Seven years after Hurricane Sandy tore more than half of Rockaway Beach’s 5.5-mile boardwalk off its stanchions, the waterfront is thriving again. Last year, Rockaway Beach welcomed a staggering 5.5 million visitors. But millennials enthralled by the cornucopia of ceviche, quinoa arepas, and kombucha on tap may not have noticed something missing: the handball courts ripped up by the superstorm in 2012 still haven’t returned to Beach 105th Street.
In recent weeks, however, the walls have been built back, and today— before Mother Nature once again asserted herself by dumping rain on workers— rebar was being laid down so that the court’s concrete slab could be poured. The Parks Department’s project tracker indicates the $3.7 million reconstruction is 61 percent done, and should be complete by March of 2020, a year after construction commenced. The project is years in the making, as design began in November of 2015. The area between Beach 105th and 102nd will also get two ping pong tables, sitting areas, and a fitness area, according to plans. And a couple of the chess tables that used to dot the area— also uprooted by Sandy— have already sprung back up.
Other projects planned to go next to the boardwalk include a dog run at Beach 90th Street and an “adventure course,” including an obstacle course and a pickle ball court, at 101st Street. Both projects are currently under legal review, after which a construction timeline will be established, according to the Parks website. (Construction generally takes 12-18 months, the site notes.) Additionally, a landscaped “labyrinth” at Beach 101th Street is in the final design stage. At Beach 77th Street, a planned sand volleyball court and multipurpose grass sports field are entering the procurement phase.
This past summer, the Parks Department tided visitors over by adding makeshift ping pong tables and a bocce court to a vacant stretch of land near Beach 98th Street. Unfortunately, the area was fenced off at the end of beach season, meaning residents can no longer use it. Anyone wanting a handball fix can, however, get it over at Beach 77th Street and Beach 81st Street.