Every living organism on earth has built into its DNA a resiliency gene. When it comes to the people living on the Rockaway Peninsula and Broad Channel, that resiliency gene is very strong. There are signs of progress all around us. Folks are rebuilding their homes, stores are reopening, religious institutions are repairing their facilities, and schools are back on track providing educational services. These are all positive signs but we all know we still have a long way to go. The number one priority is protection for our community. This means effective storm barriers on the beach and bay for Rockaway and creative designs to protect Broad Channel. The fear of looming price increases of flood insurance in the future for home owners needs to be addressed.
I attended the Mayor’s press conference last Thursday held at Beach 97th Street on the boardwalk. The mayor spoke of the sand replenishment that just started. Veronica White, NYC Parks Commissioner also spoke. Both were very positive as to the future of the Rockaways. I would like to believe them but can’t help but think that the devil is in the details. We have seen that over the last nine months. Details about the short term efforts vs. long term plans have been confusing at best. The details we were told about in January regarding the boardwalk islands and the new beach wall between Beach 126th Street and Beach 149th Street changed dramatically as time went by. “As problems arose, our voices fell on deaf ears at the Department of Parks.”
Now when I listened to Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner White I did not doubt for a moment their sincerity and desire to make things right. They have spent their days visiting Hurricane Sandy ravaged communities across all five boroughs. Moving forward, they need to listen more to the communities, collaborate with them when planning, share with them information on what contracts have been issued, making certain the specs of each contract are shared with the community, making certain contractors are linked with the communities and are monitored effectively so we end up with work being done effective and efficiently. If the city partners more closely with communities it will lead to a win-win situation for all.