June 8, 2016 By Christian Murray
Community Board 2 elected a new chairperson last week after Pat O’Brien announced last month that he was stepping down from the top job.
The new chair is Denise Keehan-Smith, a third generation Woodsider, who has served on the board for four years. She was elected to the executive board in December 2014, as secretary, and became the chair of the Transportation Committee in April 2015.
Keehan-Smith ran unopposed for the chair position last week. The chairperson is not paid, nor are the board members.
“I joined the board in 2012 because I have an interest in how the community grows and expands,” Smith said in an interview, adding that her grandparents moved to Woodside in 1937. “I also plan to be here another 20-plus years.”
Keehan-Smith took on the role of Transportation Committee chair as the controversy was starting to heat up concerning the addition of bicycle lanes and safety features to Queens Boulevard.
She said she spent a great deal of time researching the matter since it represented a significant change for Queens Boulevard. She recommended the approval of the bicycle lanes since cyclists at that time lacked a safe place to ride.
Keehan-Smith has sat on the City Services & Public Safety Committee while being on the board, a body that oversees liquor licenses.
She said that she has faith in other committee heads such as Lisa Deller, of Land Use, to get her up to speed on relevant issues.
Keehan-Smith takes the role from O’Brien who had the position for about 16 months before determining that he did not have the time given his legal practice and family.
O’Brien will remain on the board and is expected to keep his position as chair of the City Services and Public Safety Committee.
“It has been great working with you,” he told the board last week, but “I’m not dead yet, I’m not leaving the board.”
Keehan-Smith, who is a global account manager for an international travel/technology company, anticipates having the position for at least three years if she is reelected by the board.
She said that the biggest problem facing the community right now is the rapid pace of expansion without the required infrastructure to keep up with it. She pointed to issues with the 7 train.