Community Board 14 Ends the Year on a Hopeful Note
The last Community Board 14 meeting of the year was short but filled with yuletide cheer regarding the Arverne By The Sea community finally getting a school after years of unfulfilled promises, and the long-awaited Far Rockaway Queens Public Library’s construction nearing completion. Also, NYC Parks and Recreation with the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) were on deck to discuss Park’s pilot project for its new Rockaway maintenance garage and operational facility, which has been in dire conditions since Hurricane Sandy. Though an inadequate number of board members were at the meeting to call a quorum for any motions, CB 14’s last meeting of 2022 was quite informative.
First up, some bittersweet farewells. Sandy Doremus, a loved Rockaway local, who has represented Senator Joe Addabbo’s office as his Rockaway governmental liaison for over two decades, announced that she will no longer be attending the meetings due to Senate re-districting. Early this year, Senator Addabbo was sliced out of Rockaway due to redrawn district lines. Also, longtime CB 14 board member, Dan Mundy Sr., announced that he will be retiring from his post after years representing his community of Broad Channel. They will both be missed.
Regarding the long-awaited school Arverne By the Sea residents were promised years ago, CB 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska announced that next Tuesday, December 20 will be the groundbreaking—to which the room boomed with applause. According to Gaska, as to what grades the school will serve, he said, “I think K through eight, but I don’t know if they’re gonna go up to eight.” The location is on Rockaway Beach Blvd, currently a fenced-in vacant lot across from Congressman Meeks’ office on Beach 67th Street.
On the policing front, 100th Precinct NCO Lieutenant Powell and NYC Transit District 23 commanding officer, Captain Arsenio Camilo, who oversees all 12 train stations on the peninsula and Broad Channel, gave the following report: Lt. Powell said the 100th Precinct is up 40% in grand larceny, which includes car theft and credit card fraud. “We had one arrest that involved a non-fatal shooting. The arrest was made last week with the suspect charged with attempted murder,” Powell reported.
On the transit front, Commander Camilo warned, “When traveling on the train with your property, if you fall asleep and leave your bag at your side, you are opening an opportunity for someone to take your property. This is the season when individuals will be on the lookout to take your property. So, be careful.”
CB 14 board member John Cori asked the commander about homeless people sleeping on the trains. “At the last meeting, I brought up the problem about seeing people sleeping on the trains when I board at Beach 67th Street. You mentioned that the officers do an early-morning sweep at the Mott Avenue train station, but it’s not working. What’s happening?” Cori asked.
Camilo responded, “The Beach 67th Street train station is five stops from Mott Avenue, where we have our officers conducting an early-morning sweep of the trains. So, I’m proposing that I will send my officers to Beach 67th to look a look at what’s happening. However note, that this is the rule. If individuals are
sleeping on the train, we do not have the right to remove them. If they are outstretched over multiple seats, we ask them to sit up. We are not allowed to remove them. If you see an outstretched individual, speak to one of our officers directly.” The commander promised to again address the homeless issue at CB 14’s next meeting.
For some positive news on the law-and-order front, Dan Brown, representative for Queens D.A. Melinda Katz’s office, reported that at a gun buy-back event, hosted by the office this past November, 32 guns were surrendered at the 101st Precinct.
Parks Rockaway Administrator Eric Peterson then made some announcements. Peterson said, “’Tis the season for people who are interested in being lifeguards next season to start taking the qualifying test, to start training, to start preparing, so they can do well in the test.” For more info about lifeguard jobs, visit: https://www.nycgovparks.org/reg/life-guard-test
Mulch Fest is an opportunity for residents to wrap up the holiday season by bidding farewell to their Christmas trees. From December 26 to January 9, 2022, bring your tree to the drop-off only site at 94th Street and Shorefront Parkway. For more info about Mulch Fest, visit: https://www.nycgovparks.org/highlights/festivals/mulchfest
During public speaking, local resident Eugene Falik gave his two cents on the LGBTQ community’s concerns about losing their beloved “People’s Beach,” due to construction priorities in Riis Park. Falik commented, “We’ve had people from the LGBTQ community come here and talk about wanting to have proprietary interest in a city beach. Now, I don’t think they should be discriminated against, but I don’t think they should be discriminated for either.
“I think public facilities should be equally available to the public. And if they don’t like that, they’re welcome to buy some property, go somewhere else, I don’t know. However, if there’s a public beach, I think it needs to be available to everyone, and shouldn’t be reserved for any particular group.”
Now for the exciting news regarding the tail-off of construction for Far Rockaway Library, this is the update. The library’s senior construction project manager said, “We are pretty much close to handing over the building to Queens Public Library, sometime early spring. This is just a forecast, as it could be sooner. At the moment, we are doing our regulatory phase, which is inspections for the elevator, boiler, FDNY sprinkler and fire alarm. Unfortunately, we failed the boiler inspection and have to go back to the drawing board. However, we are close to taking all the construction barriers down, sometime early January.”
As for the final completion stages, it was stated that DDC will complete all work by spring 2023, and then it will take at least six months to outfit the library—meaning the much-awaited library won’t open its doors to the public until fall 2023.
Parks’ newly-minted maintenance and operational facility, which houses the department’s Rockaway administrative offices, storage and workshop spaces, locker rooms, bathroom, multipurpose rooms and vehicles, on Beach 74th Street and Amstel, is in the beginning stages of planning, so temporarily Parks will operate out of a temporary location on Beach 80th Street. The entire project is estimated at $27.4M.