Community Board 14 February Meeting Recap


The Community Board 14 (CB14) held its monthly meeting this past Tuesday, February 11. With an agenda outlining multiple different construction and land use projects, community members packed the Knights of Columbus, all eager to hear updates regarding construction proposals for the peninsula.

The meeting began with reports from CB 14 Chair Delores Orr, who expressed her disappointment regarding the MTA meeting held at the YMCA on February 6. This meeting’s purpose was to answer all general questions regarding the MTA, but questions about the Q53, Q22, and Q35 redesign seemed to be the main topic of discussion. Orr told community members that MTA representatives assured the people that they heard their concerns, “loud and clear.” However, she felt that they did not handle the meeting as best they could have. Prior to the meeting, attendees were allowed to submit questions they were promised would be answered, but that was not the case. Orr said that while she understands the process of submitting questions beforehand due to time constraints, she believes that representatives should follow their word by reading and answering every question submitted. Out of the six different questions Orr had submitted, they only answered one. She also stated that the only question of hers the MTA representatives did read out loud and answered, was in fact edited, as it was not read as what she wrote.

Next, was the public speaking portion of the meeting, which had a total of nine speakers. Many speakers expressed their disappointment with the MTA, not just about the redesign plan, but with the MTA as a whole. Outreach Director at St. John’s Baptist Church, Deacon Stillwell, spoke about how the MTA continuously promises members of the church they will work with them and help meet their needs, but have continuously failed to do so.

Another speaker, Michael O’Reilly, brought to the board’s attention, that with the help of Senator Addabbo and Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato, residents of Broad Channel have issued a new bill to Albany, which would prohibit the dumping of contaminated material into Jamaica Bay. He stated that the bill had unanimous support by the NYS Assembly and Senate. However, when the bill was sent to Governor Cuomo, it was vetoed. Although issued by members of the Broad Channel community, O’Reilly felt it was important to inform CB14, because this also affects members of Far Rockaway, Arverne, and Edgemere, as these contaminated materials are being dumped, “right in our backyards, off the 59th Street Marina and 40th Street.” O’Reilly concluded his speech by urging the community to contact elected officials for their help because this, “has got to stop.”

After the floor was closed to the public, representatives from the NYC Department of Design and Construction team presented future plans for the Breezy Point Coastal Resiliency Project. Due to the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, they stated that they are here to, “provide a reliable and integrated thought protection system,” for Breezy Point residents. With federal funding of $58 million, the project’s main mission is to reduce the risk of coastal flooding. In order to keep the coastal surge of water from coming in, they will create a perimeter system around the community to keep waters out as they rise. This perimeter system will be made of sheet pile that can withstand the salt environment, allowing it to have a long lifespan regarding the threat of water corrosion. It will also include two gates at the East and West ends of Breezy, which can be opened and closed at any time. In response to the design team’s plan, Orr expressed her concerns regarding who will be responsible for opening/closing the gates, because she feels that residents should have control regarding their gates. The team assured CB14 that they are still in the initial design process, but, “pedestrian access is critical, and are actively engaging these proposals with the community.” They also stated that there will be no ramps at the gates’ openings, making it accessible for people with disabilities. Construction is expected to start between winter 2020 and early spring of 2021.

The meeting continued with Committee Reports from the Housing and Land Use Committee. Due to the absence of Alan Moore and Mike Tubridy, Orr read the committee’s reports, regarding proposed zoning map amendments of Commercial Overlay at 137 Beach 116th, and the proposal of a senior housing project at 450 Beach 67th and 430 Beach 68th. Both of these items from the committee are Pre-ULURP, meaning they are coming to CB14 before submitting their application, keeping the community involved with future plans.

Regarding the first proposal, the report expressed that there is currently a condo building at this location that is undergoing construction. The One Sixteen development has 86 housing units, and guarantees 100% parking for residents. The owners are also looking to put in a commercial tenant that hopes to open a 3000 sq. ft. Orange Theory Fitness Gym. Because this location’s zoning is currently a R7A/C1-3, the committee is proposing to have its zone changed to a R7A/C2-4, because its current zoning does not allow fitness gyms.

The committee’s second proposal is to create a senior housing project next to the House of Worship on Beach 67th and across the street on Beach 68th. They are looking to change its current zoning from R4A to a R6 zone, which will result in a nine story building with 84 units and 13 parking spots. However, because they will receive federal funding, they can only give a preference for seniors on a borough level, meaning there is no guarantee specifically for Rockaway seniors. Because of this, the committee asked for letters of support from all of the neighboring properties, and that they fully understand what this up-zoning means. This up-zoning also includes adjacent lots, where they hope to build a school for Peninsula Prep to relocate from St. Mary’s. While CB14 members praised plans for the senior housing, some expressed their confusion on why Peninsula Prep should be relocated. To their response, Orr said, “It is a very complicated project, and a lot more needs to come with it. It is just the first chapter in a very long book.” The meeting then concluded with agreeing to discuss next month about establishing a future meeting with the city planning, in order to get a better understanding on these proposals regarding zone amendments.

 By Marina Cregan