As 2019 concludes, Community Board 14 (CB14) held its final meeting on Tuesday, December 10 at 7:15 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus on Beach 90th Street. There was a strong turnout of concerned Rockaway residents, eager to hear news and updates regarding Education, Transportation, Parks and Public Safety, as well as other issues.
CB14 District Manager, Jonathan Gaska, started the meeting by reading his letter to Mayor de Blasio, requested by the Board in October, advocating for a Gifted and Talented School on the east end. Gaska said CB14 had conducted a review, having multiple conversations with parents. It was concluded that although some progress has been made, much more needs to be done to improve academics. The Board requested a Magnet Middle High School to be built. Further, due to coming construction, they believe that two new schools need to be created to accommodate over 1,000 students in the 11691 and 11692 zip codes. CB14 concluded that schools are already over capacity.
Before opening the floor to public speaking, CB14 Chair Dolores Orr, expressed her disappointment with the Parks Department. She said the Board had requested, but had no record of receiving, previous Requests for Proposals (RFPs) regarding boardwalk concessions before Parks issued a new one this fall. And the Board remains in the dark regarding 2020 plans.
Eleven Rockaway residents signed up to speak when the floor opened, all discussing issues in support of improving the east end, whether it be transportation needs or the parks and public safety for the community. Karla Burac, a resident from Beach 61st Street, called attention to the installed speed-humps, “not speed-bumps,” and street conversion between Beach 61st and 62nd Street. Burac expressed her gratitude for CB14’s support for Beach 61st Street residents, however, these newly-installed speed-humps are just not high enough, she asserted. According to Mundy, the only way to get these speed-bumps raised are if they are close to a school, a playground, or hospital. She said the humps are one block away from a playground, yet nothing has been done.
After the floor was closed to the public, board member Jose Velez discussed the results of the Nominating Committee, stating that all of the people currently serving on the Board wish to stay and there were no objections. So, for the upcoming election, which will be held in January 2020, CB14 will be keeping their current slate for the Board.
Harold Paez, of the Education Committee, gave updates regarding the Committee’s November 13 meeting. Paez applauded the ribbon-cutting ceremony of Far Rockaway High School’s new library, which expanded its facility with all new furniture and brand new computers. Yet again, another step in the right direction for the east end’s education system.
Next up was Christopher Tedesco speaking on behalf of the Transportation Committee, which seemed to stir up the most discussion of the night. Tedesco gave a brief update on the creation of the Queens Link, which would give Rockaway residents more accessible ways to travel into Manhattan. Instead of connecting the Queens Link to LIRR, Tedesco stated that the committee thinks it’s best to connect the Link to NYC Transit, benefiting residents with the farthest commute. He also discussed the outcome of the pilot Mott Avenue Ferry Shuttle Bus that ran this past summer. On some days, no riders took the free shuttle service, and because it was just a pilot program, these results were just not enough to keep its funding. Regarding the A train, Tedesco revealed that with the installation of the new R179 subway cars, each car has exactly 24 seats less than older trains, leaving 196 less seats for residents. This bit of news outraged some, and community members motioned for CB14 to write a letter, pleading to increase the number of A trains, in hopes of making commuting somewhat easier for commuters.
Last on the agenda, Velez took the floor again, speaking on behalf of the Parks and Public Safety Committee. He discussed the progress on the Nameoke Park capital project on Beach 20th Street. "Oh, and what a great park it will be," Velez enthused. He said there will be 29 benches, play areas for children ages 2-5 and 5-12, climbing rock elements, adult fitness stations, and most importantly—a comfort station. Although a comfort station drastically increases the budget (raising the total budget to $10 million), Velez expressed how important the station is in keeping the park clean and child-friendly.