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Rockaway Rebound

TimesLedger Newspapers

Storm-battered Rockaway Beach is opening as promised Memorial Day weekend despite some tough odds, and it’s time for Queens residents to support the peninsula by going out for the day to play.

Hurricane Sandy destroyed the boardwalk, pummeled businesses along the oceanfront, gutted playgrounds and displaced tons of sand from the beach.

Rockaway Beach is still a work in progress and a small miracle in the making after city Parks Department crews put in a Herculean effort to restore the borough’s summer playground.

The boardwalk has not been replaced yet, but the stanchions remain like so many sentinels guarding the beach. There are concrete ramps leading down to the water from Ocean Front Parkway and new benches planned for the main plaza.

This year’s trip to Rockaway Beach may take a little imagination, although the ocean is the same, still drawing surfers to the waves.

A number of restaurants, bars, shops and food stands remain closed, but the reopened ones need an influx of customers.

Tourism is the economic engine of the Rockaways, which was undergoing a small renaissance last summer as hipsters from Brooklyn began flocking to the beach scene. That ended Oct. 29.

Queens opened its heart and wallets to the Rockaways after Sandy and, even though this outpouring is continuing, at some level it’s time for the borough to help return these beach communities to some sense of normalcy.

The reopening of the A train is a big step toward resuming life’s regular routines after Far Rockaway residents endured long commutes to other parts of the city by car and bus. It also means visitors can once again hop the subway for an easy ride to the beach.

The future of the ferry to Manhattan and Brooklyn, put into action after Sandy, remains uncertain. But the city should continue the service to bring day-trippers to the beaches throughout the summer and to get the word out that there is affordable transportation to the Rockaways, which are open for business.

We should set aside some time to go out to the Rockaways by car, subway, bus or bike and drop a few dollars at the local pub or food vendor and look around at how Mother Nature decided to rearrange the landscape.

And after returning to the mainland, some of us might also be inspired by the indomitable spirit of Rockaway residents and business owners to rebuild and survive.

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