Who Should Speak For Rockaway?
Rockaway faces many real problems and challenges as it moves into the new decade. Ask any resident who has been around for a while, and he or she will be able to tick them off without thinking much about it: transportation, infrastructure, schools, jobs, economic development, entertainment venues (especially for our kids) and housing. What you won’t hear from the old-timers is that we need more space to view birds or ride bikes. You probably won’t hear much about ferry or a green corridor. It’s all about meat and potato issues, those that have been around for decades and more. That is why it is time to buy those who have been around for a while into the decision-making process. The city attempted that by setting up community boards but then politicizing the selection process and taking away all of the board’s real power. What we need in Rockaway is something that we once had – at least for a short period of time. Twenty years ago, we had the All-Rockaway Planning Council, a group made up of the presidents from each of the myriad of community and civic organizations in Rockaway. The group had immediate legitimacy because all of its members had already been elected by their home communities to speak for that community. Many of the larger community groups in Rockaway joined the effort: Bayswater Civic, Frank Avenue Civic, Edgemere Civic, Wavecrest Gardens Community Association, Arverne Civic, Rockaway Park Homeowners, Belle Harbor Homeowners, Rockaway Beach Civic, Neponsit Homeowners. Only a few held out. The organization was held together by its leadership and a desire to help the entire community and it most often put aside petty community gripes and worked together. One of its real successes was the end of the Rockaway Landfill in Edgemere, once the most toxic landfill in the eastern United States. Unfortunately, its growing power disturbed the local politicians, who saw its leadership as a future political threat. When its leader left Rockaway, the organization began to fall apart. We need a group such as that, with people who really know Rockaway and what it needs. One of the local civics needs to step up and take the lead in resurrecting the All-Rockaway Planning Council. Rockaway is