May Community Board 14 Meeting Recap

 May Community Board 14 Meeting Recap

By Katie McFadden

It was a packed house at the monthly Community board 14 meeting at the Knights of Columbus on Tuesday, May 14. After all, the controversial City of Yes Housing Opportunity plan was on the agenda, plus much more.

The second to last meeting before the summer break began with an update from Rockaway’s police precincts. Captain Timothy P. Schultz of the 101st Precinct announced that the summer detail will begin on Friday, with 20 officers helping out on the beach and boardwalk from 10 a.m. until midnight, especially near O’Donohue park. Schultz also announced that Rockaway will be getting more tow trucks and traffic enforcement out on the streets. The 101 has also started its summer violence initiative with extra manpower on footposts in developments like Redfern and Edgemere from 5 p.m. to 2 or 3 a.m. Captain Rendon of the 100th Precinct announced that they are getting about 30 to 40 officers for their summer detail. He also spoke about the recent effort to crack down on things like illegal license plates on Rockaway’s bridges.

Episcopal Health Services’ new CEO Dr. Donald T. Morrish introduced himself to the community. He spoke about his background with St. John’s Hospital and the changes that the healthcare system is undergoing to make improvements. “I appreciate the support you’ve given. We’re certainly on the right trajectory,” Dr. Morrish said.

Next up, representatives for local elected officials provided updates. A rep from Senator James Sanders’ office spoke about a grant writing seminar for pastors that will be held June 13 at 9 a.m. Call 718-523-3069 for info. Margaret Powers of Councilwoman Joann Ariola’s office said she is participating in the budget process for the city. Cuts are not being made to law enforcement, FDNY or DSNY, but they are working on reinstating educations programs that faced cuts. Powers encouraged the public to attend budget hearings at City Hall to testify. She also read a statement from Ariola rejecting the City of Yes plan, and advised everyone to keep up with Ariola’s social media as bills are being introduced that her constituents may not be in favor of. She also reminded everyone of the Beach 116th Summer Kickoff on Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

William from Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson’s office reminded everyone that the Wise Walking Warriors program for seniors has started again, every Tuesday on the boardwalk at Beach 59th Street at 8:30 a.m. Dan Brown of Melinda Katz’s office reminded everyone of the recent arrest of a man on Beach 117th who had several illegal ghost guns. Kevin Morris of the Mayor’s Office spoke about efforts to shut down illegal pot shops, saying they closed down 75 in a week and issued $6 million in penalties. He also said there will be two NYPD classes this year, one in July and one in October, to hopefully add 1,200 more officers to the ranks. Renee Taylor from Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers’ office spoke about the many finance and housing workshops her office is holding in coming weeks. For info, see Brooks-Powers’ social media pages or call 718-471-7014.

In her report, Chairwoman Dolores Orr picked up on the precinct’s announcement of more tow trucks and traffic enforcement coming and said they will be focusing on Seagirt Blvd. and Shore Front Parkway. “There’s just not enough parking,” she said. In the past, it has been difficult to tow cars since the NYPD’s tow yard is in College Point, but they have worked out a deal to bring at least 10 cars to an area on the peninsula, so their towing efforts can be more effective, and they are looking into more locations. Orr also said that at a recent meeting with CB chairs, she learned that a letter that CB14 wrote about why they rejected City of Yes Economic Opportunity, was included in the city council’s report, implying that city council is taking feedback into consideration before voting on this issue. At a recent preview meeting of City of Yes Housing Opportunity, Orr says it was noted that nine of the city’s 59 community boards have built more affordable housing than the 50 others, and one of those is Rockaway. Orr and many on the board feel Rockaway should be exempt from having more housing built here for that reason and more. Lastly, she thanked Episcopal Health Services for allowing CB14 to use their Critical Learning Center for some recent committee meetings.

In her report, District Manager Felicia Johnson said they sent a letter to elected officials on April 11, showing their support for QueensLink and noted that a recent study was done showing that Queens has the worst subway coverage of all the boroughs, relative to population, and that should be a reason for officials to seriously consider reactivating QueensLink. She is also working on a letter to Chase to request that they reactivate full banking services on Beach 69th Street. The Office of Management and Budget recently approved funding to replace windows at Engine 329 on Beach 169th Street, and the DOT has approved a new traffic signal at Seagirt Blvd. and Fernside Place. A homeless encampment was recently cleared on Beach 41st Street in the Arverne East construction area. Johnson reminded all organizations that have applied for a street permit for an event to get in touch with her as many applications were missing info, so they can’t be approved until that is resolved. Lastly, she announced that lifeguards start Saturday, May 25, but the beach opening ceremony will be Tuesday, May 21 at 11 a.m. on Beach 94th Street.

Several residents spoke during public speaking. A man named Raphael said he is doing promo videos for small businesses to give them a boost, after he just finished doing one for Gift is Love. To reach out, email: or follow him on Instagram at 5bororaph. Joe Hartigan expressed concern over 20% of the peninsula’s beaches now being used to protect piping plovers and said those in Edgemere deserve access to their beach. He suggested that Chris Allieri of the NYC Plover Project be invited to have a discussion over beach access.

Charles Jacobs, owner of DredSurfer Grill, suggested that concession owners should be allowed to stay open an hour or two past 10 p.m. to take advantage of beachgoers who come in the summer to support them. Another man advocated for DredSurfer and suggested that their 10-year-lease be extended since his business was impacted by Hurricane Sandy and then Covid, so he didn’t get a full 10 years. Dr. Randi Nelson announced that a new multispecialty health center is opening soon at 29-15 Far Rockaway Blvd. For more info, see:

Tricia, an education coordinator for PAL Rockaway, announced Hope Day on June 8 at 12 p.m., at Goldie Maple Playground on Beach 56th Street. The event will feature face painting, bouncy houses, a rock wall, music, a grocery giveaway, food, games and more. A resident of Bayswater suggested that zoning be changed in Bayswater to allow for a healthcare facility to be built there. It was suggested that he set up a meeting with CB14’s Land Use Committee to discuss further. Wayne Richard once again requested that CB14 meetings and committee meetings should be recorded and put on Zoom so more people can tune in. Johnson said they don’t have the budget for it.

A woman named Fran from Beach 3rd Street spoke of the obstacle course that Seagirt Blvd. has become and suggested that the NYPD, NYC Parks and DOT come together to make it safer. She also suggested that the new bike lanes be removed from Seagirt Blvd. since it has become dangerous, and bike lanes can be placed on the boardwalk in that area. A rep from St. John’s announced their National Diabetes Prevention Program for those 18+ who are at risk of developing diabetes. Call 718-869-7454 for info. Eugene Falik spoke against “City of No” and showed his support for DredSurfer Grill.

Andrew Wasserman of the Department of City Planning was asked to present information on the Mayor’s City of Yes Housing Opportunity plan. This is the third installment of the city’s massive zoning reform proposal, with this portion focusing on housing. Community Board 14 will have to vote on it at their June 11 meeting, and it will come to a final vote before City Planning in September and the full City Council at the end of the year. CB14 got some information during a Housing and Land Use committee meeting on April 25, but gave Wasserman the opportunity to present the plan to the full board.

Wasserman explained that the Housing Opportunity portion aims to change zoning to remove current barriers for development citywide, with the goal of adding more housing to every community, so that not one community is overburdened. He said there is a current housing shortage with a 1.4% vacancy rate in NYC and 0.88% in Queens. Due to this, he says the low supply is the reason why housing costs and homelessness are so high.

In the first portion of the plan, for low density areas, mixed use buildings with commercial on the ground floor, would be able to add another 10 to 20 feet to their buildings to add more housing units. The plan also encourages transit oriented development, allowing for more two to three story buildings to be built within a half mile of a subway or train station. It also encourages the use of Accessory Dwelling Units, giving homeowners to option to turn backyard cottages, garages and basements into apartments, but this may not apply to Rockaway specifically since it is a Zone 1 flood zone. In medium and high-density areas, they want to encourage development of more affordable housing through a Universal Affordability Program that would allow apartment buildings to be 20% larger, and would require more units to be “affordable.” In a citywide move, parking would be optional for all new housing developments, meaning developers would not have to include any parking on their properties. Other proposals would allow for the conversion of underused buildings like old office buildings to be used for housing. “We want a little more housing everywhere, so each neighborhood does it’s part and one neighborhood doesn’t feel intense pressure,” Wasserman said. For the full plan, see:

After Wasserman completed the presentation, he was hit with many questions from board members, often admitting that he didn’t have the answer. Many board members reminded him that Rockaway has already had its fair share of housing with recent development of affordable housing, with another 20,000 estimated units still to come. There was a lot of pushback to the plan, with several board members saying that they could not support it. Many pointed out that it made no sense for this to be a citywide proposal when places like Rockaway are so different from Manhattan. With so many wanting to have their say, Orr reminded the board that there would not be a vote on the matter that night, and that discussions would continue at another Housing and Land Use Committee meeting on Tuesday, May 21, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the St. John’s Clinical Learning Center (19-09 Plainview Ave. in Far Rockaway). The public is welcome to attend and speak on the issue. CB14 will also hear about this matter again at the June 11 meeting, where they will vote on the proposal.

Moving on to a presentation that required a vote, the Transportation Committee once again discussed the Queens Bus Network Redesign plan. At an April 29 meeting, a representative from Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson’s office shared two requests from the assemblyman. He asked that the Q52 be extended from its current end at Beach 54th Street, to Wavecrest Gardens on Seagirt Blvd., and that the Q22 be extended to JFK Airport via Central Ave and the Nassau Expressway. Chris Tedesco said their committee recommended to not support Anderson’s proposals, as in response to requesting that the Q52 be extended to Beach 49th Street, the MTA already expressed reluctance to expand the Q52 service since it would require installing new MetroCard infrastructure that wouldn’t be needed, since MetroCards are being phased out. Additionally, the A train already provides a way to get to JFK Airport and airport employees receive a massive discount on the AirTrain, so a bus there isn’t needed. There was a lot of discussion on the requests, with some saying why they wouldn’t support having expanded transportation options in general. As a result, a motion to not support Anderson’s proposals was divided. But with 17 agreeing not to support and 11 saying no to not supporting his requests, the motion carried, so a letter will not be written to support Anderson’s requests.

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