2002-11-30 / Letters

Very Much Alive

Very Much Alive

Dear Editor;

I am writing this in response to the Saturday November 23 article in the Wave regarding the Rockaway Education and Health Center Project located at 6200 Beach Channel Drive. I feel it is necessary to respond to the conclusions drawn and clarify certain statements made in the article.

One of the first points I would like to clarify is that the project continues to move forward and has in fact advanced very quickly over the past year. A new home for the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center and an educational/vocational training center will be built on that site using the funds than have been generously donated by our elected officials and private supporters. None of the public funds that had been committed prior to the September 11 attacks, and the passing of late -Assemblywoman Rhodd-Cummings has been lost and in fact subsequent federal funds have been received. The project team under RDRC's and Addabbo's leadership is currently reviewing draft funding agreements prepared by the legal staff of the contributing agencies for over $5 million in public funds.

The RDRC/Addabbo Team is near the end of the negotiation and business terms process required by statute to acquire city property. A price has been settled on and the lead city agency is working closely with RDRC staff and project consultants to finalize these efforts. A draft of the contract of sale is currently being produced by the NYC Economic Development Corporation's legal staff.

I would also like to correct that the institution of higher learning that has provided RDRC with a written commitment to participate in the project is the College of Aeronautics (COA) and not the Academy of Aeronautics as stated in the November 23, 2002 article. The COA, along with York College, has been with us from the very beginning and continues to be committed to us as evidenced by their cooperation with the design process in giving information to our architects on how they would like their space configured. COA staff continues to participate in our project meetings and will continue to do so until completion.

While it is true that York College is developing an aeronautical program it was never the intention of the school to offer those program offerings at the 6200 Beach Channel Drive site. York's proposed curricular offerings have always been to provide liberal arts classes, continuing education, and pre-college skills courses. It was never the intention of RDRC to secure services of the College of Aeronautics and then redundantly bring to the peninsula York's aeronautics program. Despite the delays due to a change in administration at York College, the City University of New York and York are still a part of this process and have commissioned the preparation of an educational demand analysis, which is being conducted to quantify the demand for their educational offerings. York, RDRC and the educational consultant would not embark on this endeavor if there were not a commitment to establishing a presence for York on the peninsula.

The loss of our beloved Assemblywoman and Executive Director Neil Levin of the Port Authority have been a major loss felt not only to this project, but in the entire community and throughout the service area of the Port Authority. Fortunately for the Rockaways the Assemblywoman Michele Titus has literally picked up where Pauline left off. She will champion the cause of bringing much needed higher education and vocational training to the Rockaways and has already joined the team of public stakeholders who are integral to this process. Ms. Titus requested very early after the special election to be brought up to speed by RDRC. She and her staff have rolled up their sleeves and are assisting RDRC in drawing down state funds committed by her predecessor.

Finally, this project is not doomed, far from it is alive and well and will accomplish what it has set out to do from the very beginning: create a state-of-the-art home for the Addabbo Center and bring direly need training and education to the Rockaways.


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