Eye On Rockaway
Rockaway residents were recently given a chance to take part in the rebuilding process of Rockaway when the city’s Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR) hosted a workshop at PS 43 in Far Rockaway.
Some very good ideas flowed as attendees broke up into groups and brainstormed about public safety, strengthening the infrastructure, and promoting economy recovery. Unfortunately, many residents used the meeting as a source to vent the frustration of the many injustices Rockaway has suffered over the years. This caused many to go off topic— to things SIRR cannot deliver.
Yes, Rockaway has been treated as a distant stepchild of the city for way too long. But, railing against Mayor Bloomberg and his penchant for closing schools (many here in Rockaway), makes no sense if those who have no control over those things are not present. There were no Department of Education representatives there and it does not fall under SIRR’s mandate. Health care and the fact that there is only one hospital in Rockaway since the closing of Peninsula Hospital Center, also does not fall under SIRR’s jurisdiction. The PHC disaster is a state problem. Creating activities to get youth off the streets was also off target in the March 18th discussion.
What did hit the nail on the head were suggestions for better drainage and sewers (a problem before superstorm Sandy), increasing the number of jetties across Rockaway’s beaches, better roads (a problem for decades), and helping small businesses to reopen.
While the venting of problems that had no bearing on SIRR’s mandate took time away from important issues, the city representatives understood the frustration of residents. Of course, it is also understandable that locals are skeptical about whether their ideas will be incorporated into any recovery plan.
But, and this is a very big but, Bloomberg will be out of office at the end of the year. Considering the relationship he and Rockaway have had over the years that can only be considered a good thing, and that is putting it mildly. That and the fact that the storm threw Rockaway into the spotlight – locally and nationally – brings hope that the city will be more responsive to the area.
Those who live here are more united than ever. Before it was the east end against the west end. Now it is Rockaway against everybody else. Unity and keeping on topic are a must to get the so-called powers that be to not only listen, but hear.
Many at the SIRR meeting spoke about more communication to let residents know about meetings that may concern them. Besides checking The Wave, open a Twitter account and follow your elected representatives, official city sites, or type in Rockaway in the search box for the many Rockaway sites that post daily about issues relating to the peninsula.