April 8, 2015 By Christian Murray
To its many detractors, Community Board 2 was viewed as lacking transparency and a place where younger people felt disenfranchised.
However, in recent times that perception has been changing as newer, younger and more diverse members have joined the board and a bigger push has been made to notify the public of meetings and decisions.
Eight new members were brought on to the 50-person board last week taking over spots that were previously held by long-serving members and those who displayed poor attendance records.
Joe Conley, who had stepped down as chairman in December, is no longer on the board at all. Meanwhile, Gertrude McDonald, a 98-year-old who had served on the board for more than 40 years, has also departed.
“Tonight is the first evening in 30 years that former chairman Joe Conley is not a member of Community Board 2,” said Barry Grodenchik, director of Community Boards for the Queens Borough president, at last Thursday’s monthly board meeting. Conley received a great deal of applause.
Grodenchik then went on to announce the eight new members.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who oversaw the appointment of the new members, said Monday that his goal since he took office has been to have a board that reflects the people who work and live here.
“The board reflects that mix a lot more than it did five years ago,” Van Bramer said, referring to when he took office.
He said the new appointees range in age and live throughout the district. Furthermore, the group represents a number of ethnicities and people with diverse occupations.
Some of the new board members include: Czarinna Andres, owner of Bing’s Hallmark in Sunnyside; Claudia Chan, who works at LaGuardia community college in Government Relations; Ben Guttmann, with the tech-company Digital Natives; Beth Sexton, a Sunnyside resident who works at the New York City Department of Environmental Conservation; Mary Torres, a Long Island City resident who works for the real estate firm Modern Spaces; and Lakshmi Reddy, a Long Island City business woman.
Pat O’Brien, who took over as chairman in December, urged members Thursday—both old and new– to get more involved. He said that many people need to participate more actively in the committee work—where members get to review items such as land use applications, traffic improvements and liquor license applications.
“You came to the board to add value,” O’Brien told members, who described attendance at the monthly meeting as “C-“.
O’Brien has been working on getting a more-advanced community board website since he took office. He said that the board is about two weeks away from going live with its updated site. He said the executive board has a working version but it is still being reviewed before it is rolled out.
“Any document that is public, we aim to put it out there,” O’Brien said in Februrary. “I want people to know the facts so we can have a more informed discussion.”
Young recruits join old guard on Community Board 2
New CB2 Chair to roll out updated website, will provide greater access to public documents
Op Ed: Is Community Board 2 transparent?
OF COURSE they appoint someone from a real estate company. What’s to stop them from turning everything into a condo now? GREEEEDDDDDDDD
So how soon before all the life time residents get pushed out in favor of the “new guard”? I’ve been here for over 40 years and have seen so many changes and not all of them good. Mom & Pop shops have gone the way of the dinosaur in favor of overpriced high rises. My kids who were born and raised here can’t even rent here let alone try and buy a home. The “elite” and the poor immigrant will be all that’s living here in 5 years time. Change is NOT always a good thing! The soul of this neighborhood is being destroyed and Van B and his cronies are a big part of that!
I understand what you mean about rent and home prices. I think it’s important to ensure the affordability of some apartments and I hope out local politicians don’t enable development to just take and take and walk all over this neighborhood ripping things down and putting unattainable condos up. They need to give us something in return for the inconvenience of drastic changes and that means, some affordable rentals. This applies to all NYC neighborhoods, not just LIC. True NYers need to remain here to keep the “soul” of NY alive. We can’t keep pushing everyone out of this city every time a developer wants to make more money or the bubble will eventually burst.
But at the same time, things do change and there are newer people here are also starting their lives (maybe in 40 years, they’ll be you). They need to be represented by their board too. Indefinite terms are never a good thing. Nobody should have “the upper hand”. Don’t rush to judgment. Some of the new people on the board are also be eager to save “Mom & Pop” shops and put rules in place so that small independent businesses can afford to rent commercial space here.
you should be ashamed of yourself that kids you raised who cannot afford to live here!
Really, get over yourself. Neighborhoods change, and howling about it isn’t going to do anything. Letting an old-guard of folks who basically want to yell “get off my lawn” at any change that isn’t exactly the way things used to be in the Good Old Days(TM) is both a recipe for stagnation and unfair to the new residents who – face it – are the future of the neighborhood. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but it is the way things are and you would do well to make peace with it.