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BP Richards, Queens Chamber of Commerce invite residents to help decide how to improve Far Rockaway through $4.5M grant

Jun. 30, 2023 By John Schilling

Four months after Gov. Kathy Hochul’s announcement that Far Rockaway would receive a $4.5 million grant through New York state’s NY Forward program, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and the Queens Chamber of Commerce have announced an open call to Far Rockaway residents to help decide how the funding should be allocated.

“The NY Forward Program will help kick start our economic recovery, ensuring that downtowns throughout the state have the resources they need to create jobs and opportunities for New Yorkers, and we are delighted that Governor Hochul has awarded $4.5 million to Far Rockaway through this initiative,” Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Grech said.

The open call asks for project proposals from individuals and organizations in the neighborhood that have ideas for “capital improvements” to Far Rockaway’s NY Forward study area, which includes sections of Motte Avenue, Central Avenue, Cornaga Avenue and Beach Channel Drive, as well as Beach 19th, 20th, and 21st Streets.

Richards, who once represented these areas as the city councilman for District 31, believes this opportunity is crucial to the future of Far Rockaway and its residents.

“From historic investments in healthcare, libraries and affordable housing, Far Rockaway is in the midst of a true renaissance,” Richards said. “With this important investment through Governor Hochul’s NY Forward plan, we will make this tight-knit community an even stronger place to live, work and play.”

Aside from being a Far Rockaway resident or organization, applicants must propose a project that addresses four specific criteria in order to be considered. 

The project must “contribute to the economic revitalization of Downtown Far Rockaway” by creating jobs, supporting local businesses, activating public spaces, showcasing local artists and improving the overall quality of life in the area. Additionally, the project must qualify as capital construction, have a sponsor to lead the project’s plan and see it through, and have a “defined scope and budget.”

Proposals can be submitted online to FarRockawayNYF.com to be reviewed by NY Forward’s Far Rockaway Local Planning Committee (LPC), which includes Richards, Grech and community leaders appointed by the governor.

One member of the Far Rockaway LPC is Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation President and CEO Kevin Alexander, who sees this as a great opportunity to better the lives of residents in Far Rockaway and the Rockaways as a whole. 

“The $4.5M Far Rockaway NY Forward award provides another opportunity for us to enhance the quality of life for both our longstanding residents as well as those who now call Far Rockaway home through the transformational Downtown Far Rockaway Redevelopment Project,” Alexander said. 

As for the Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation (OBCDC), which has led quality of life improvements in the area since 1999, Executive Director Ebony Beaty hopes that the NY Forward planning process can further help with the area’s quality of life while also keeping equity in mind.

“While NY Forward has undoubtedly contributed to the positive trajectory of our flourishing Rockaway community, I firmly believe that achieving true success for the NY Forward initiative will require fostering equity and inclusion across all socioeconomic sectors throughout the Rockaway peninsula,” Beaty said.

To ensure all voices are heard, residents can voice their ideas further during an upcoming series of public engagement sessions that will allow them to be involved in the area’s NY Forward planning process. 

Far Rockaway’s Tri-Med Home Care Services President and CEO Vinod Sinha believes this approach and collaboration will be important to ensure the success of the area’s revitalization.

“It’s a great pleasure to see many new figures from our Far Rockaway community emerge together to make a positive impact,” Sinha said. “Our mission to serve the least, the last and the lost has been at the heart of our community that we live in. With everyone’s support, we hope to continue [to] spread our smile throughout every community and their members.”

 

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