CB 14 June Recap

By Kami-Leigh Agard

If you thought sitting through a baseball game was trying, Community Board 14’s meeting this past Tuesday felt like the longest cricket match in history, otherwise known as the “Timeless Test.” That being said, the over three-hour meeting, which was the last before CB 14 goes on its customary summer hiatus, was chock-full of information about the Aids Center of Queens County’s (ACQC) public health vending machines coming to Rockaway, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy’s (JBRPC) development plan for Floyd Bennett Field, the MTA’s re-rehashed plan to make commuting by subway to and from Rockaway more expedient, and more.

First off, here’s some encouraging news. CB 14 Chairwoman Dolores Orr shared that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey approved a notion that will reroute a significant number of airplanes flying overhead on the peninsula. If the Federal Aviation Administration approves, 1,272 families will benefit in terms of the reduction of overhead airplane noise.

Regarding east end residents who are barred from enjoying the beach due to the piping plover colonies, CB 14 District Manager Gaska read a letter that was sent on behalf of CB 14 to NYC Parks Commissioner Susan Donoghue. The letter stated: “We begin this correspondence with our bottom line that the board (CB 14) strongly requests fairness and equity on the beaches adjacent to Beach 38th to Beach 57th Street must be open for use and have staff for the summer. Living on the Rockaway peninsula and Broad Channel island, we respect, appreciate, and cherish the nature around us… There are three piping plovers nesting areas, Edgemere, Fort Tilden and Breezy Point… With proper fencing, signage, and monitoring by NYC Park Rangers and volunteers, the beaches could and should be open to residents and visitors. It is only during the chick fledgling, which is approximately 29 to 35 days, that the beaches would be closed temporarily, as is done in Gateway National Park in Fort Tilden and Breezy Point beaches. It is our understanding that there are currently 10 paths of piping plovers in the Edgemere area. And yet, as of May 21, Parks has closed the beaches from 38th Street to Beach 57th Street for an endangered species nesting area… The Edgemere community has a population of approximately 19,000 residents, 50% black, 32% Hispanic. Their beaches have been closed for years. We believe it is not for the protection of the endangered piping plovers, but an excuse for NYC Parks to direct staffing to the western end of the peninsula. With the new nature preserve and Parks building on 41st Street with restrooms, the Edgemere community and visitors should have full access to the beach and water.” Gaska said he is still waiting for a response to the letter.

For the public speaking segment, local resident, musician and magician, Adam Cardone, presented his case as to why the Beach 95th Street Amphitheater should be named after the 1970s punk rock band, The Ramones. He said, “I’m here to propose to name our new amphitheater after rock and roll band from Queens, The Ramones. The reason is, first of all, they were formed in 1974 and are considered the grandfathers of punk rock, and that movement of punk rock spawned many other music movements. Also, they’re from Queens, NYC. The reason I think it’s appropriate to name this amphitheater after the world-famous Ramones, is because they wrote the theme song, ‘Rockaway Beach,’ which I’m sure a lot of you know. These guys embodied the working-class version of musicians. So, to name this amphitheater after these guys, it’s very celebratory. It reflects our values as residents of Queens, New York. I have over 1,600 signatures of individuals who support naming the amphitheater after The Ramones. On August 12, we’re actually hosting a Ramones Music Fest at the Amphitheater.”

Now on to ACQC’s presentation. So, what exactly is a public health vending machine? According to the Aids Center of Queens County’s (ACQC), public health vending machines are an evidence-based, innovative tool to expand 24/7 access to life-saving public health supplies, including naloxone, fentanyl test strips, safer sex kits, sterile syringes, wellness supplies, and more. These machines have been successful at reducing overdose death and HIV transmission rates outside of the U.S. for several decades. Similar outcomes have been demonstrated over the last several years in Nevada, Ohio, Michigan, and more.

The ACQC representative said, “Rockaway was one of several neighborhoods that was selected in our request for proposals for placement of a public health machine. Given the high rates of overdose deaths we see in this community, in addition to these high overdose rates, we also see limited access to harm reduction services. This analysis further identified the specific zip code of 11691 to be the highest priority neighborhood for vending machine across all neighborhoods and Queens. We were awarded funding for this project in Rockaway.

“Seventy-nine percent of respondents indicated that they would use the vending machine if they placed it in Far Rockaway, and 60% indicated that they would access syringes if made available. So, the goals of the project are to reduce harm, right? To serve people who use drugs, to support people who use drugs, to provide resources to the community, to engage the community, and to build relationships. We do have a presence in Far Rockaway, but we want to continue to strengthen that presence and strengthen the relationships that we have within the community.”

For more info about the Aids Center of Queens County’s (ACQC) and the incoming public health vending machines, visit: acqc.org

Regarding the JBRPC’s plan for Floyd Bennett Field, they are beckoning the community to contribute to the development plans for the area. The rep stated, “We’re activating Floyd Bennett Field with public programming. We invite everyone to check it out. We’re running a series in the summary that we’re calling, ‘Floyd Bennett Field Reveal.’ It’s completely free. We’ve had a number of successful events already. For example, hikes, bike rides, nature journaling events and more. Plus, we have more kayaking programming, including next Friday, June 23.” For more info and to contribute your ideas, email: jbrpc.org

Regarding the MTA, when the train service is suspended for a 16-week period as planned for the winter of 2025, the MTA will be enhancing the existing bus service, and providing a subway shuttle that goes across the peninsula, very similar to what was done during Sandy between Rockaway Park and Far Rockaway. Additionally, they will be cross-honoring Metro Cards on the Long Island Railroad at the Long Island Railroad Car, Rockaway Branch Station. And they are also in discussions with the EDC about increasing ferry service. This is an ongoing discussion and there will be further meetings with the MTA and CB14.

Rockaway Stuff

Related post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *