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College Pt. Civic head passes reins to Rocco

Andrew Rocco (c.) sits with other officers just before becoming the new president of the College Point Civic Association, a position previously held by Joe Femenia (second from l.). Photo by Joe Anuta
TimesLedger Newspapers

The College Point Civic Association recently swore in its new president, Andrew Rocco, and the neighborhood’s newest big cheese is not short on plans to improve the area.

Rocco is a high school teacher and had served as the civic’s Education Committee chairman for several years before he was sworn in by City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) at a meeting in late February.

Rocco’s main gripe is nothing new: He is sick of College Point getting the short end of the stick.

“I think the major frustration is the disconnect between what happens here on our streets and how decisions are made by the city,” he said. “I feel like the decisions are made in downtown Manhattan by some guy in a cubicle, but the effects in an actual neighborhood are completely different.”

Rocco, like the president before him, Joe Femenia, said College Point unduly bears the brunt of large development projects that do not benefit the neighborhood.

The area is home to the Tallman Island Waste Water Treatment Plant and will soon be home to a new police academy building currently under construction.

The city also wants to reopen a waste transfer station in the neighborhood, which would bring garbage from around the borough within the confines of the neighborhood to be shipped out by barge.

That does not count private developments, such as the shopping center on 20th Avenue and a large hotel currently going up along the same road near 127th Street on a site that the community thought would make a good middle school.

“We are pumping in millions into the city budget,” he said, referring to the many single-family homes that pay New York City property taxes. “But small neighborhoods like ours don’t see any of that.”

But Rocco remains positive.

He wants to get the neighborhood back on the city’s radar by mobilizing the vote for the upcoming elections this year and next.

If the civic had help turning out a large voting block, he said politicians would recognize that College Point can be a force that should not be ignored.

Part of that process should include involving different ethnic groups, like the large Asian and Latino contingents that live in the neighborhood.

“I want to be more inclusive. I really want to reach out so they can have a voice,” he said. “Everybody wants good schools for their kids. Everybody wants to feel safe and have a sense of community.”

Rocco also suggested several improvements that he would like made to the area.

He thinks the civic should help advocate for environmental improvements to MacNeil Park and wetlands along the coast of College Point, since the city Department of Environmental Protection is performing construction work in the neighborhood but plans to offset the inconvenience by giving amenities to Douglaston instead.

In addition, Rocco still wants to see a middle school constructed in the neighborhood.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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