CB 14 Comes Back After Summer Hiatus

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After a summer hiatus since May, Community Board 14 (CB 14) reconvened for their first meeting this past Tuesday, September 12 at the Knights of Columbus on Beach 90th Street, and from the surprising number of empty seats, either some folks were stuck doing their civic duty by reporting to the polls for NYC’s Democratic primary elections or just well, were still in summer mode.

According to Gothamist, only 14 percent of the city's registered Democrats went out to vote in the City’s Democratic primary election, making it the second least-attended primary in modern history, inadvertently helping Rockaway’s beloved Mayor de Blasio earn a decisive victory (74.6 percent) over his main challenger, Sal Albanese (15.2 percent). And just maybe our District 32 City Councilman Eric Ulrich may have a battle on his hands, as Democrat challenger Mike Scala won the primary with 44 percent of the vote. But more about that later.

The highlights:

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’s office representative, Dan Brown, awarded citations to CB 14 board members, Shalom Becker (20 years) and Annette Cohen (15 years) for their long service on the board, note both of whom were absent at the meeting.

Also Brown invited everyone to share information about the upcoming meeting this Tuesday, September 19 at 7 p.m. about the NYPD’s Counter Terrorism Bureau’s proposal to occupy the Army Reserve section of Fort Tilden (where the former Build It Back operations center was located). As reported in The Rockaway Times, “The proposal of the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau ‘is to use the existing buildings and property of the facility as a classroom and situational training facility to carry out its evolving mission.” The meeting will be held onsite at the former Fort Tilden Army Reserve Center (415 State Street and Breezy Point Blvd.)

CB 14 members questioned Brown about Katz’s approval to relocate the Beach 116th Fire House to the old HSBC bank, despite the Board’s disapproval and recommendation that the old Long Island Power Authority lot at Beach 112th Street was a better option. Gaska said, “This is not something Dan could answer, present your questions to Melinda herself.”

Board member Dan Mundy, Sr. then brought up a plausible point. “Wherever the fire house is re-located, the emphasis should be on resiliency measures. With Hurricane Sandy, our local fire houses had to make the difficult decision of relocating some of their vehicles and emergency equipment out of the area to higher ground to prevent all of them from being destroyed by the storm. Now, we see the same situation in Florida and Texas. We shouldn’t put that burden on the FDNY or other entities that are our go to for emergency and relief help during and after a hurricane. We need them fully resilient here — before, during and after a disaster such as a hurricane.

Brown said that he would bring this up to the Borough President, and CB 14 unanimously passed a notion that they would establish an ad hoc committee to address the resiliency measures of the new fire house and present their recommendations to the Office of Emergency Management. Mundy, Sr. agreed that he would be an active part of it.

A Department of Sanitation (DSNY) representative presented the Department’s Organics Curbside Collection community volunteer program to the board. “Starting this October, we are encouraging everyone in one- to nine-unit households to enroll in the program, where the DSNY will deliver indoor kitchen containers and outdoor brown bins for the collection of food scraps (fruit, vegetables, meat, bones, dairy, prepared food); food-soiled paper (napkins, tea bags, plates, coffee filters); and leaf and yard waste (plants, trimmings, twigs, grass). Not only does separating your food scraps and yard waste do a great service to the environment, but it also reduces the number of rodents such as raccoons, possums and other pests attacking your garbage. This program is also available to buildings, where more than nine residents occupy. We already have started enrolling folks in Queens, so get your enrollment card now,” the DSNY rep advised. For further information, visit: nyc.gov/organics or call 311.

In the public speaking session open to all attendees, Joe “The Ferry Guy” Hartigan expressed his concerns about maintaining the ferry’s ridership through the fall and winter months so that it is not taken away, and offered suggestions to take advantage of hot spots in Manhattan that could possibly guide folks to Rockaway and vice versa.

Mike Honan spoke about the privately-owned ambulances speeding through local streets, and inquired about the requirements for the first responders versus secondary responders. Then he brought up quite an unpopular, but well-known dispute. “Why is it that during the summer months, seven days a week in the 35-block area of Neponsit and Belle Harbor, folks aren’t allowed to publicly park on the streets? This affects not just residents, but neighboring residents and out-of-towners looking to visit and shop.” The answer, “The neighborhood doesn’t want it.”

Local youth advocate, Jeffrey Williams-Maisonet, stepped up to the plate by bemoaning the sinkholes and broken-up sidewalks in the Beach 60s and 70s areas, some attribute to Hurricane Sandy. CB 14 District Johnathan Gaska said that the Board will look into it. Then Williams-Maisonet commented on the layout of the room, “Are we together or divided? Looks like a room of Democrats versus Republicans.” Gaska guffawed, “This is the first time in my 25-year tenure, I ever heard a complaint about the layout of the tables in the room. Thanks Jeffrey.”

Finally, Board members unanimously voted in favor of adding awnings to the Beach 73rd and 74th areas on the boardwalk, where there is a playground.

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