Silver Lining: The Slow Re-Build of the Rockaways Boardwalk Could Create a Whole Lot of Local Jobs

Image via Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

As the Times reminded us earlier this week, parts of New York still have a long, long way to go before anyone can say we’ve fully recovered from Sandy, and the still-absent boardwalk in the Rockaways has served as one of the more depressing (or at least obvious) symbols of the storm’s long-term destruction. Well, the re-building process is finally getting off the ground in earnest, and may bring with it hundreds of jobs for residents in a neighborhood that’s still bearing the brunt of the storm’s damage.

The Daily News reports that the $274 million project is set to hire 200 to 300 workers, of which at least “several dozen” are expected to be locals. However, local City Councilman Donovan Richards is pushing for at least 50 percent of the hires to be Rockaway residents, and said, “We have an opportunity to really address the tale of two cities. I told the city I don’t care if they are waving a flag, I don’t want to see people coming in from New Jersey and California to work on this project.”

As Donovan points out, a number of Rockaway residents are still homeless or struggling in the wake of the storm, and 30 percent receive some form of government assistance. So, yes, this seems like a pretty huge opportunity to do something for a community that’s taken such a battering over the last few years. The Economic Development Corp. will be holding a job fair tonight between 7pm and 9pm at PS 43 (160 Beach 29th St.), and will be accepting applications for positions, or “collecting a database of Rockaway residents that are available to work on the boardwalk,” as a spokesperson put it. Local restaurants can apply to be considered as contractors if Skanska, the construction company doing the work, needs to purchase food in bulk for the workers. Let’s hope this all turns into something win-win for the Rockaways.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

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