2015-08-21 / Columnists

It’s More Than A Dunkin’ Donuts

Eye On Rockaway
Commentary by Miriam Rosenberg

It was amazing to read some of the reactions after Councilman Donovan Richards posted photos of the Dunkin’ Donuts / Baskin Robbins sign going up in the Thriftway Shopping Center last week. I say some, because most were positive and people were glad to hear the news.

Negative comments included: “Really??? Another Dunkin’ Donuts??? BTW there are seven others on the peninsula” and “We need more jobs! People of color need to have their own businesses in their own community! The money is being taken out of our community! Who owns the Dunkin’ Donuts?” and “WE don’t need any more DUNKIN’ DONUTS! WE NEED HEALTH FOOD!”

While these may be valid concerns, this is not just another Dunkin’ Donuts, which will be the sixth on the peninsula.

It is not just another chain store. Even who the owner is doesn’t matter. What it represents is more important. It represents the rebirth of the Shopping Center, a place that for decades was home to many types of stores. From an eye doctor to a furniture store, to a clothing store, there was a Martin’s Paints and more. Many who live here now may not remember back to the ‘60s and 70’s when these stores populated the mall. A new store opening in one of these shuttered storefronts is a sign of an upswing for the future of downtown Far Rockaway.

No one knows what other enterprises are yet to be brought in, though there are so many possibilities. Negotiations are ongoing right now. From what I hear, there may be some pleasant surprises in store. So hold off the criticism.

As for jobs and local ownership of businesses, without somebody willing take a chance on the rebuilding of Rockaway, others will not follow. Until now opportunities have been slow to develop, especially for area residents. This should be just the beginning of new businesses, hopefully many owned by locals, and jobs in the area.

The shopping center is the lynchpin to the downtown Far Rockaway business area. As it goes, so goes the rest of the area. So let’s hope this is just the beginning of something great. Oh, as for needing more health food in the area, I agree. If you really want to find organic you need to hop, skip, and jump among the east end stores. A health food/organic shop in the mall is not a bad idea.

The downtown Far Rockaway business district has a lot more to look forward to than just the revitalization of the shopping center. Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation’s new home will be directly across from the mall. In addition, Richards has said that he is awaiting final word on plans for new infrastructure — from sewers to raised streets — for the area. And work has begun, and is expected to be completed in the fall, on the renovation of the Beach 20th Street Pedestrian Walkway. Stay tuned folks. Things may actually be achanging.

Congratulations to the new board of the 101st Precinct Community Council for putting together one whale of a National Night Out Against Crime celebration at O’Donohue Park on Aug. 4. While the new board had less than a month to plan the Aug. 4 event, everything went off without a hitch. It included bounce houses, a water slide, face painting, entertainment, Zumba, and for the fourth year in a row, Applebee’s provided the food. And while it was not part of the NNOAC events, that same evening New York Restoration Project presented a showing of Back to the Future II at the park’s stage.

The 100th Precinct Community Council overcame their own obstacles for their NNOAC event. After being unable to hold the festivities at Beach Channel High School due to Department of Education red tape, the fun commenced at the parking lot by the 100th Precinct. It was a huge success. Both community councils came through with flying colors. It was a clear showing of Unity in the Community.

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