The Times has been surfing the wave of Rockaways revelry all summer, praising the food, the parties, the sun dresses, the food, and, sure, the surfing. But sometimes life’s not all a beach. The Daily News has turned up at least one stretch of the Rockaways that is far from gentrified.
Things may be jumping over on Beach 96th Street, but Beach 116th Street goes wanting. The clams are still fried and the sun is shining, but an S.R.O. and other rundown properties—and the flotsam and jetsam that wash up with them—is ruining the fun.
Locals have long complained that Rockaway has become a dumping ground of sorts for the mentally ill, substance abusers and other government-subsidized tenants who live in SROs and nursing homes that were once shorefront hotels. But they say the situation has worsened since the Rockaway Park Hotel switched owners and clientele more than a year ago.
“Things have definitely intensified since that opened,” said Danny Ruscillo, head of the 100th Precinct Community Council, who has tracked dozens of complaints and 911 calls related to the hotel in recent months. “There was a resident of that establishment who threatened someone with a boxcutter. People are getting harassed when they go to the bank, when they shop.”
The city launched a Rockaway task force last year that locals hope will help, but who knows how long that will take? Clearly the quickest solution is for the hipsters to move in, replacing the dirty drugs with clean ones, the graffiti with street art.