2014-02-07 / Columnists

Who’s Who

Kelly Brooke, Community Board
By Katie McFadden

Kelley Brooke Kelley Brooke Tell Us About Yourself

I have lived in Rockaway for almost nine years, but I was the operator of Riis Park Golf Course and Brooklyn Golf Center for three years prior to that. So I feel like I have been a member of the community for a dozen years.

Currently I am the operator of Randall’s Island Golf & Sports Center in Manhattan and I am the Founder/CEO of a stand up paddle board manufacturing company called The H2O Generation. We build and distribute paddle-boards to stores throughout the country. This year we are expanding and opening our own stores in Southern California, Seattle, Illinois, The Hamptons and Florida.

Were you involved with community or civic affairs before joining the Community Board 14? Are you involved in any other community groups currently?

I started as a member of the Rotary Club 12 years ago. I am also a board member of the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce.

What committee, if any, are you on?

I sit on the Economic Development committee. As with all Community Board committees, we meet as needed. We just met to discuss the Court House. The most pressing issue that we face on the Economic Development Committee is Rockaway’s unemployment rate. We are the highest of all of the districts in NYC. Soon boardwalk construction will start and we are excited that the Parks Department will be requiring general contractors to give qualified Rockaway residents priority when hiring.

How long do you see yourself being a part of the community board?

I would like to stay on the community board as long as they will have me. There is so much potential in this community for waterfront activities, festivals, new businesses and new restaurants. I think we have a long way to go with regards to economic development. Ten years ago I was an advocate for developing businesses in Rockaway Beach and it is finally coming about. I am so proud of the pioneers that took a chance on Rockaway Beach and opened businesses there. We also have to thank the Parks Department and the new concessionaires along the boardwalk. I feel that the new concessions injected the area with a much needed dose of entertainment, food and beverages. Of course we also need to thank Arverne By The Sea for taking a chance on Rockaway. They took an area that was run down and dangerous and developed a beautiful beach front community. And now they are about ready to open the new YMCA and pool.

What do you think is the most important issue facing Rockaway?

Although I feel that our community bounced back quickly after the hurricane, it was mainly because neighbors helped neighbors. The Build it Back Program was developed with great intent and I thank them for what they have done, but there are many people who have not been able to return to their homes. They need help and they need it now.

What’s the best part of living in the area?

The single best part of living in Rockaway is my neighbors. I am from the Midwest. Most picture Iowa as being small and neighborly and do not think of New York City being that way. I truly love the people who live here. This community is filled with selfless, wonderful, giving, compassionate people. I witnessed such unbelievable acts of love, heroism and warmth after the Hurricane. I doubt there is anywhere else in the world like Rockaway. My second favorite thing is that I can walk down the street and surf every day.

What’s your biggest complaint?

My biggest complaint is that the restaurants in Rockaway don’t serve good wine. I’m kidding. My biggest complaint is that we, as a community, cannot figure out how to clean Beach 116th Street up enough to make it profitable for businesses to successfully operate there.

What advice do you have for people not on the community board but are interested in helping Rockaway?

I suggest signing up for your neighborhood civic organization. Every section of Rockaway has civic organizations. I would also suggest coming to Community Board meetings and speaking during the public speaking portion of the night. If you cannot come to meetings, get the ear of someone on the community board and ask them to help you with a problem. I know that it sometimes seems like the community board is not listening, but we are here to represent you and what YOU desire and need.

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