Community Board 14 Says NO to City of Yes

By Katie McFadden

When a Community Board meeting centers around something that most can agree on, it sure goes by quick. That was the case during this month’s Community Board meeting on Monday, January 29.

After this month’s original meeting was postponed due to a storm on January 7, Community Board 14 met at the Knights of Columbus on Monday to discuss the Economic Opportunity portion of the City of Yes plan. And with enough members in attendance to hold a quorum, a vote was able to be held, and like many others, Community Board 14 gave a resounding NO to City of Yes.

Chairwoman Dolores Orr announced that some items from the January 7 meeting would be addressed on Monday, while the rest will be picked up at the next monthly meeting in just two weeks on Tuesday, February 13.  Remarks by elected officials and local precincts were skipped over on Monday, so the meeting jumped right into public speaking.

One man brought up an ongoing issue regarding an occupied home on the beach block of Beach 134th Street, that has been neglected since Hurricane Sandy. “There’s no running water or electricity in the house and the person living in it has been a menace to us,” the neighbor said, adding that a petition has been signed by more than 200 people, asking for the house to be condemned, especially with parts of the roof and chimney falling apart and causing damage to neighboring properties. Orr said they were aware of the issue, and they will reach out to the Department of Buildings to see if anything can be done.

Michael O’Reilly, a retired attorney from Broad Channel, brought up the issue of housing migrants at Floyd Bennet Field. “It doesn’t take a genius to realize this is going to tax and overburden every one of us. We simply cannot absorb 100,000 people overnight in New York, regardless of their immigration status. I feel badly for these people that came across the border and up to New York. We made certain promises to them and then we put them in tents in a flood zone in the winter. It’s a horrible situation. It’s no good for them, no good for us and we are fighting it. We have a case pending in Kings Supreme Court and I hope you join us and support us because summertime is coming and it’s only going to get worse,” he said.

Dwayne Richards requested that Community Board 14 meetings be held on Zoom, but the board did not offer a response to his request. Elizabeth Stor of JBRPC let everyone know that they are seeking local youth, ages 18-25, with a high school degree, to take advantage of a paid internship opportunity they are offering to help restore marshland. More information can be found at:

Others came to voice their views on City of Yes. Three people expressed their concerns over the plan and urged the board to not support it. “It’s imperative the board votes 100% against City of Yes,” Eugene Falik said.

Before the board got into discussions on City of Yes, with enough members to have a quorum, the nomination committee was able to nominate people to the executive board. All current executive board members are interested in reappointment including Dolores Orr for Chair, Felicia Johnson for first vice chair, Betty Leone for second vice chair, Jose Velez for third vice chair, Nancy Martinez for fourth vice chair and David Shelborne for secretary. However, John Cori also nominated Sonia Moise to the position of secretary, which she accepted. That position will go to a paper ballot vote at the next meeting.

John Cori of CB14’s Economic Development Committee was then asked to give a report from their December meeting with City Planning on the Economic Opportunity portion of the City of Yes plan. There are three parts to City of Yes that the city has been seeking feedback on. The first portion, Carbon Neutrality, was discussed last year but CB14 didn’t have a meeting on it, as the board didn’t take issue with the proposals. Now the city is seeking feedback on the Economic Opportunity portion that “would remove outdated limitations on businesses and ensure that local retail streets and commercial centers across the city can remain lively places that sustain our neighborhoods.” The Housing Opportunity portion will be up for review in April.

Cori explained that as they did not have a quorum at their committee meeting, the committee did not take an official position at that meeting, but “after an intense review of all 18 proposals, we make the recommendation for the general membership to oppose City of Yes as it is written,” Cori said. He then went into the four goals of the Economic Opportunity portion of City of Yes, that include the 18 various proposals that fall under the goals, explaining the specific proposals they agreed with, and the ones they took issue with. Among those that raised flags were a proposal that would allow for more corner stores in residential areas, and one that would expand the use of a residence to 49% for a home-based business.

Cori explained that they believe that overall, too many proposals are lumped into the plan and the committee members felt they should be up for discussion individually, but the city’s community boards have been asked to vote on the plan as a whole. Cori said, “we took input into consideration and since we oppose an overwhelming number of the 18 items in the four goals of City of Yes Economic Opportunity, we recommend that the full board say no to the proposal.”

Shortly after Cori gave his report, Brian Heffernan made a motion to oppose the plan. There was a short discussion among board members. Member Harold Paez pointed out that City of Yes seems to have a lot of support from agencies in Manhattan but believes the city didn’t really take into account residential neighborhoods in Queens when coming up with this citywide proposal. It wasn’t long before the board took the motion to a vote. With the exception of one member abstaining from the vote, the rest of the board members in attendance unanimously voted in support of saying NO to the City of Yes Economic Opportunity plan.

The meeting ended with the board requesting that nonmembers leave so they could discuss the potential candidate to fill the position for District Manager, which has been vacant since Jon Gaska retired in September.

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