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City Considers Demolishing Historic 'Surf's Up' Bus Shelter for New Park

By Katie Honan | March 3, 2015 5:23pm
 The Parks Department's plan to rebuild a playground may require tearing down a piece of art
City Considers Demolishing Historic Bus Shelter to Accommodate New Park
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ROCKAWAY BEACH — A historic bus shelter that survived Hurricane Sandy may face the wrecking ball to accommodate a new park and protective sand dune, according to a local civic group and the Parks Department.

The Parks Department plans to rebuild a greenspace destroyed by the 2012 storm near Beach 107th Street, called Sandpiper playground, a spokeswoman for the department said.

But they are also exploring the possibility of demolishing an adjacent bus shelter to fit the park and the dune, which is part of the push to protect the peninsula from future storms.

"The goal of the reconstruction of Sandpiper playground is to make it a more resilient facility and to include the recreational amenities that the community is looking for," spokeswoman Meghan Lalor said.

The shelter on Beach 107th Street features a group of surfers riding different waves, and is entitled "Surf's Up."

It and three others on Shore Front Parkway were designed by Robert Moses for the 1939 World's Fair, and renovated by artist Esther Grillo in 1997, according to a 2003 article published in The Wave.

She painted each shelter with different designs over six years, and hoped the new look would contribute to Rockaway's revitalization, according to the report. 

Grillo received support from a number of agencies, including the Rockaway Artists Alliance, Queens Council on the Arts and private donations. 

The artist could not immediately be reached for comment. 

Parks officials presented the plan to the Rockaway Beach Civic Association for "early input" and discussed potential designs — including one that destroys the shelter, which is no longer used as an actual bus stop.

But it was one of a few oceanfront structures to make it through the 2012 storm unscathed, according to Eddy Pastore, who is the parks chair of the RBCA. 

"It's the one thing that survived, the people are not going to go for this," he said.

The demolition plan also came out of "left field," Pastore said.

"It looked like they were trying to run it by to see what kind of reaction they can get," he said.

The planned dune will also impact the number of handball courts rebuilt on Shore Front Parkway, an official said. 

The plan will be presented Tuesday night by Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski at Community Board 14's parks and public safety committee meeting.

The meeting will be held at Martin de Porres High School (the former Stella Maris High School) on Beach 112th Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard at 7 p.m.