WHY IT'S BEATING THE BUST: Not necessarily in this order, but affordable housing, recreational opportunities and a convenient commute into Manhattan via two Long Island Rail Road stations top the list by local real estate agents.

East Rockaway homeowners enjoy easy access to the city while enjoying a suburban lifestyle, says Barbara Green, a resident and an agent at Ed McNulty Realty in East Rockaway.

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Karen Elefante, also an agent at Ed McNulty Realty, says, "We have a price point that sells," referring to homes listed from the $300,000s to the $500,000s. The high-end market, however, remains sluggish, Elefante adds.

WHAT THE NUMBERS SHOW: An increase! The 2009 fourth-quarter median sale price rose 14 percent, to $404,500 from $355,500 in the same period in 2008. The number of sales climbed to 21 from 10.

THE SCOOP: Compact and lively, this boating community is composed of a village and the unincorporated area of Bay Park, which hugs the border of Hewlett Bay and East Rockaway Channel.

"There is real community spirit here," says Dennis McCabe, a resident and village clerk-treasurer. Residents are engaged in the community, as is Mayor Ed Sieban, whom McCabe describes as energetic, involved and accessible.

Among the latest in an ongoing series of community enhancements (often funded by grants) is the construction of a new recreation building at the John Street Recreation Complex, where there are athletic fields and courts.

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ATTRACTIONS: Waterside recreation areas include Bay Park and Hewlett Point Park. The senior activity center is on James Street.

FAMOUS RESIDENT: Actor Brian Keith graduated from East Rockaway High School in 1939.

NEXT WEEK: Port Jefferson

OTHER STATS

Town: Hempstead

Area: Village, 1 square mile; Bay Park, .5 square mile

ZIP code: 11518

Population: Village, 9,750; Bay Park, 2,170

Median age: Village, 42.4; Bay Park, 43.7

Median household income: Village, $72,796; Bay Park, $76,689

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Median home value: $390,000**

Median age of homes: 58*

Percent owning home: 71.2*

Percent renting home: 26.7*

LIRR time to NYC: 39 to 47 minutes at peak

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Monthly ticket: $232

School district: East Rockaway and Lynbrook

SOURCES: Claritas 2009; www.mlsli.com; Long Island Rail Road;

*Village and Bay Park combined.

**Based on sales in the past six months, according to Multiple Listing Service of Long Island