The repurposing of an existing building is expected to bring some new life to Rockaway as the Village Court will likely move into its new home in the next year or two. The building will also serve as the new home to the village’s Public Safety and Code Enforcement departments. Village Justice Robert Bogle said as many as 300 people will be brought to the avenue on Wednesday nights for court appearances. “I can assure you that people will be on Rockaway Avenue at night whether they like it or not,” he said to the group.
Another issue with the avenue, Sabatino said, is the high taxes businesses must pay. He said there are many religious buildings in the area that do not pay taxes, so the school district must make up that money elsewhere.
“If their tax base isn’t changing and they have to tax from the same pool, they have to raise that rate in order to keep the money they need to perform the services they were performing even last year,” he said. “Landlords aren’t going to invest if they think it’s only going to hurt them.”
The group also discussed ways to liven up Rockaway. There is an alley in between two store fronts on the west side of the avenue that connects to a parking lot, but is also not very inviting at night. Envision members suggested adding more lighting to the alley and perhaps a mural on the brick walls.
Additionally, Sabatino said that despite Rockaway being in a high-trafficked area, many people might not know it exists when driving on Sunrise Highway because they see two service-oriented businesses — a carwash and body shop — and a Long Island Rail Road train trestle. Resident Scott Rosen suggested putting up a nice sign by the trestle welcoming people to the business district, like other communities on the South Shore have done.
The group wrapped up its tour at Sip This feeling optimistic about the direction of Rockaway. “There are a lot of things that you can come, shop for and enjoy, and we can make it better, and that’s what we need to do,” Sabatino said. “I think if you get Rockaway Avenue going you get the core of the village going.”