Rockaway Locals…You Tell Us! Get Your Voice Heard!

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Rockaway Locals…You Tell Us! Get Your Voice Heard!

In our feature, reporter, Kami-Leigh Agard scours the streets to get your opinion on current issues facing the peninsula.

Your Voice…Your Community…Your Platform

For Rockaway natives, growing up on the peninsula conjures up memories of summers at the beach, businesses long gone, and nostalgia about what was THEN and conflicting feelings about the community NOW.

Natives weigh in:

 

CARMEL SMITH

Phlebotomist 

Rockaway Beach, NY

THEN — “The community was very tight-knit, so families would gather together and hold block parties, alternating which street would host the next one. There were more recreational activities for children. Playland was a favorite of adults and children alike. They need to bring back something like that. I miss the old Jewish bakery/deli, West Ridge, on Beach 116th Street, located where the old Woolworths used to be. Also I miss Checkers. It was a club, where Dunkin Donuts is now on Beach Channel Drive. Until 10 p.m., kids 13 and under would go there to meet their friends and dance. Then after 10 p.m., it would open for the older kids. However, what I miss most are the people of Rockaway. As a kid, you always had your rat pack having fun, playing in the neighborhood. Besides Playland, it would be the old familiar faces that I miss the most.”

 

NOW — “It’s great that so many small businesses are opening up here. However, the way government funding is being spent to develop the area should be done better. More should be done by the Parks Department to create recreational activities for kids. Also Rockaway is up and coming. When I grew up here, Rockaway was the best kept secret. There weren’t all these people flocking from all over. Now with so many new people here, the area has become congested, making parking a nightmare. Adding parking should be a top priority for our local officials. Why not replace the municipal parking on Beach 95th Street with a six-level public parking garage? Also with all these new people, St. John’s Hospital as the only option is a huge concern. Our local officials need to take into consideration the concerns of both old and new residents. However, I also see Rockaway blossoming. We have the tourists, and whether we like it or not, they have helped put Rockaway back on the map. I don’t believe in bringing big franchise businesses that would take away from our small town feel. I love that Rockaway has not become commercialized. It’s great that we have all these new restaurants. When I was young, all we had here were bars. The beach is great, but Rockaway is no longer just about the beach. Focus needs to be on creating fun activities for folks to enjoy, especially the local children. They were more options for kids back in my days.”

 

MARY VOLVOVAR

Artist  

Rockaway Beach, NY

THEN — “Walking down memory lane for me would be the freedom we had back then. Now I feel that we are so monitored. My old hangout spot was the wooden ramp on Beach 91st Street, where our mom used to take us in our baby carriages, and it was still there when we were growing up in our 20s, 30s and 40s. However, Sandy swept it away. I also miss the freedom we had as kids playing street games like tag, spin-the-bottle and handball. Beach 88th Street was our big hang out. Bella’s Bungalows was also another favorite. As kids we didn’t have money, but we didn’t even worry about that. We just felt free and happy to be outside. I remember my father coming up to the boardwalk one day and saying, ‘Get your beach blankets and your shoes, time to go inside.’ We almost cried because we didn’t want to leave the beach, but he surprised us by taking us to the World’s Fair that day. Other than that, I remember our piles of beach blankets on the shore, and discussing what hero we were going to get at the deli or whether we were going to Playland. Or for 20 cents we would take the bus to the movie theater and stores in Far Rockaway. Far Rockaway had so many stores, and it was always a fun time taking the bus there. The beach for us was year-round. I miss that year-round experience."

 

NOW — “Rockaway feels the same to me. It’s still laid-back. I’ve always been a beach babe. I love looking at the sky, the water and the smells that all bring back childhood memories of the freedom we had of being outdoors. Today, I love being able to mingle with all kinds of people. In the old days, we were limited in culture. It’s great that we have people coming from all over, who have brought an eclectic mixture of food and music. Rockaway used to be just a big bar town, and I’m glad that it has evolved into more. What I am unhappy with is the slow pace in attracting more stores. I think we need one or two major department stores. We need more for the people who actually live here. There should be more funding for people who know the community’s needs and want to start small businesses. If people are going to stay and thrive, we need more businesses and shopping options.”

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