Community Board 14 Returns

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 The days get a little shorter and cooler, beach crowds thin, schools open, and Rockaway gets back to business.

Upward of 50 residents filled the seats at the Knights of Columbus for Community Board 14’s first fall meeting on Tuesday, September 13. The night covered everything from Edgemere and Far Rockaway renewal to crime statistics, the ferry, beach cleaning, healthcare, NY Rising and possible homeless shelters. Community Board members themselves, were lightly represented and it wasn’t until later in the meeting that a quorum was reached.

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 by Chairperson Dolores Orr, along with District Manager Jonathan Gaska.  Bringing things up to date, Orr stated that recent proposals put out by New York Rising did not “correlate with the vision and expectations” of the various CB 14 committees’ input.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’ representative Dan Brown announced that she recently formed a New York Rising committee to bring together representatives from every area to work with the City to make their proposed projects happen. 

Gaska reported that the downtown Far Rockaway redevelopment plan supported by Councilman Donovan Richards is moving forward. Mayor de Blasio has committed $91 million to the multi-phase project, which will bring new shopping and housing to the area. “The Stark (Far Rockaway) Shopping Center is going away,” he said. He also praised community civic associations from all across the peninsula for offering their input.

Shouts of “Homeless shelter!” erupted when Gaska next reported on a planned 72 room hotel to be built between Mott and Cornaga Avenues.  He said the owners also own the controversial La Quinta Inn on Beach 43rd Street. He said it will most likely be approved, since no zoning changes required which would go through the Board.

Representatives from the NYC Housing Preservation and Development gave an update on HPD’s Resilient Edgemere urban renewal project. A summary will be released just ahead of a presentation of the draft plan on Saturday, September 24, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Residents are invited to offer their input at the Beach 41st Cornerstone Community Center at 426 Beach 40th Street.

According to HPD, the long term plan covers creating affordable housing, including 700 one and two family units, improving streets and amenities, and providing resilience and protection from sea level rising and future storms. It covers the area from Beach 49th Street to Beach 45th and from Rockaway Freeway to the bay.

Later, residents from the Edgemere Community Group addressed the meeting, stating loudly that they had given input but have been left out of the final plan. “None of our suggestions, our ideas were addressed. They just talked about NYCHA,” one woman said.

“There is nothing in Edgemere for the community. No supermarkets, no parks within walking distance. We need a hospital,” another woman said. “There is nothing in this plan for homeowners.”   The meeting audience responded with applause.

Several people also addressed various topics of concern during the meeting’s public speaking portion. Two Far Rockaway residents said a serious problem is developing as absentee landlords are buying up bungalows on Beach 25th Street. They say these are being used to house up to 20 ex-convicts and discharged mental patients per unit, with no supervision.  This includes a number of sexual predators, they said.

Jonathan Gaska advised them he and the Community Board could help, and asked for their information.

 A St. John’s Episcopal Hospital representative spoke about the hospital’s PAM (Patient Activation Measurement) Project. It focuses on for Rockaway residents without health insurance, and now Medicaid patients who use the emergency room as their primary care option. The program steers them to doctor’s who can work with their care situation.

 PAM is also conducting a survey about health care in the Rockaways. For more information call 718-474-2201, Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Community Education Council President Dr. Harold Paez introduced himself. He explained that the CEC‘s took the place of the old school boards and acts as the liaisons and advocates for the schools. He was there, he said, to open a dialogue with CB 14 on Rockaway’s educational issues.

Community Board member Noreen Ellis made a motion to work jointly with the new Council and also invite parents to join in that dialogue. The motion was passed.

The meeting adjourned shortly afterward, around 8:45 p.m.

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