“Battered by years of economic distress even before Sandy’s gale-force winds struck, there’s no place in our city that has persevered through more,” de Blasio said last year. “Our plan will jump-start the process of acquiring underutilized properties in the Rockaways – areas blighted or vacant for decades – as we look to create new, affordable housing for thousands there.”
On the heels of that promise, Councilman Donovan Richards created the Downtown Far Rockaway Working Group, which is compromised of elected officials and community, business and nonprofit representatives working together to outline the future development of the area.
“This historic investment is a credit to the hard work of the residents of Far Rockaway who came together to create a community-led vision for the future of this community that has been ignored for more than 40 years,” said Richards.
The task force has met four times and co-hosted a public meeting with over 100 community members to create a set of recommendations, which were sent to the de Blasio administration.
The recommendations are broken into sevdral goals, including re-establishing downtown Far Rockaway as a commercial and transportation hub, creating new mixed-income housing, and improving the quality of life for residents through access to community services, education and quality jobs.
The task force is calling for a “Main Street” feel that includes a redeveloped shopping center and highlights the community's unique and historic character, as well as increased A train service and more parking.
“We’ll help businesses in commercial corridors like Beach 20th Street,” de Blasio said during this year's speech. “Parents will be able to attend job training workshops while their kids play a pick-up game at the greatly improved Sorrentino Recreation Center, and the whole community will enjoy the new, state-of-the-art Downtown Far Rockaway Library.”
Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder praised de Blasio's commitment to the area.
“I applaud the mayor for making the redevelopment of downtown Far Rockaway a priority,” he said. “For too long, our families have been left behind as other, more central parts of the borough have seen tremendous growth. This proposal has the potential to reverse the tide of isolation and neglect that has long affected our beachfront community.”
He added the city still needs to improve transportation access to the community, and that plans like the $2.5 billion Brooklyn-Queens streetcar will do nothing for communities in transit deserts.
“Our families in Rockaway and across the city would be much better served if this money went towards reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line,” he said.