2014-04-25 / Columnists

Who’s Who

Annette Lord-Cohen, Community Board 14
By Katie McFadden

Tell us about yourself.

I used to live on the other side of Queens in Jamaica and then I lived in Hempstead when I was married. I was drawn to Rockaway because of the ocean. It was great to be able to get an affordable apartment right on the ocean. I love living out here. I live in Bayswater and I have been living here since 1989.

I have a son who is married and I have two granddaughters. My parents live in Florida and they’re retired.

I’ve been on the Community Board for 10 years. I’m also a business consultant and I teach individuals how to start a home-based childcare business. It’s free to the community and is funded by Councilman Richards. It started when Sanders was councilman.

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

The childcare training class is more than enough. I used to be active on the St. John’s Executive Board, but I’m not active anymore. At that time, I was fighting with administration about making changes and I was a regular patient there. While at St. John’s, I organized the first children’s health fair. I was trying to get the board more involved in the community. The board started doing more health fairs with a mobile van going around, but the program I started was specific to children.

What committee of the Community Board, if any, are you on? What does your committee do? How often does it meet?

I’m on several committees. I’m on the housing/land use committee. This is where we have to vote on anything that has to do with housing or applications if someone wants to build something. We meet whenever it is deemed necessary. For instance, if there is a concern about building something in Arverne, we might request a housing committee meeting.

I’m also on the Parks and Public Safety committee. We talk about issues that have to do with parks like what is going on with the boardwalk. We meet once a month if possible, but it depends on if there are issues we need to discuss.

I’m also on the transportation committee. We discuss the roads and infrastructure. If any changes need to be done, we request to have the Department of Transportation come out here. We discuss the need for things like speed bumps and stuff like that.

Some of the committees converged since I’ve been on the board. I signed up for the housing committee and then land use combined with housing since they go hand in hand. There were a lot more committees and they merged them together to make things easier.

How long do you see yourself being a part of the Community Board?

I see myself on the community board for at least another 15 years. The development of Rockaway isn’t where it should be. While on the board, I’m able to advocate for things and I can’t put a time frame on that. My time on the board corresponds with the economic development of Rockaway.

Do you think there should be term limits for community board members?

No. I think having term limits doesn’t give members enough time to feel themselves around. You need to understand how the board works. It takes time to realize what you need to do to get things moving. You want to know that when you leave, the programs that you voted on are going to get done and you want to vote on issues that are for the better good of the entire community. What do you think is the most important issue facing Rockaway?

Economic growth. Right now the biggest challenge is that we can’t get franchise stores to come here without pulling teeth. The strip mall isn’t a strip mall. We don’t have any big time franchise stores. With beachfront property here, I don’t understand why. Rockaway is like a diamond. It doesn’t matter what your socioeconomic status is, everyone has access to the beach here. I’ve been to other beachfront properties and you can’t afford to go out there. Rockaway needs an economic boost. We’re already isolated. Why do we want to be more isolated? I would like Rockaway to be restored to its prominence.

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

The beauty of the landscape. It is so beautiful to sit on the boardwalk and watch the sunset or watch the full moon rise off the ocean. It’s magnificent.

What’s your biggest complaint?

Having to fight to get basic improvements for quality of life. There’s always a struggle just to get basic things to come out here. It’s difficult to keep the ferry out here which is much needed. We have to fight and pull and do everything else to keep it or think about expanding it.

What advice do you have for people who are interested in getting involved in Rockaway?

Don’t be afraid to come out of your box and visit meetings. We need to be in tune with the needs of the community and we can’t do that unless you come out. You have to come out and see what goes on. You can’t be involved if you’re not really involved, because how are you going to fight for things when you don’t know what the issues are? In order to know the issues, you have to be a part of the day to day community.

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