CB14 Back in Full Swing After Summer

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After a summer hiatus, Community Board 14 came back in full swing at the Knights of Columbus on Monday, September 24.  In addition to Budget Committee and Parks Committee reports, the meeting was jam-packed with updates and gripes.

The meeting kicked off with Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato providing updates on some of the work she’s doing, including introducing legislation that would give coverage to all of those not currently covered under programs that provide help for people getting sick from 9/11-related illnesses, like health and hospital workers that may have been near Ground Zero. She also said she’ll re-introduce legislation in January to eliminate the toll on the Cross Bay Bridge.

Manuel Silva of Councilman Donovan Richards’ office was on hand to present a much-deserved Proclamation to Portia Dyrenforth for all of her service and hard work as Parks’ former Rockaway Administrator. Dyrenforth was thanked several times by different speakers throughout the meeting.

CB14 chair Dolores Orr mentioned the recent drowning of Lamine Sarr, 17, and reiterated the need to introduce water safety courses to schools across the city. She also spoke about the work that took place along the A train line this summer, noting that it was completed on time, but a steel wall can now be seen at the Rockaway Dog Park, so the MTA has accepted a request for ARF-ARF or another group to paint the wall with a mural to make it more aesthetically pleasing. Continuing with the MTA, Orr also spoke about the recent change to the Q22 bus route. She reminded the room that CB14 heavily rejected the plan, but it still went forward. The plan now has Q22 buses stopping in front of the Dunkin Donuts on Beach 116th Street, which is causing disruptions. Orr said she witnessed a Q22 letting passengers out onto the street, blocking traffic to the street corridor, as another bus was already parked at the stop. She sent photos to the MTA but has not yet received a response.

Next up, Captain Louron Hall, the new head of the 100th Precinct, introduced himself and addressed some concerns. Captain Hall said that the 100th Precinct has seen the largest crime reduction in the city in the past year, with a 24 percent reduction in crime, or 85 fewer crimes than last year. He also spoke about a new initiative starting in November, for both of Rockaway’s precincts, in which officers will be partnering with the Department of Education to run a football program with youth, ages 9 to 11, that have been identified as at risk, in order to keep them busy and off the streets. The program will begin with 80 boys and will expand to include a basketball program for girls starting in January. A question was raised about the recent incidents of local police seemingly forcing block parties to shut down early. Captain Hall explained that this has been an issue of party organizers not filing the proper permits, and that while he insists he’s not trying to prevent people from having fun, rules must be followed and going forward, officers will explain to organizers, what can and can’t be done according to the specific permit, before the party happens so that there are no violations.

Many signed up for public speaking at the meeting. With CB14 being on hiatus over the summer, many brought up the biggest issue of the season—the beach closures, and requested the urgency for the city to act and have a plan for the next beach season, including adding more sand to the beaches. Others also brought up the recent drowning and suggested that the lifeguard season be extended through weekends in September to prevent such incidents.

A representative from Queens Law Associates spoke about some of the services they offer, like representing low-income people charged with crime and providing family legal services.

Tracy Obolsky, owner of the Rockaway Beach Bakery, near Beach 87th Street and Rockaway Beach Blvd., spoke about the horrendous, unsafe traffic conditions that have occurred in front of her store, due to ongoing construction. She told the Board that the work has been on hiatus for several weeks and it is severely impacting her and other businesses.

Anna Palmer, who lives near Seagirt Ave., spoke about several lots being used as dumping grounds in the area, and nothing being done because they are private properties. Another resident who lives on Beach 43rd also spoke about lots being neglected and overrun with weeds and garbage. She urged others to call 311 so something can be done about them.

Regina Johnson, who is trying to open a new charter school in Far Rockaway, Legacy Academy, spoke briefly about why she is opening the school and requested that others become involved so that it is specifically geared towards students living in Far Rockaway.

A representative from Councilman Richards’ office spoke about some upcoming events like the Bayswater Fall Festival, happening from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on October 14, and the upcoming Rockaway Beats Cancer Walk with the Arverne Cancer Support Group on October 20. Plus Richards’ office will be holding classes on how to become a 501c3 group and grant writing seminars. For more information, his office can be reached at 718-471-7014.

Florence Ferguson spoke about some of the new Beach 59th Playground design and the desire to keep the fence height the same as it is currently. She said a letter has been written to Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver to address this. She also mentioned that the Playground will be holding a fall festival on October 13.

JK Canepa spoke about an upcoming meeting on Offshore Wind Power. People can learn about the project that could be coming to Rockaway at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 27 at Peninsula Library. Another woman named Lee then spoke about the ongoing fight against the Williams Pipeline and provided some updates such as recent pipeline accidents and political staffers that are involved with Williams. Updates can be found by following Sane Energy Project on social media.

Rick Horan spoke about the inaugural season of the Community Boathouse’s kayaking program at Beach 88th, and the new Parks design for the park. He suggested that the temporary kayak storage facilities that are currently being used, be incorporated into the new plan to store people’s personal kayaks for a fee, which will be used to fund a future bathroom for the park.

Following public speaking, the Budget Committee spoke briefly about some of CB14’s budget items, many of which are very old, as the city has no obligation to follow the suggestions, but a new item has been requested, to fund sand replenishment from Beach 91st to Beach 101st.

The Parks Committee reported on the 10 Parks capital project plans for Rockaway, as detailed in the September 20 edition of The Rockaway Times. Representatives from Parks said that most of the amendments requested for the plans, can be done without issue, and they provided an updated that a study has already been done and additional lighting can be added to some Parks projects that were requested to have more lighting. All of the projects were voted on the by the Community Board, with most passing unanimously. The last project, the Beach 88th Bay Breezy Park and kayak launch, needs to be reworked and will be voted on at the next CB14 meeting in October.

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