Eager to get out of their homes, more than 100 people flocked to Rockaway Avenue Friday and Saturday nights, as the village closed the thoroughfare to traffic and opened the street to tables and chairs for on-street dining.
Village officials have promised to repeat the practice every Friday and Saturday from 4 to 11 p.m. for the rest of the summer, as one of a number of new and returning features residents can expect as the coronavirus continues to upend virtually every aspect of everyday life.
It was a long time coming, a handful of diners and bar-goers there said, after over three months of lockdown, and Rockaway’s closure came a week and a half after Nassau County entered Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, which allows outdoor dining.
With Long Island continuing to meet its Covid-19 benchmarks, Nassau was slated to enter Phase 3 of reopening, and open up restaurants to indoor dining, but at reduced capacity, on Wednesday, after the Herald went to press.
It also came roughly three weeks after Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced she was fast-tracking permits for local governments to close county roads, and place tables and chairs on the streets to bring at least some business back to Nassau’s beleaguered restaurants, which had been forced to switch to take-out only since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March.
Village officials said businesses are required to apply for permits to take advantage of on-street dining, but that fees would be waived.
“We have been working very hard to help our small businesses any way we can,” Trustee John Tufarelli said in a statement. “This pandemic has been very tough on them, and we continue to remind everyone to shop locally whenever possible.”
Summer drive-in movies
In addition to closing Rockaway on weekend evenings, the village has organized a schedule of drive-in movie screenings at the Hendrickson Park pool parking lot. The idea emerged after Lynbrook had organized similar events, according to Jimmy Fitanzo, director of recreation for the village. The move came amid continued uncertainty over whether village recreation programs would go forward as planned. The first screening took place June 12.
“We were trying to come up with some other things for the residents to do because 2020 has been pretty crazy, and we didn’t know what the summer recreation program schedule would look like,” Fitanzo said, adding that until recently, it was unclear whether the Barrett Park summer camp or village pool would open this year. The Valley Stream Chamber of Commerce provided a free bag of popcorn for moviegoers.
The screenings are free and open to village residents only, and each show fits about 125 cars. The next one will take place July 3. To sign up, visit the village website at vsvny.org
Summer camp and the pool
After months of uncertainty, the Barrett Park summer camp is returning this year, albeit in a limited and modified format.
Registration has been reopened, and the program will begin July 6. Originally, 2020 was set to be the first year in which the long-running camp gave parents the option for a full-day program. Instead, only the traditional three-hour morning programs are available.
Because of social-distancing restrictions, campers will be divided into groups of no more than 10, and they will be required to wear masks in cases where six feet of separation cannot be maintained.
Parents can sign their children up for individual days or weeks at the camp for $15 a day or $60 a week. More information is available on the village website.
Also in recreation, the Hendrickson Park pool will open this summer after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on June 11 that local municipalities would be allowed to reopen their pools and playgrounds at their discretion.
Village officials said they are aiming to open the pool in early July, but had yet to provide details.
On Monday, recycling returned to the village after a nearly three-month suspension. With it came the village’s dual-stream recycling schedule, with alternating days for paper and plastic, metal and glass, which were originally implemented in January.
Omni Recycling, the Westbury-based recycling firm the village contracts with, announced in late March that because of high coronavirus infection rates among its workers, it was further restricting the amount of non- or no-longer recyclable material it would accept without imposing additional fees.
In a March 26 letter sent to Sanitation Department Supervisor Brian Leavey, Anthony Core, president of the Westbury-based Omni Recycling, wrote that due to the manpower required to sort recyclable materials that have been contaminated, meaning they are mixed with items that are not or no longer able to be reprocessed, and a lack of protective gear for its workers, the company would only accept loads with zero contamination or otherwise impose an $80 disposal fee per ton. The village instead suspended recycling.
For more information on what is new this summer in Valley Stream, visit the village website at vsvny.org