Rockaway Needs A Community College
Ever since the Neponsit Home was closed in the middle of the night by Mayor Rudy Guliani, there has been a discussion on what to do with the facility. The mandate for the property, now owned by the city, dictates that it be used either for a health care facility or a park. It is clear that it never again will be a health facility and that no governmental unit wants a park adjacent to the massive Riis Park complex. Given those parameters, what to do? The Neponsit and community has made its wishes clear at a community meeting last year. The Neponsit property owners want market rate homes consistent with what already exists in Neponsit. Some local politicians, such as Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer and Democratic District Leader Lew Simon, have registered the public support for that aim. We should ask, however, what the community needs. We believe the answer to that question lies in the area of education. We need a community college that will train our youth in 21st century careers in computer technology, energy, environmental sciences, health care and education. Perhaps the city could use some of the money from President Obama's stimulus plan outside of Manhattan and build an annex of Queensborough Community College on that site. It is time, however, for everybody in Rockaway to consider what is needed by the entire community. To our mind, there are two viable outcomes for the question of what to do with the abandoned property - turn it into a community college, or turn it over to the National Park Service and make it part of the Riis Park unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area. Either of those outcomes would serve the needs of the entire Rockaway community.