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Community boards must work only for the interests of locals

Kudos to Dr. Richard Lipsky, representing Willets Point United, on the letter he wrote about Community Board 7’s behind-closed-door antics (“CB 7 has much to answer for in it approval of Willets Point project,” Feb. 3).

Lipsky’s letter regarding the Willets Point debacle was déjà vu to me. The same tactics were used against the community and myself by CB 7’s chairman when we insisted CB 7 take a vote to keep Ft. Totten parkland and they refused.

The borough president at the time, ironically, was Claire Shulman. President Bill Clinton sold Ft. Totten to the city for $1. It was Shulman’s role to develop the 169 waterfront acres. She appointed developers, people who receive monies from her for their nonprofit agencies and hacks. Shulman also appointed Adrian Joyce to sit on the committee, represent the community and head the Ft. Totten Redevelopment Committee.

The people who were protesting the closed door meetings were told people appointed by Shulman were “representing the community.” Yet when we, the people who live near Ft. Totten, asked to sit in on the meetings, we were told by her counsel that a “vote was taken” and it was unanimous “not” to allow the community into the meetings.

We organized, protested and eventually went to CB 7 to testify. When I submitted my testimony to Gene Kelty, he immediately tore it up. There is usually one community officer at the CB 7 meetings, but I made the mistake of informing the office that I would testify that night. There were six uniformed officers from the local precinct, and as I was reading my testimony two officers came up and attempted to pull me away from the microphone.

This did not deter me at all, and in fact it made people join our plight and eventually the meetings were open and Ft. Totten became parkland. If we had not continued the pressure, St. John’s University would have built 300 dorms there, affecting our community with more traffic and less parking spots.

The letter written by Lipsky was a reminder of the tactics used by Shulman and her cohorts. These secret meetings and using underhanded tactics to prevent the community on speaking out against an issue is politics as usual. It is time for term limits on community boards or the eradication of all community boards. From my experience, many do not represent the community but developers and borough presidents or their members are aspiring politicians and use community boards for their résumés.

It is time for the FBI, city Department of Investigation and any other investigative organization to step in and take a good look at these done deals and anointed hacks.

Joyce Shepard

Bayside

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