Rockaway Avenue has been a staple in the Valley Stream community for decades as a place where people from all over Long Island come to eat and shop, but still, there are many people who think the village’s business district could be so much more.
Members of Envision Valley Stream went on a walking tour of Rockaway Avenue from Merrick Road to Sunrise Highway on Dec. 13 to discuss possible improvements, new happenings and to reminisce about how the avenue looked years ago. Envision Valley Stream President David Sabatino provided clipboards and talking points to the residents who went on the tour.
There are dozens of retail and food shops on the avenue, but Sabatino said there are still many businesses that do not fit with the theme of the road. One of the first stops was the West Nassau Dialysis Center, which has the rear of the building facing Rockaway Avenue. Those on the tour said the building looks nice and is well maintained, but it doesn’t encourage people to come to Valley Stream’s business district at night.
Sabatino rhetorically asked the group why Rockaway Avenue has not traditionally been an evening destination. The answer, he said, was because there are many service-oriented businesses on Rockaway — banks, offices, a car wash — which close by nightfall.
“All of the offices around here bring a lot of business to Rockaway Avenue during the day,” he said, “but it evacuates after 5, 6 o’clock.”
Outside the dialysis center, the group discussed the movie theater that was located there years ago and said it would be a perfect fit on the avenue now. Kathy Bogle, secretary to the village Board of Trustees, said her parents had their first date at the theater decades ago.
Sabatino suggested that a “master plan” be created for the avenue, which would detail a theme and look into aspects like pedestrian and vehicle traffic, parking and safety. Now, Sabatino pointed out, if a developer has an idea for a business, the village cannot deny him or her even if the location could be used for a better purpose.