City Should Support Service of Existing Board Members

Councilmember Barry Grodenchik represents Queens District 23. Photo courtesy of Barry Grodenchik.

Councilmember Barry Grodenchik represents Queens District 23. Photo courtesy of Barry Grodenchik.

By Barry Grodenchik

Special to the Eagle

Earlier this month, the Charter Revision Commission passed a resolution to propose establishing term limits for individual members of community boards who currently serve two-year terms without limit.

This resolution is part of a series of reforms that will be on the ballot for voters to consider in November. The proposed term limit change would take full effect in April of 2020 and would restrict members to four consecutive two-year term limits.

While I applaud the commission’s efforts to help make boards more reflective of the communities that they represent, restricting residents’ ability to serve their neighborhoods would discourage people who are willing to volunteer their time and remove board members who have valuable institutional and communal memory, thereby creating a serious knowledge gap on the boards.

Community board members who have served for many terms bring a wealth of expertise and experience to the advisory process. If they wish to continue serving their communities, the city should support their public service efforts rather than limit them.

Seasoned community board members have witnessed administration changes and have the institutional knowledge needed to follow up on key neighborhood issues. As appointed advisors to city government, community board members need that knowledge in order to guide their recommendations on important land use, zoning, and budgetary matters.

I have no doubt that incoming members will bring new sets of skills and expertise, but asking well-intentioned and experienced residents to discontinue their service would create an outflow of valuable insight and knowledge.

Some community boards around the city already have a difficult time filling open positions on their boards; implementing term limits would likely exacerbate that situation.

Although I support the commission’s efforts to require more resources to be available to community boards, I do not support a term limit on members’ ability to serve. I urge the voters to reject this proposal.

Councilmember Barry Grodenchik represents Queens District 23.