BY DANIEL OFFNER
Queens Community Board leaders are not fans of imposing term-limits on its members.
Last year, City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) and Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) proposed legislation to place term limits on all Community Board appointees, capping service at six consecutive two-year terms – a maximum of 12 years.
“I saw the impact that term-limits had on communities and particularly communities that were underrepresented,” Dromm told the Queens Tribune last December. “We need to have new blood and new people sharing their ideas. Communities change and so I think Community Boards should change.”
On April 30, the City Council’s Government Operations Committee held a public hearing to discuss amending the City Charter to impose term-limits for community board members appointed to a first-term beginning April 1, 2016.
There are 59 Community Boards – 14 in Queens – spread out across all five Boroughs, each comprised of volunteer members who offer advisory decisions on development and zoning issues to how City funds should be spent in their district.
Christine Haider, chairwoman of Community Board 11, which covers Auburndale, Bayside, Douglaston, East Flushing, Little Neck, Oakland Gardens and Hollis Hills, said she is against term limits because there are some who have served more than 30 years and provide expertise that is crucial to the Board.
“I’m against term limits,” Haider said. “If you serve two terms of three-years, that’s six years and then you’re gone. And that experience that you learned goes with it.”
Marilyn Bitterman, district manager of Community Board 7, which covers Bay Terrace, Flushing, Whitestone, Malba, College Point, Willets Point, Queensboro Hill and Beechhurst, said CB7 has also come out against the proposed term limits.
“There is a natural progression in the rotation of board members,” Bitterman said.
Unlike their elected counterparts, community board members are appointed and subject to review every two years by the Borough President, who chooses who to reappoint. According to Michael Scholl, a spokesperson for Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, the administration “continues to be opposed to term limits for Community Board members.”
Vincent Arcuri, Jr., chairman of Community Board 5, which covers Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village, and Maspeth, said that there is no need for the City to establish term limits, especially for volunteers who are willing to give their time.
“If you have someone who is knowledgeable and is working hard,” Arcuri said, “why would you want them bounced? And where do you find qualified replacements with that experience and knowledge of the communities?”
Following the April 30 public hearing, the City Council Committee on Governmental Operations voted to lay over the legislation to a future date.
Reach Daniel Offner at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @DanielOffner.