The Gentrification Of A Beach: Rockaway’s Long Belated And Selective Resiliency Concern

Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York

Climate change was somewhat kind to New York City this year compared to the devastation that continues to happen in other states and nations with tropical storms, hurricanes and tornadoes and the apocalyptic hell fires that are happening frequently in California;  although with the exception of the remnants of Hurricanes Henri and Ida causing record amounts of water vomiting from the sky which led to destruction and sad deaths of the city’s lower income citizens here. Mostly because of the record heat NYC has received this year, with the hottest July on record, this mild weather has also led to what will sure to be the warmest October in this city in 2021, which comes to mind the last time summer stuck around for another month in 2012 when the pleasant weather gave way to the kraken that was Hurricane Sandy a few days before Halloween.

Sandy laid destruction and death of her own in a 24 hours across the coastal towns and areas and updated flood zones of the five boroughs, notably in Rockaway Beach where she  destroyed the entire boardwalk 9 years ago. But with funding from FEMA,  it took a few years to build another boardwalk, this time with rebar and concrete to replace all the wood that was reduced to kindle and also billions of pounds of sand for dunes. This led to longer treks to find some real estate to lay your towels and coolers down on the beach, but at least it provided protection from the hostile waters of the Atlantic that has been rising and eroding the shores of the peninsula for years before that bitch Sandy arrived.

 

And nigh a decade later, Rockaway Beach’s shore is in dire straits again. Most evident on the most conveniently accessed and popular beach area at Beach 98 st., the boardwalk entrance ramp to the sand is more fit for kayaking than a path for sunbathing.

Most of this lies in the fact that jetties and groins were never laid down on a majority of the coast line. This was evident by the rockpiles near the end of the boardwalk in Far Rockaway.

May 2020

May 2020

October 2021

October 2021

October 2021

October 2021

Most of the dunes are now thoroughly devoured from erosion, making the boardwalk resemble more like a pier and the remaining walls of sand resemble more like a ravine cliff when standing from the boardwalk. Which people have taken advantage of giving them balcony-esque views of the shore below.

 

 

 

9 years of rising sea levels and tropical storms has usurped most of the real estate on Rockaway’s shores, It’s almost inconceivable that there was actually a point where this chair stands now when the city parks department actually permitted a concession stand on Beach 97th st. to hold musical performances on the sand. But there really was.

But nature and the extreme effects of climate change was too overwhelming for the optical resiliency efforts by the parks dept and the Army Corps of Engineers, which has led to sights like this, none more pronounced than this life guards high chair removed from the sands and onto the boardwalk because there is nowhere to put it where it belongs since the tides are so close to the boardwalks steps.

In the last couple of years and despite repeated attempts adding more sand to the dilapidated shore, the most populated beaches from Beach 87th St. to Beach 104th St. have been officially closed to the public. But warnings were only seen as obligatory as the public made do and adjusted to what little space they had to soak some rays and have fun fun fun on Rock Rock Rockaway Beach in defiance of all the orange flag warnings.

 

 

 

What once was a marvel of land replenishment and infrastructure, Rockaway’s beach and boardwalk has been fed it’s lunch by the primal forces of nature and man-made climate change. Further east on B. 42nd St. in Edgemere, even the groins weren’t able to keep years of rising tides from coming in. 

 

But for some miraculous reason, not all of Rockaway’s beaches have not been subjected to the same climate violence water torture that has devastated the beaches in the former Playland and Rockaway Park areas and this beach in Edgemere. In what could be considered the 8th (or is 9th) wonder of the world, the sand on the beaches from B 57th to 69th St. in Arverne, make that Arverne by the sea has somehow maintained it’s own version of resiliency ever since the boardwalk got restored 6 years ago and was still able to stay sandy as other the aforementioned beaches disintegrated.

May 2020

May 2020

May 2020

But upon closer inspection, by turning your head around, is about a couple of acres of luxurious beach house development and apparent (also alleged) available luxury real estate lots. Well, mostly advertising for the luxury real estate that already exists.

  

This was a sight I found intriguing. It seems there’s a surfing culture that “The Tides NYC” is integrating with the high end lifestyle living that they are selling in this enclave, which sticks out like a gold leaf and glittered thumb on the peninsula from the neighboring NYCHA buildings and vacant weeded, wild brushed and sandy lots. It’s quite obvious that to compete with man made climate change that has gradually slaughtered the beaches, our intrepid city planners and elected officials had to ensure this man made upper class Potemkin Village get prioritized for resiliency at all costs and at the expense of the rest of the peninsula.

 

And if all the luxurious beach houses and condos wasn’t enough uncorroborated evidence of the prioritization of this resiliency concern for Rockaway, it’s also the presence of this Hollywood styled sign spanning 2 blocks of Beach Channel Drive and a certain one floor government agency building on the corner nestled right by the B 67th St. Arvene transit station staircase.

 

 

At least the infamous Congressman is easily accessible, so it seems. This building sort of looks new, as if it was built the same time as the Rockaway’s boardwalk/sidewalk was constructed. Interesting that mutli-termed reigning rep of the nation’s 26th district didn’t have this building on stilts considering that it’s in a code red flood zone. But apparently he needed an oasis by the sea to satiate his high end big spending lifestyle fix.

But this isn’t actually the only area that still able to beat the aggressive waters of the Atlantic, there’s still plenty of sandy real estate for the public to enjoy all the way at the end of the boardwalk in Far Rockaway, which is logical because that’s the resiliency effort to replenish the beaches began. But it’s hard not to notice the changes that followed along with the beach’s recovery right when you come to the end of the boardwalk. Right behind the rent stabilized apartment buildings and right across from what looks like a senior housing building long abandoned is the most expensive luxury public housing towers perched over the edge of the water a stones throw from the border of Long Island. There are also startlingly attractive townhouses right across the street from the three pronged behemoths.

 

 

So it’s easy to see how man is able to compete with nature when the money and the zoning permits go right. But it doesn’t only hinge on which beaches miraculously recover from land erosion (at least temporarily), also noticeable is how the mostly low residential neighborhoods sprout luxury public housing mini-metropolises by subway stations. Starting with the massive luxury public housing development village by the Mott Ave. Station and other new luxury public housing towers by the 44th and 55th St. Stations.

 

 

 

But now it finally looks like shore resiliency equity has finally come to the heart of Rockaway Beach as more tons of sand and boulders finally came west to the middle of the peninsula’s shore right at autumn’s arrival, along with cranes situated at B 101th and B 108th streets at the ready to finally lay the groins down and restore the beaches to at least a semblance of how it look when it was restored a decade ago. (Although the shore from B 90 to B98 will still go wanting).

 

 

It’s a wonder why this was delayed so long, especially after persistent complaints by the residents for years. What happened to the funding by the city and federal parks departments? This is expected with Current Mayor Bill de Blasio’s tardiness and misplaced profligate spending on other projects dear to him and his avocado sect base (which ironically happens to flock to this beach in masses) but Donald Trump leave the maintenance of Rockaway’s shores hanging in the lurch? While seeing these machines here standing gloriously on the sand about to finally restore the coast’s infrastructure, it’s sort of too little too late. And from the way these cranes are standing unoccupied and immobile and hardly enough natural materials to work with, it doesn’t look like this won’t be make much progress during the cold weather months and wont be done when the next summer comes around. But I bet it still wont stop the public from coming to bask in the rays of the sun and mists of the tides

But more essentially for the belated resiliency concern of Rockaway Beach that has finally resumed in this area is all the new luxury development that has arrived in the form of a spanking high end up scale modern hotel on 108th St., and also shore front row house style condo buildings recently built and incoming luxury residential development along with a cultural foodie scene that is getting even more pricier.

 

 

This little shit sandwich was 10 bucks

As for the manufactured jewel of Rockaway, Averne by the Sea?  As with the recent shore restoration equity bestowed upon the Hammels and Playland towns, Arverne’s shore got even more tons of sand for the upper class fauxhemian and still water surfer locals.

    

To go along with the extension of coast, Arverne got even bigger with the completion of the Tides “locals” luxury suite residential building as predominantly advertised. And a beautiful new YMCA to go along with it.

 

Its going to be interesting how all this city planning and hyper-development is going to coalesce with the hastening warming of this planet and the future maladies and catastrophes from climate change that are yet and inevitable to come, since more effort was spent trying to recreate Rockaway as a luxury island or resort city retreat for frivolous spending and tax shelter investments than to keep the land afloat and it’s long time and future residents and their homes safe from harm from the encroaching, menacing tides.

Because apparently in the minds of these developers and also elected officials and city planners, the only thing that can stop the extreme effects and coastal destruction wrought by climate change is the omniscient predominance of upscale lifestyle living and real estate market speculation/fabrication

 

   

Fin

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