Credit: NYC Parks

Projects include FEMA428 funding infrastructure projects, parks, playgrounds, a performance space – and even a labyrinth! 

Summer in Rockaway, Queens, usually means one thing: fun in the sun! And today NYC Parks is pleased to announce that 2023 is gearing up to be better than ever. Six capital project upgrades, totaling a $33.07 million investment overseen by Parks have either been recently completed or are moving through the final stages of construction, and are expected to be open for sun and surf this summer. Amenities include a labyrinth for contemplative passive recreation, a picturesque performance space, brand new parkland, playground upgrades, and more!  

Of the six projects, three were funded by FEMA through cost savings from the Rockaway Beach boardwalk reconstruction after Hurricane Sandy which devastated the region in 2012 and severely impacted greenspaces in southern Queens.  

“Our administration is committed to ‘Getting Stuff Done,’ and through this $33 million investment in new Rockaway enhancements, we are again delivering for New Yorkers,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “There’s nothing like visiting the beach for a day of fun and relaxation, and I encourage all New Yorkers to come out this summer, take a dip in the water, visit the concessions on the boardwalk, and enjoy these brand-new amenities.” 

“Rockaway Beach is one of the city’s premier destinations for sun and fun, and with multiple new park improvement projects opening this summer, Rockaway will be better than ever this year,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “Thanks to advocacy from the community and our elected officials, these new amenities represent a significant upgrade to Rockaway greenspace, and with brand new parkland, a picturesque performance space, playgrounds, and even a labyrinth, there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy in Rockaway.” 

“Rockaway’s resurgence has been well underway for years, and it will continue for yet another summer as these six projects in support of local families come online. From the brand new Nameoke Park to a pair of playgrounds to new Gateway Plaza performance space, these amenities represent a much-needed reversal of the disinvestment the peninsula has experienced over the decades,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “I look forward to working with NYC Parks and all our partners to continue making Rockaway a priority, supporting both the millions of visitors who flock there in the summer and the families who call its communities home all year round.” 

“The Rockaways and our parks are worth investing in,” said NYC Council Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers. “For too long, public space on the peninsula has not received its fair share of the City’s attention and spending. I thank the Parks Department for their efforts in Rockaway, and I look forward to further investments and improvements in our community’s parks.” 

The recently opened projects, and projects expected to be complete this summer, include:  

Shorefront Parkway Multi-Purpose Area ($7,775,000 / FEMA428) – opening soon 

Shorefront Parkway and Beach 77th Street 

The Shorefront Parkway Multi-Purpose Area added new park infrastructure and recreational amenities along Shorefront Parkway. The park features a pair of sand volleyball courts with stadium seating, configured for men’s and women’s play, a lawn for passive and informal play, table tennis tables, and adult fitness equipment. Stormwater management has been included in the final design and other amenities include improved sidewalks, additional seating, game tables, drinking fountains, bike racks and new landscaping. 

Beach 59th Street Playground ($5,000,000) – now open 

The totally reconstructed Beach 59th Street Playground is now open! As part of the project, brand new play equipment, rubber safety surfacing, and spray showers have been added, and a new shade structure has been installed. The two existing entrances, one on Beach 59th Street and one on Beach 60th Street still remain, and a new ADA ramp has also been built at the Beach 60th Street entrance to make it easier for individuals with impaired mobility and parents with strollers to access the site.  

Nameoke Park ($6,260,000)  opening late summer 2023 

.32 acres of new parkland, Corner of Nameoke and Augustina Avenues 

This brand-new park located at the corner of Nameoke Ave. and Augustina Ave. is intended to provide a welcoming place for the community to relax and gather under the shade of new and existing trees. The park will feature benches and game tables arranged to encourage social interaction, and the seating area can also double as performance/gathering space. A dedicated adult fitness area will be located off the main plaza, and the play area will include two play units, one geared for children aged 2-5, and one for the 5-12 age group. A central spray shower with two types of in-ground sprays will add extra play value to the site during the warmer months, and in the colder months it will serve as a flexible, free-play area. With no other parks within a quarter-mile radius (5-minute walk), as part of the Downtown Far Rockaway rezoning effort, the Far Rockaway community lobbied to have a neighborhood park be part of the planning. 

Beach 94-95th St. Gateway Plaza and Performance Space ($3,710,000 / FEMA428) – now open 

Beach 94-95th Street Gateway Plaza and Performance Space provides a grand entrance for Rockaway Beach at the foot of Cross Bay Parkway, just off the Cross Bay Bridge. The new stage provides an appropriate venue for theatrical and musical performances, community events, and worship services, and features a large screen for movie screenings. The new flagpole replaces a venerable flagpole that was lost in Superstorm Sandy and will fly flags in memory of Rockaway residents and their loved ones. 

Shorefront Labyrinth & Seating Area ($2,419,000 / FEMA428) – now open 

Shorefront Parkway between Beach 92nd and 94th Streets 

The brand-new Shorefront Labyrinth & Seating Area features a passive recreational area centered on an inlaid labyrinth for contemplative use. A seating area and newly added landscape surrounds the labyrinth, and other amenities include replaced sidewalks and additional seating, game tables, drinking fountains, and new bike racks. 

Shorefront Beach 98th Street Playground ($7,907,088 / FEMA428) – opening early summer 2023 

In addition to providing a rich play experience within Beach 98th Street Playground itself, the site’s design considered the adjacent obstacle course to the west, creating a space for age-appropriate activity for users ranging from tots to seniors. To increase shade at the playground, shade structures and umbrellas have been strategically added to the site to maximize shaded seating opportunities for caregivers and other park-goers. As part of the redesign, tot play was situated near the beach concession island at 97th Street to allow easy access to the bathrooms and other facilities there, and the target user age range for each space trends upward as one travels west down Shore Front Parkway.  

From surfers to swimmers to the Ramones, everyone wants to “hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach.” Rockaway Beach is a year-round resource for residents all along the Rockaway peninsula, and it comes alive each summer from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend with millions of visitors. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, which struck New York City in October 2012, Rockaway Beach has also become a testament to New York’s resilience, and a model for sustainable rebuilding. NYC Parks beaches open this year for swimming on May 27, 2023.