Locals — what would you do with 85 acres to add to Rockaway’s unique allure? Just recently, the National Parks Service (NPS) announced a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) seeking responses from individuals, educational institutions, governmental agencies or entities, and non-profit or for-profit organizations, interested in re-use of buildings and land at Fort Tilden East and Riis Landing in the Jamaica Bay Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. Both areas, located on the western end of the peninsula, flanked on the north and west by the gated communities of Roxbury and Breezy Point, respectively, comprise a whopping 85 acres, including 13 buildings and associated land, are identified under the National Register Of Historic Districts.
From overnight accommodations with both lodging and camping, outdoor recreation, environmental education, arts programming, outdoor concerts and even a movie theater — the possibilities are endless! So, don’t miss the opportunity to submit your ideas to the NPS before the deadline, next Friday, February 23 at 1 p.m.
Dan Guarino, longtime Broad Channel resident, former reporter for The Rockaway Times (RT), former board president of the Rockaway Artists Alliance, and active member of the Rockaway Theatre Company, believes this is a great opportunity for locals to step up and declare what they want for the area. “Everybody I've ever met who’ve visited Fort Tilden and Riis Landing for the first time is amazed! They are so glad they 'discovered' this great place. If you look next door at Riis Park, it’s amazing how NPS’ partnership with Riis Park Beach Bazaar has revitalized that almost forgotten, long unused, beautiful area.” Anna Lev, a Neponsit resident and proprietor of local yoga studio, Rockaway Love, said, “I would love to see more art with exhibits and concert spaces.”
Jane Garfield Frank, also a resident of Neponsit, recommended a History of the Rockaways Museum. “I would like to see a museum, complete with Rockaway-centric artifacts, testimonials, art and photography. The history of the peninsula is fascinating, and collectively its inhabitants have been through a lot. Done right, the Riis Landing/Fort Tilden East area could become an authentic NYC cultural destination spot, and with the added attraction of the ferry, a splendid outing.”
Rockaway Beach resident, Christine Dydzuhn, couldn’t be more excited. “I love experiencing the outdoors with my children. This area needs both an outdoor and indoor field for sports such as soccer and baseball, and also a sensory gym for children with special-needs would be fantastic,” Dydzuhn said.
As for Belle Harbor resident, Kaitlin McVeigh, food is on the mind. “The peninsula needs more restaurant options. Though the variety has improved, I think we need a family-style Italian restaurant with our signature ‘Rockaway-beachy’ atmosphere. That would be awesome!” McVeigh said.
According to Daphne Yun, NPS spokesperson, if a RFEI is accepted, there’s no timeline as to when the rollout will begin. “This RFEI is not a lease. It's just to see what people are interested in, so understand that new construction does not come after an RFEI,” Yun said.
In regards to term length, the NPS stated that are seeking both short- and long-term options. In any case, the maximum allowable term is 60 years. In the RFEI, applicants have to state how much they are willing to pay the NPS for this opportunity.
In summer 2017, NPS authorized two short-term overnight camping programs at Fort Tilden during the summer and fall, Terra Glamping and Camp Rockaway. The pilot camping programs offered tents of different sizes and typologies (ranging from primitive camping to high-end glamping) at price points ranging from $100 to $250 per night per site.
For further information, visit: www.nps.gov/gate/request-for-expressions-of-interest-for-fort-tilden-and-riis-landing.htm
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