Rockaways

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With about 130,000 residents, Queens is home to more war veterans than any other borough in New York City. This weekend various neighborhoods honor their war heroes with Memorial Day parades, including biggest one in the country (Little Neck/Douglaston).

The Maspeth Memorial Day Parade (Sunday, May 25th, at 1 pm) is always an emotional display of patriotism and gratitude. This year, it honors local veterans and women. Retired Capt. Laura Zimmermann is the speaker, and other honorees are Leo J. Wasil, who flew 35 combat missions as a radio operator, mechanic and gunner in World War II; Anthony Simone, who fought in the treacherous Mung Dung Valley during the Korean War; and Jane Crowley, who joined the United States Marine Corp Women’s Service in 1943. The parade begins at 1 pm at Walter A. Garlinge Memorial Park, 72nd Street and Grand Avenue, and proceeds down Grand to the Frank Kowalinski American Legion Post 4 and Knights of Columbus on 69th Lane, where there’s a memorial service at 2 pm.

Information on the other parades follows:

  • Broad Channel, Sunday, May 25th, 1 pm, Cross Bay Boulevard.
  • Forest Hills, Sunday, May 25th, noon, starts at Ascan and Metropolitan avenues, proceeds to Trotting Course Lane, ending at St. John Cemetery. Grand marshals are Monsignor John McGuirl, pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Church; Community Board 6 Chair Joseph Hennessey; and Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs Commissioner Terrance Holliday.
  • College Point, Sunday, May 25th, 2 pm, starts at 28rd Avenue and College Point Boulevard and heads to 5th Avenue and 119th Street. State Senator Tony Avella is the grand marshal. Poppy Queen is Isabella Joan Hollaway.
  • Howard Beach, Monday, May 26th, 9:30 am, begins with Memorial Day Mass at Our Lady of Grace Church at 101st Street and 159th Avenue. The parade kicks off at 11 am in Coleman Square and takes its time-honored route through Old Howard Beach, visiting the Vietnam War memorial at 99th Street and 157th Avenue, the World War II memorial at Assembly of God Church at 158-31 99th Street and then St. Barnabas Church at 159-19 98 Street.
  • Laurelton, Monday, May 26th, 9 am, Francis Lewis and Merrick boulevards to the Veterans Memorial Triangle, 225th Street and North Conduit Avenue.
  • Little Neck-Douglaston, Monday, May 26th, 2 pm, Northern Boulevard between Jayson Avenue and 245th Street, 2 pm. The closing ceremony is held in the parking lot of Saint Anastasia School, Northern Boulevard and Alameda Avenue, where awards are given, honorees are acknowledged, and refreshments are served. World War II heroes are the grand marshals, including Rocco Moretto and John McHugh Sr., who stormed the beaches of Normandy during D-Day; Thomas Dent; John W. Peterkin; and Lucy Salpeper, who joined the Navy Waves and cared for injured soldiers.
  • Ridgewood-Glendale, Monday, May 26th, 11 am, starting at the Ridgewood Memorial Triangle at Myrtle and Cypress avenues and ending at the Glendale War Monument at Myrtle and Cooper avenues. Charles Dunn, a member of Glendale’s VFW Sergeant Edward R. Miller Post 7336, is the grand marshal.
  • The Rockaways, May 26th, noon, steps off at Beach 121st Street.
  • Whitestone, Monday, May 26th, noon, starts at Whitestone Memorial Park, 149th Street and 15th Drive and proceeds on 12th Avenue. Dr. David Copell, a Korean War vet, is the grand marshal.

Photo: The Whitestone Memorial Day Parade

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Despite Fort Tilden opening on Memorial Day for the first time since Sandy, not all Rockaway beaches will be ready for swimmers. The NY Daily News reports that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contractors faced mechanical problems while pumping sand in the stretch of beach between Beach 96th Street and Beach 80th Street. They ordered a new dredging machine, but don’t think they can resume work until the end of May.

In the last month alone, contractors pumped 765,000 cubic yards of sand onto the beach. The goal is to pump 3,500,000 cubic yards of sand along the entire stretch of Rockaway Beach by this fall.

Rockaway’s Most Eroded Beaches Won’t Get Sand in Time for Memorial Day [NY Daily News]

Photo via Dredging Today

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New York designer Kent Johnson just launched a Kickstarter to bring a chic tent hotel to Rockaway Beach — Queens Courier calls it “glamping.” He’s looking to raise $50K to build out Camp Rockaway, a landscaped campground at Jamaica Bay complete with tents furnished with real beds, blankets and sheets. Other amenities include private fire pits, outdoor showers and hot tubs. As the Kickstarter states, “Camp Rockaway means you don’t have to end your day at the beach with a hot subway ride home. Unwind in a hammock. Send a postcard or browse the visitor’s guide to see what else Rockaway has to offer. You’ll find great restaurants, night life, cultural events, and the requisite long walk on the beach.”

The Camp Rockaway team has “done the research, confirmed the feasibility and built our business plan.” They now need funds to move forward with city documents and approvals. Part of the money raised will also go toward the mentoring program STOKED, which will send kids for one-night stays at Camp Rockaway.

Kickstarter Campaign Aims to Bring ‘Glamping’ to Rockaway Beach [Queens Courier]
Camp Rockaway [Kickstarter]

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Since closing due to Hurricane Sandy (that was 2012, readers!), the beach at Fort Tilden is finally open again. Bedford and Bowery reported yesterday that the National Parks Service quietly reopened the area despite fears that it would remain off-limits this year.

The Parks Department started cleaning up the beach in March — here’s what the area looked like at the beginning of this year. Parks had to remove large pieces of debris, including hunks of roadway, from the beach. The area remained shut for season last year because of the incredible amount of hurricane damage and the sprawling size of the park. We can’t wait to check out the newly-cleaned spot this summer.

Fort Tilden Beach Has Reopened [Bedford and Bowery]
All Fort Tilden coverage [Q’Stoner]

Photo via Yelp

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This Saturday and Sunday, volunteers visited Rockaway Beach to help plant beach grass on top of the dunes to help better protect the shoreline. According to the Parks Department, the roots of the beach grass strengthens the dunes by holding sand in place. The blades also trap windblown sand, increasing dune size. Parks has planted beach grass from native crops in Rockaway and Staten Island since Hurricane Sandy, and they even created a beach grass “farm” at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn.

These plants went on dunes that the Army Corps of Engineers is currently constructing. You can see more pictures of the event this weekend after the jump.

Photos by NYC Parks Department

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The American Littoral Society and the Broad Channel middle school P.S. 47 are holding a fundraiser to help restore New York City’s milkweed habitat for the monarch butterfly. According to the Society, “Once numbering in the tens of millions, the monarch’s numbers have been severely reduced due to habitat loss in North America. Their life cycle depends on one family of plants – the milkweeds.” The milkweed will be planted in open fields and vacant lots throughout New York and New Jersey. The fundraiser, with a goal of $1,500, is to purchase the milkweed plants in time for the first planting at the end of April at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. The American Littoral Society and P.S. 47 already met their funding goal, but the groups are still accepting donations. And for just today, the National Parks Conservation Association will match every individual donation up to $50 until 11:59 pm. If you are interested in donating, go here.

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This week, the Parks Department will begin rebuilding the Rockaway boardwalk from Beach 86th to Beach 97th Streets — as everybody knows, Hurricane Sandy badly ripped up the boardwalk back in 2012. And over the summer, Parks hopes to take on another damaged stretch from Beach 97th Street to Beach 106th Street. According to the Daily News, “Crews will fence off the area and start demolishing some of the concrete piles as early as Monday, and the first section could be completed by Memorial Day 2015.” Work begins with pile driving, which will last two months, followed by the placement of the concrete boardwalk. Some concrete will show a wavy pattern; there’s another design with blue stones placed throughout. During construction all access points to the beach will remain open.

The city delayed this $20,000,000 project time and time again. Although the initial hope was to finish the entire reconstruction by 2016, it likely won’t happen until 2017.

Construction of new Rockaway Boardwalk Slated to Start This Week [NY Daily News]
All Rockaway Boardwalk coverage [Q’Stoner]

Rendering by the Parks Department

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Yesterday Mayor de Blasio pledged to overhaul the city’s Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, announcing a number of reforms to jumpstart the process. You can see the entire PDF report here or read more details from the Mayor’s office here. The reforms include ways to improve the experience of homeowners navigating the pre-construction process, expanding eligibility for acquisition and reimbursement, establishing better coordination among city, state, and federal partners, and working closely with local communities in the rebuilding efforts.

According to the Times, the Mayor hopes that the city will have started construction on 500 new homes and mailed out 500 reimbursement checks for previously performed repairs by the end of the summer. Only 30 residents received their payments so far. As Brad Gair — who worked on rebuilding efforts during Bloomberg’s term — told the Times, “Anything that helps expedite the assistance to the homeowners who are still in need, I think is very positive. The challenge really becomes how you implement and process that.”

Photo via Twitter

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The future remains unclear for the Madelaine Chocolate Company, a Rockaways business that sustained $50,000,000 in damage after Hurricane Sandy. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company seeks $10,000,000 in federal Sandy recovery funds from the city to replace and repair machinery. City officials do not think they can grant the full amount, as there’s only about $42,000,000 in federal dollars for the Sandy loan and grant program. As the WSJ says, “The chocolate company has tested the limits of the city’s Sandy recovery programs, which were designed to help much smaller businesses, and its plight has raised hard questions about how New York should distribute the rebuilding dollars.”

Madelaine’s declined emergency fund money from the city — a $25,000 emergency loan, $10,000 grant and an emergency sales-tax deferment — due to a long application process. The business has, however, secured a $12,900,000 low-interest loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration as well as $3,000,000 from a flood insurance settlement. They also applied for a $1,000,000 loan from the city, despite seeking the full $10,000,000. Back in February, Madelaine’s put its 200,000-square-foot factory up for sale. The company is considering relocating outside New York, despite hopes to remain in the Rockaways. Madelaine’s has been in the neighborhood since 1967.

Madelaine Chocolate Co. Seeks Cash to Stay in Rockaways [WSJ]
Madelaine Chocolate Company Factory is up for Sale in the Rockaways [Q’Stoner]

Photo via Facebook

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Far Rockaway is getting two new sweet spots, just in time for summer. Rockawayist reports that an Uncle Louie G outpost is under construction at 92-10 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, between Beach 146th and Beach 147th Streets. It’ll start serving italian ices and ice cream on Saturday, April 26th. And Boardwalk Bagel, located at 108-01 108th Street, plans to expand in the storefront next door and open an ice cream parlor. That one is expected to open sometime this summer.

Two New Sweet Shops are Coming to Rockaway [Rockawayist]

Photo by Rockawayist