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Queens Chronicle

Let there be peace at Community Board 9

Battling chairman, district manager say they’ve put aside their differences

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Posted: Thursday, February 13, 2014 2:00 am | Updated: 11:22 am, Thu Feb 20, 2014.

Community Board 9’s leadership is letting bygones be bygones.

Chairman Jim Coccovillo and District Manager Mary Ann Carey both offered olive branches to each other at Tuesday night’s meeting after months of quarreling that often led the board’s monthly meetings to descend into uncontrolled chaos.

The feud, which has been ongoing since Coccovillo took office as chairman last April, began over the attempts to fire Carey due to poor performance. Though the board decided to retain her on a probationary status, the issue led to other problems with personnel on the board that nearly led to the expulsion of one member and subsequent resignation of three others.

Last month Carey blasted Coccovillo, who was absent at that meeting, accusing the chairman of harassment. Coccovillo later said he was shocked by her accusations.

But the two sat next to each other at Tuesday’s meeting in Kew Gardens and declared a truce.

“Mary Ann and I have agreed to put all past issues behind us,” Coccovillo announced during his report.

Carey apologized to Coccovillo for her remarks last month

“I sincerely apologize if my comments offended you or your family,” she told the chairman, suggesting that some of her accusations may have been untrue.

The peace offering comes only a month before the board is scheduled to hold elections that could decide if Coccovillo retains the gavel. Several members have suggested he may have a tough fight on his hands.

“I’m not happy with how he’s handled things,” said one member who did not want to be identified and said he was undecided. “I’ll have to see who runs against him.”

Another member said she hoped next month’s election would finally settle the nearly one-year-long internal fight.

Several members have expressed displeasure over the issue concerning longtime member Sam Espositio, who was nearly fired of an email sent to three Jewish members of the board —Wallace Bock, Evelyn Baron and Jan Fenster — which they claimed was anti-Semetic. Esposito was not removed, and Bock, Baron and Fenster all subsequently resigned from the board.

Esposito has said the attempt to fire him was due to his strong support of Carey, who herself was nearly removed last June.

Borough President Melinda Katz is scheduled to attend next month’s meeting, which will be held in Ozone Park, according to a representative from her office who was at the meeting.

In the meantime, the board also discussed the impending installation of six cameras in and around Forest Park, which were paid for by allocations from Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) and state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach). The cameras became a priority for officials, civil leaders and police after two sex attacks occurred in the park last year.

A representative from Miller’s office said the cameras will be installed at locations around the park: at the sharp turn on Forest Park Drive between Oak Ridge and the Jackie Robinson Parkway; near the entrance to the golf course; at the Seuffert Bandshell; at Woodhaven Boulevard and Myrtle Avenue; at Freedom Drive and Myrtle Avenue and at the Buddy Monument. The cameras should be installed in the new few months.

In the meantime, the board had a relatively routine meeting on Tuesday night. Members unanimously approved this year’s Wonderful Woodhaven Street Fair slated for Oct. 19. The festival is held every year along Jamaica Avenue between Woodhaven Boulevard and Forest Parkway.

The board also approved a half dozen liquor licenses, none of which were controversial.

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