Letter to the Editor: Opposing Term Limits for CB Members

Judge George M. Heymann (retired)

Special to the Eagle

As a young attorney with a desire to serve my community, I became a member of CB8 in 1976, at age 27, representing Fresh Meadows, where I resided at the time. When I subsequently moved back to my childhood neighborhood in Hollis Hills, I reapplied for an appointment to CB11. It was my honor and privilege to serve a combined fifteen (15) consecutive years until I resigned upon my appointment as a judge.

Without getting into a discussion on the merits of term limits for elected officials, who receive a salary from the government, it must be emphasized the members who serve on the community boards do so voluntarily and devote a great deal of time and energy for the betterment of their respective communities.

Although the public meetings only occur on a monthly basis, the real work is done by the many committees that meet regularly to review the issues and prepare reports for such public forums and hearings.

As a lifelong resident of Eastern Queens, I had the good fortune to grow up surrounded by parks such as Alley Pond and Cunningham. I learned to ice skate on Potamagetan Pond along the Grand Central Service Road in Hollis Hills, opposite 218 Street. These parks are our treasures and at one time I knew every square inch of them. When I became Chair of the CB11 Parks Committee it was the highlight of my tenure.

Each term is only for two years with no guarantee for reappointment. Most members are reappointed and some are not at the discretion of the Borough President, upon the recommendations of the Council Members. Some individuals leave voluntarily for reasons of their own. In general, members who serve do so out of a desire to maintain the safety and integrity of their neighborhoods. Their time is valuable and could just as easily be spent at home with their families or working on other more profitable ventures.

Learning the ins and outs of the many issues that arise, especially in the area of zoning laws, does not happen overnight. Thus, having seasoned members who understand these intricacies and maintain an institutional and historical perspective, is necessary when new members are appointed in order to teach them, so that in the future they, in turn, can teach others.

To arbitrarily limit one’s voluntary service, without cause, is simply to make changes for the sake of change. In my opinion, it would defeat the whole purpose of why the community boards were created in the first place.

Judge George M. Heymann (retired)

Hollis Hills, NY