A Big Task Ahead
Most of the time the start-up of another community organization in Rockaway is met with suspicion. What do they plan to do that's different than other organizations? What's the motive?
The formation of the Rockaway Task Force, which met this week and will have its first official meeting in late February, is the idea of D. Brian Heffernan. To be clear from the beginning, the task force is not another civic association, rather a coalition of locally elected officials and community leaders. Actually, the nearly two-hour meeting was refreshing. Structured more like a "brainstorming" session and not like a civic meeting, those who attended were able to get a clear idea of the task force's objectives and voice their opinions. Unlike the top-down approach of many civic groups, the task force participants sat around a long table, exchanging ideas and suggestions. There were disagreements, but it was handled in a professional and respectable manner.
Heffernan's objective of getting people together with elected officials is to start addressing those issues in Rockaway that are difficult for one organization or individual to address. Specifically, the task force is focused on revitalizing the business districts in Rockaway, from researching various government grants to contacting owners of commercial properties in Rockaway. Members of the task force also plan to meet with leaders in other areas of the city that have been successful in revitalizing their business districts.
Obviously the start of any new group will have its naysayers. Some will say its been done before. That might be true, but as we can see, we are still in the same position as we were five years ago. If there are people willing to give it a try again, if they're ambitious and ready to take on the task, then let them. It only helps the community.
The task force plans to reach out to civic associations to discuss participating in the first meeting in February. Planned for that meeting is Joyce Coward of the New York City Department of Business Services, who will assist the task force in planning. Coward is familiar with Rockaway, as she has worked with the Rockaway Park Business Development Association in the past. Hopefully with the city's assistance, some clear goals can be set for the task force.
Congressman Weiner, Councilman Stabile and Assemblywoman Pheffer all sent representatives to the "brainstorming" session of the task force and seemed to be willing to work together. If the civic leaders of various associations, even ones that have not worked well together in the past, are willing and ready to follow the lead of our elected officials, then this task force can really gain momentum. It's as simple as leaving the egos at the door and doing what's right for Rockaway.
This group has a big task ahead of them. Instead of the typical "It can't be done," lets roll up our sleeves and get it done!