McKay Out As Chairman, CB 12 Scrutinizes OEM Plans

BY TRONE DOWD

In a sudden turn of events, Rev. Edward McKay, who was expected to replace Councilwoman Adrienne Adams’ position as chairman of Community Board 12, will not take up the position for the new year.

“Because of her leave, I took the position of interim chairperson,” McKay said. “When I woke up this afternoon, I found that there was a slight change in the election procedure.”

In September, shortly following Adams’ victory in the Democratic primary election, it was announced that McKay would become the interim chairman and eventual permanent chairman of CB 12 should the City Council hopeful win the general election. The decision was met with universal community approval upon the announcement.

“Originally, I was anticipating to put my name in as chairman of Community Board 12, but due to some things that have happened, I will not be taking the role,” McKay said.

A source in the community told the PRESS of Southeast Queens that attendance may have played a part in the committee’s decision.

McKay added that he was looking forward to leading the board, and was disappointed to find out that he was no longer eligible.

“I’m not too happy about it,” he admitted. “But I’ll have to go along with what the nominating committee has said. The nominating committee will be reaching out to all [community board members] who are eligible to run for chairperson.”

McKay has been a resident of Southeast Queens for more than 45 years. He has previously served as chairman of CB 12’s education committee as well as third and second vice chairman of the board. Up until his brief promotion to interim chairman earlier this month, McKay served as first vice chairman.

“I take pride in my community and I take pride in what I do,” he said. “My objective is to better this community. My intention still is to unite this community in one accord.”

Hurricane safety methods were also discussed during the meeting. Transportation committee chairwoman Michele Keller said that she and fellow committee members met with the city’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to discuss Southeast Queens evacuation maps. Keller gave community members a rundown of what to expect in case of an emergency.

“Mr. [Mosi] London explained to us that prior to Hurricane Sandy, there were 19 signed routes citywide,” she said. “These signs were implemented as part of the 2007 coastal storm plan. They were intended to direct drivers towards specific evacuation centers with available parking. But since then, they have determined the disadvantages of the signage.”

According to Keller, OEM said that the 2007 plan was a contingency plan best suited for southern states. When scrutinized, the office noticed that such a plan does not help urban areas such as New York City with the same kind of efficiency, especially when it comes to managing roadways.

“Existing routes may put people in danger,” Keller said. “Some routes are likely to flood as a storm makes landfall.”

Keller said that her committee was disappointed to find out that the archaic system had been in place for so long.

Many of the suggestions that OEM made in place of fixing its old system involved resident pre-planning in case of emergencies. She advised that residents warn friends and loved ones who are not tech savvy to check out this information online.

“A lot of this didn’t make any sense to me,” Keller said, admitting that the meeting unnerved her. “We asked them about updated signs for our community because we need to know the details of where to go. We need something that they can see on a regular basis, so they know ahead of time where to go. But they feel that we don’t incur that much damage. We had to remind them about Sandy and the kind of damage that did to our community.”

OED agreed to place signage directing residents towards shelters in Rosedale and Far Rockaway.

“Basically, they’re telling us to pre-plan,” she said. “And if all else fails and you can’t get out like we’ve seen with Katrina and the other areas around the country that have been hit, then they’ll come in. In other words, we’re on our own. So, we have to work together.”

Reach reporter Trone Dowd via email at tdowd@queenspress.com or by phone at (718) 357-7400, ext. 123.

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