Tucked away on the west side of the small town of Broad Channel in the middle of Jamiaca Bay is a narrow, dead end, street that goes by the name of West 12th Road. Those of us who live there know that the nice part about living in a small town is that when you are not quite sure what is going on, someone else always does!
[Peter J. Mahon West 12th Road, Broad Channel]
Dolores OrrDolores Orr, current Chairperson of Community Board 14, sat down with The Wave to talk about her role on the Board, her background and current issues facing Rockaway and Broad Channel.
Q. Tell us about yourself.
A. I’ve lived in Rockaway Beach my entire life. I am third generation. I grew up two blocks from where my father grew up.
My grandparents moved to the Rockaways in the 1930’s. They were both police officers. My grandmother was a gold shield detective. My grandfather was a patrol officer, he was a beat cop.
My first job was at Rockaway Playland. I worked at the ice cream stand by the children’s carousel.
I was completely educated in Rockaway, right through Far Rockaway High School.
I had a career with Verizon. Now I have that second career with the Department of Education.
Q. Were you involved with community or civic affairs before joining Community Board 14?
A. Someone showed me something from The Wave around 1970 where I was the president of the junior auxiliary of the American Legion.
We were always raised with that sense of giving back, of community.
I was always a member of the Civic Association; I was president of the Dayton Beach Park co-op for about 10 years. And I was a music instructor for the St. Camillus marching band.
The thing that actually got me to the Community Board was when the first Arverne renewal project came up. As president of the co-op I had to think about what the impact of 10,000 new families would have on services, traffic.
Q. What committees do you currently serve on?
A. The way the structure works I am automatically a member of all the committees. If I had to pick one, I would say I am most involved with Land Use and Housing.
I don’t think people always realize the importance of planning and zoning. We’ve been working with the city on planning and development for years to look at what is best for the community. There’s a lot of things to look at when we’re discussing granting variances and zoning.
Q. What other organizations do you belong to?
A. I belong to the Rockaway Beach Civic Association and the Friends of Tribute Park.
Q. How long do you see yourself serving on the Community Board?
A. am on the Board 20 years. We serve at the pleasure of the Borough President. For the foreseeable future I see myself serving on the Board.
Every two years your term is up, and you have to submit a new application, a councilman needs to sign it and it has to be submitted to Borough President.
We work very hard at making sure an equal distribution of seats is allocated and all neighborhoods are represented fairly. So when we know someone has resigned or left the Board, we let the Borough President know that that person from that particular community is gone and there is a vacancy there, so that it is filled with someone from that community.
Q. What would you say is the most important issue facing Rockaway?
A. I would say protection from the tides.
And I don’t say the ocean, because we have had issues for many years with the bay…from the ocean and the bay. It’s been forever and ever. I definitely include Broad Channel in this.
And for me this is the moment. If there is ever going to be a moment, this is it for protection. And I say tide and not flooding, because flooding is like when there is a hurricane. The tide is ongoing. Protection is important from the bay and the ocean tides.
I live near the ocean; I see this every day.
Q. What do you see as the best thing about living in Rockaway?
A. The sense of community, the beauty of the natural resources and the history.
Q. What would you say is the biggest complaint?
A. On a day to day basis, day to day living post-Sandy, it goes back to thinking about flooding issues. Whether it’s from tides or storm sewer issues, it’s flooding that people have to deal with.
The bay, the ocean- it’s part of the reason we live here, the natural beauty.
But it’s also an issue.
Q. What advice or suggestions do you have for people who may not be on the Community Board but are interested in helping Rockaway?
A. I think to start by getting involved in your immediate community, especially in your civic association.
There are a lot of strong civic associations.
Know your area; get involved in what’s going on there. I know that by building strong, better, active communities will give us all a stronger Rockaway.
Just take that time to call 311 when you see something wrong.
We always encourage everyone to call the community board.
If everyone takes that time to help, to get involved where they are, we will have a stronger community, a stronger Rockaway.