Community Board February Meeting Wrap Up

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 Community Board 14 met via Zoom on Tuesday, February 9, with 85 attending.

District Manager Jonathan Gaska reported a letter has been sent to Senator Chuck Schumer requesting funding and immediate assistance by this spring for Rockaway’s severely storm-ravaged beaches. It points out they are “not only local beaches, but service the whole city.” 

Gaska announced the Army Corps of Engineers will attend next month’s meeting with “updates on an important issue. I can’t tell you what it is yet. But it is good news.” Chairperson Dolores Orr praised the Department of Sanitation’s “incredible job” with recent heavy snowstorms.

Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato reported on ongoing deliberations regarding Governor Cuomo’s proposed New York State budget. “There are massive cuts, especially to education,” she said. But they are going over each item carefully, sending back recommendations until an acceptable final budget is reached. Sending her own letter regarding beach erosion to Schumer, she stated “it looks good for federal funding.”

Amato, along with Safe Horizon and the Shalom Task Force will hold online discussion on Thursday, February 18 6-7:30 p.m. in recognition of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. “We want to make sure our teens are aware and are in a healthy environment,” she said. She will also host the NYC Department of Finance seminar to help residents with their Notice of Property Value statement, and online CPR in early March.

Regarding reported difficulties with scheduling COVID-19 vaccine shots, she noted no immediate fix is available, but constituents, especially seniors, can call her office at 718-945-9550 for assistance.

Ciara Donley from Councilman Eric Ulrich’s staff reported free, no-appointment COVID testing is available Mondays and Tuesdays, except for February 15, 9:30- 4 p.m., throughout the month at their offices at 114-12 Beach Channel Drive.

Borough President Donovan Richards’ staffer Malik Sanders advised the BP will be joining the meetings in the near future. Joseph Addabbo’s representative Sandee Doremus reported the State Senator is currently working on a long list of bills affecting Rockaway. State Senator James Sanders’ Stephanie Castillo Samoy reported he is holding monthly community leader call with “to air out issues they are aware off.” 

Representing Queens DA Melinda Katz, Dan Brown announced they are having a winter coat drive. Coats can be dropped off at Queens Borough Hall and other locations. For more information call 718-286-6000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. They are also conducting a Scam Awareness and Fraud seminar on March 10. Contact 718-286-6000 for more details and to register.

Assemblymember Khaleel Anderson announced proposed legislation to reduce NYCHA rents accordingly due to utility outages and to have healthcare agencies test their staff for COVID. He also voted to pass bills for up to eight paid hours for all workers to get the vaccine, and to extend enhanced death benefits for families of municipal workers who have passed on from the pandemic.

Guest speaker Rachel Amar from the NYC Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings explained OATH is the “city agency you go to contest a summons issued by any city department” other than for traffic or parking violations. A large percentage are issued by the Department of Sanitation, and thousands go into default because “people don’t know what to do with them.”

“A default judgement can result in a negative impact of your credit score,” even while many are struggling financially due to the pandemic. OATH has sent invitation mailings to pop-up courts and also has online hearings and one-click summons responses. You can reach the OATH Help Center at www1.nyc.gov/site/oath/about/help-center.page.

Next, Omar Suarez of the NYC Campaign Finance Board made a presentation on Ranked Choice Voting. The upcoming special election for City Council District 31, which includes Rockaway, will be the second time it will be used.

He explained primary and special election voters can choose up to five candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives more than 50% of first-choice votes, counting will continue until those with the lowest vote tallies are eliminated. “You still have a chance to weigh in even if your first-choice candidate is counted out,” Suarez said. Early voting runs from February 13 to 21, with election day on February 23.

During Public Speaking, Democratic District Leader Lew Simon asked for volunteers to drive and deliver food to help seniors in the area. Those interested can call 718-945-1216. Also, donations to help injured resident Walter White can be sent to Good Government Regular Democratic Club, 140 Beach 113th Street, Rockaway Park NY 11694 or sent via Venmo to @WalterWhiteRBNY.

Bayswater Civic Association’s Eugene Falik, asked the Board to write to the DEC requesting storm drains be equipped with gates so sewage does not overflow into streets, and to alert them when repair is needed. Adapting newer designs now being installed in Broad Chanel was later discussed for this and other peninsula street raising projects.

Director Susan Lavin of Kingsborough Community College introduced the My Turn Program for 50+ seniors. Their Aging Mastery program, Tuesday/Thurs 3-4:30pm April 27-May 27 offers tips on sleep, exercise, financial fitness, advanced planning and senior-centric food/cooking lessons. For more information call 718-368-5079.

Christine Rock of The Campaign Against Hunger announced they’re looking forward to re-opening the market at their farm on Beach 45th Street and Beach Channel drive this Spring, where they grow over 100 varieties of fresh produce. Cash, credit cards and EBT will be accepted.

TCAH is also offering free tax prep help. Contact 718-773-3551 or www.tcahnyc.org  for info.

Christine James announced the Bring Back Rockaway residents’ group is kicking off a peninsula-wide clean up event on April 24. More details will follow and the Board offered to help get the word out.

Reporting for CB14’s Health and Social Services Committee, Felicia Johnson and Sonia Moise announced the number of patients testing positive for COVID at St. Johns Hospital has gone down. The hospital has also been designated to provide the vaccine solely for health caseworkers/first responders throughout the entire peninsula. Patients will need to bring ID and proof of their work status. For assistance contact 718-869-7750 or ehis.org.

The Committee also met with Planned Parenthood which would like to have a mobile van here provide women’s health services such as mammograms, STD testing and pregnancy testing, OB-GYN, family planning. As they offer diagnostics only, they are looking to collaborate with St. John’s and others to provide follow up treatment. The co-chairs will work with Director Gaska to work out the logistics and help get information out to the community.

Under Old/New Business, the Board agreed to join Scholars Academy’s student government and School Leadership Team to support keeping in place Sibling Priority polices even though the city has shifted to a school admissions lottery system.

They agreed also to oppose National Park Service’s proposal to move the Rockaway Little League from Fort Tilden to fields in Breezy Point’s beach club areas. Among other issues, they cited the lack of public transportation would cut off participation for many families.             

Gaska reported DOT, which is doing a study of traffic safety issues for Seagirt Boulevard’s entirety from Nassau County’s borderline to Rockaway Freeway, will present at March’s meeting.

Finally, Chairperson Orr asked all to support the local restaurants, which re-open this Friday with 25% indoor capacity, and wished all a happy Valentine and Presidents Days.

By Dan Guarino

 

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