initially said that the merchants weren’t given enough time to discuss the issue. The RBC rep said the mobile vendor permit process takes several weeks, so she was hoping for an answer, so the vendors could start the application process. Heffernan made a motion to expand the buffer zone to three blocks. Other Community Board members like John Cori made a motion to limit the buffer zone to one block. Heffernan’s motion passed, so once the boardwalk is up, vendors can only come as close as Beach 113th or Beach 119th Streets.

Representatives from the Economic Development Corporation were also on hand to discuss the $91 million committed by Mayor Bill de Blasio for the revitalization of Downtown Far Rockaway. The representatives explained some background on how the money was funded through the work of Councilman Donovan Richards and the Downtown Far Rockaway Working Group, created in October 2015. The group has met five times to discuss ways that Downtown Far Rockaway could be improved. The recommendations of the group were delivered to the mayor on February 1, who announced that he was committing $91 million toward the goals. The city is still gathering input to determine how the money should be used. The EDC is planning to hold a public meeting on May 12 so more concrete plans can be established. Some projects that are already being funded include DOT and DEP work, the new Far Rockaway library, SBS Storefront Improvements and Sorrentino Recreation Center improvements.

The Economic Development Committee also met representatives from the private company, ANBARIC, who came to discuss their proposal that they will be submitting to PSEGLI regarding a system of microgrids and a cable to bring renewable energy to Rockaway and parts of Long Island.  Their proposal is in response to two RFP’s from PSEGLI, one calling for renewable energy and one calling for resources for Western Nassau, which also includes Rockaway. The proposals are due soon, so the representatives wanted to make the community aware of what their plan is. ANBARIC’s original plan only included the use of microgrids but when PSEGLI released their RFP’s, the company found that much more power was needed than what microgrids could handle, so their new plan incorporates an underground cable that would connect Glenwood and Rockaway to an existing substation in New Jersey. The microgrid portion of the plan would call for the installation of several solar panels at eight locations across the peninsula, with the largest installations over the Riis Park Parking lot and Edgemere Landfill. The plan would make Rockaway’s electric more reliable, greener and easier to bring back in a blackout.  It is not known what other companies are submitting proposals at this time.

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