RDRC Community Update
There have been reports that the project at 6200 Beach Channel Drive was dead in the water; well I want to let everyone know that that is not the case and set the record straight that the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center (Addabbo) and Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation (RDRC) continue to jointly develop the city-owned property located at 6200 Rev. Joseph H. May Drive (also known as 6200 Beach Channel Drive). Addabbo and RDRC are co-developing the health center in Phase I of the project and RDRC is developing the Pauline Rhodd-Cummings Educational Center as the second phase of the project. The health center will be the new home of the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center and the Pauline Rhodd-Cummings Educational Center will, for the first time, bring a permanent presence of higher education to the Rockaway peninsula.
The Addabbo/RDRC team is nearing closure on the acquisition of the property from New York City through the New York City Economic Development Corporation as well as beginning to utilize the public funds made available through the various elected officials. Ground breaking on the Addabbo Center is still scheduled to take place in the Spring of 2004 and occupancy by Addabbo should take place sometime in July 2005.
RDRC has completed more in depth research that has quantified the demand for education and training among Rockaways residents. Based on 2000 Census data only 16.33% of area residents 25 years or older have obtained a bachelor’s degree or better. This percentage is almost 10 percentage points below the county, city, and state averages for the same category. This reality underscores the need for opportunities to train and re-train adults for the work force given that more and more jobs require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in order to perform them well.
We know from our research that there is a clear connection between the educational attainment of the community and the ability to sustain economic development. A better educated community gives present and future Rockaway businesses a stronger pool of job applicants to hire from. Greater educational attainment and job skills training, generally, increases the household incomes in a community, which allows for greater sustainability of the retail sector on the peninsula. To this end the agency is structuring the Rhodd-Cummings Center’s offerings to address short-term and long-term educational needs. RDRC anticipates bringing together college level training along with shorter-term job skills training programs on this site.