By JOSEPH MODICA
The City Council last Thursday unanimously passed a initiative to revitalize downtown Far Rockaway, bringing a much needed flow of money and development into a community still rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy.
The brainchild of Councilman Richard Donovan, local and state officials, and community businesses, the Far Rockaway Redevelopment program is a $288 million plan designed to foster entrepreneurship and new residents, with programs ranging from increased access to affordable housing, to initiatives to a complete rezoning of the area.
Surrounded by city planners, legislators, and Far Rockaway community activists, Donovan proudly announced on the steps of City Hall that he was poised to cast his vote for the project.
“We have achieved our goal of economic diversity in this plan,” boasted Donovan, in the press release hours before the vote was scheduled.
The project will build 1,700 new public housing units in Far Rockaway for low income residents. For its more impoverished residents, the city will also provide 200 rental assistance vouchers for residents to move families out of homeless shelters.
The city will allocate $10 million to upgrade existing schools, while also looking into the potential of building a new elementary school. The initiative will work with the Department of Parks and Recreations to complete a $59.3 million dollar plan to renovate Baywater Park, and begin construction in the summer of 2018 of a 14,000-sq ft. park at the corner of Augustina Avenue and Nameoke Avenue
To help the new influx of residents, the city will construct bus shelters in downtown Far Rockaway, install new bus arrival displays, and commence a study in the feasibility of a new ferry landing on Beach 108th Street. The bill also contains additional funding for renovations to the 101st Police precinct and study the potential of establishing a farmers market in the downtown area.
“We want the community to rest assured and know today, that we heard you loud and clear” said Donovan “and that all the things you’ve spoke of, and dreamed of for this community did not fall on deaf ears.”
Photo by Joseph Modica of Councilman Richard Donovan on steps of City Hall.