1999-12-18 / Editorial/Opinion

Keep Communicating

Often appearance is everything. When something looks like it stinks, people suspect it of stinking. And when something looks good, people assume it is good. That might not be the way it truly is, but just by giving the appearance, it conveys a message. Community Board 14 fell into this "appearance zone" with two recent issues--removal of the bus stop in front of the Seaside Library and the support of a 122-unit building at Wavecrest Gardens.

Community boards have a purpose. Some people share the theory that community boards have outlived their usefulness. Maybe community boards are not as powerful as in the past, but this theory totally rejects the fact that community boards still allow each of us to participate in government. It gives each of us a voice. Maybe that voice is not as strong as before, but that is the present challenge of the community board--how to be influential in a time where limits have been placed on them.

That leads us into the bus stop and Wavecrest issues. Before the eyes of many Rockaway Park residents, the bust stop on Rockaway Beach boulevard between Beach 116-117 streets was eliminated. No notice. No alternative plans. People just were standing around waiting for a bus. Even though there was a push to remove the stop, the issue was not re-addressed publicly before the elimination. By communicating the community board would have made the transition smoother. Once the removal occurred, the "appearance zone" kicked in. Pictures of old ladies waiting for a bus that would never come. Calls that the community board only listens to a few people. Maybe not true, but the appearance was there.

Now on to Wavecrest. Once again, there was an appearance. Wavecrest went to the community board as a courtesy, not for approval. Wavecrest did not need approval for the additional 122-unit housing. The problem is the lack of communication from both Wavecrest and Community Board 14 on this project. It is easy to believe "secret letters" were written behind people's backs to hide the truth, but chances are the letter is just procedure. The problem is by not communicating it created a bad appearance.

Community Board 14 is guilty of one thing with both of these issues. That is lack of communication with the public. Community board meetings, like any other community event, are decently attended. Some months there are more people than others. But, these are not the masses of people in the community. Sometimes it is hard to remember that most people aren't involved in community or civic associations. They are busy with their lives--work, school, kids, etc. So, the community board has a responsibility to reach out to the entire community. Will it make more people aware--probably just a handful more. But, the community board did their job.

The Wave would be one resource to reach the people and a partnership between Community Board 14 and the local newspaper only serves residents of the community better.

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