BY NATALIA KOZIKOWSKA
Community Board chairs are furious with the City’s recent decision to eliminate their parking placards – a pass that allows them to park anywhere for free for three hours.
The new rule, which will take effect on Feb. 1, will revoke passes for all 59 New York chairs. It will not affect Community Board district managers, who are employed by the City.
“In terms of whoever made the decision, it fails to recognize that community board chairs are serving the City without pay,” said CB 10 Chair Betty Braton. “Often, we have to leave our own jobs to attend meetings and therefore time and convenience is an issue.”
Braton, like many others, expressed concern that the new rule will make it difficult for chairs to attend important meetings, especially in the Borough of Queens, where using public transportation may be difficult or inconvenient.
“In terms of Queens, many times the locations we have to get to are not available to us or easily accessible to us by public transportation,” she said. “It will have some impact. There are meeting that I may want to be at, that I may not be able to attend. Community Board chair people have to be available through their districts. Many of those are meetings that we have to be at to keep ourselves informed.”
The district manager of CB 11, Susan Seinfeld, who spoke on behalf of Chairman Jerry Iannece, shared similar sentiments as Braton and revealed that Iannece has written a letter to the City of New York to express his feelings.
“He is most certainly unhappy with this,” Seinfeld said. “Jerry has written a letter to the Community Affairs Unit Commissioner, saying basically that they are volunteers for the City and they go to various meetings on their own time. Out here, in Queens particularly, it could take two or three buses to get somewhere using public transportation. His point was that they are volunteering their time for the betterment of the community and without a pass, it hinders their ability to go to a meeting.”
Seinfeld also noted that eliminating the parking perk will result in community board chairs incurring unfair fees.
“The out of pocket cost could run up if they have to pay for parking, which considering they volunteer their time, it’s not fair,” she said. “Certainly there are places in the City where parking permits are problem or they are not necessary because there is easy access but when you are talking about other places like that in Queens, and parts of Brooklyn, chairs are upset.”
Other community board chairs, like Joseph Hennessy of CB 6, said they are outraged that the City only eliminated the parking perk for chairs that are volunteers and not district managers who are employed by the City.
“The most ridiculous thing is they gave it to the district managers, who are City employees. If they were going to take it away from the chairs, they should have taken in away from the DMs [district managers] because their time is on City time,” Hennessy said. “My time is on my personal time. Realistically, a lot of district managers have meetings in their office and if they have to travel, they can travel on City time.”
Hennessy also expressed concern that the new rule will take time away from his paying job, which graciously allows him to leave to important meetings during normal work hours.
“I think it’s a cheap thing to do to volunteers who have been volunteering for a number of years,” he said. “It’s also a situation where I personally have to leave my job to go to a meeting during the day and the time consumed using public transportation – I can’t afford to do that. If I can’t drive to a meeting and park and get back to my job at a reasonable time, I’ll be abusing the time my company is giving me.”
The City of New York has not returned calls as of press time.
Reach Reporter Natalia Kozikowska at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, or at email@example.com.