2011-07-01 / Letters

Embarrassed By Community Board

Dear Editor,

Last week I was embarrassed by the behavior of the community board before a presentation given by DOT. After being grilled by the board for two hours CB14 board members began rudely cackling and calling out jokes that took attention away from the matter at hand.

DOT engineers had worked since 2007 on this $1.5 million project to improve the street crossings and pedestrian walkways around Goldie Maple Academy and NYCHA Ocean Bay to make the street safer for schoolchildren. However, jokes about bike lanes, and other backhanded comments from the CB14 members themselves took precedent and as a result ended in us losing the Rockaway DOT project all together. I can only hope that the Rockaway community was well represented in this decision. Are the 500 families whose children attend Goldie Maple now that much safer with this decision? The next time a child is hit by a car at Beach 54 Street and Beach Channel Drive intersection I hope someone will remember how funny it was to be making such a mockery of the situation.

Afterwards I emailed the district manager in an attempt to ask for the CB 14 to go back to DOT to ask for changes to the proposal in hopes of not losing this project altogether. Since there was so much joking at the meeting about bikes and other topics I suggested that the transportation committee consider adding people who use alternative forms of transportation including biking and walking to this committee so CB14 was clearly representing the best interests of the community.

I am not an avid biker and am afraid to bike on our streets but this is just one of the many avenues the city is trying to find to reduce carbon emissions, improve health and get more people traveling through our city faster. The Mayor of NY has the difficult job of finding a way to keep the city from coming to a standstill in gridlock each day. Transportation may be the single most serious issue in our nation. We have no high speed trains, a small percentage of bikers, dangerous pedestrian walkways, poor subway transit and buses which all make our businesses slower, less efficient and less competitive than other nations. The next time you find yourself stuck on the freeway waiting in traffic ask yourself how is this going to get better?

Other cities throughout the world are moving at breakneck speed getting things moving through innovative new ideas like bike shares, amphibious buses and hydrafoil. It’s really a wonder how the average American sees our situation as someone else’s problem, when it is clearly something we have created ourselves. We are too comfortable to find other ways but we may someday find ourselves as a Third World nation sooner than we think.

Last week Columbia University presented a study about statistics of the Rockaway peninsula. One of the most shocking was the fact that Rockaway residents have a high rate of obesity and the health of Rockaway residents was one of the lowest in our nation. This was coupled by the fact that so many local residents are dependent on cars for travel over less than a single mile distance of travel.

WE NEED TO MAKE A CHANGE! People need to get out, get active and start to see this spectacular island we call Rockaway! Anyone who thinks it’s safe to keep our kids indoors, with nothing but a toy or computer should think of the dangers our own Congressman created for himself and our children.

JEANNE DUPONT

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