After 30-Years In City Council, Morton Povman To Step Down

Although Morton Povman will be stepping down from the City Council after a 30-year tenure due to term limits, he has no intentions of giving up politics.

The Brooklyn-born councilman says if he had it his way, he would have run for one more term and then retired. He plans on remaining as Democratic district leader at the John F. Kennedy Regular Democratic Club in Flushing, where he has been a member for 32 years.

Povman has also been an attorney for the last 45 years and has practiced part-time while in office. He intends to continue practicing law now that his council term is about to end.

Having served the 24th District, which includes Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Briarwood, Kew Gardens Hills and Fresh Meadows, Povman says he enjoyed it. “I accomplished everything I thought was virtually do-able and it was a wonderful experience. If I had to do it all over again, I would.”

According to Povman, being a councilman is the best of all legislative jobs for someone who enjoys assisting others and dealing with problems in the community.

“Helping other people has always been something I’ve been happy to do. Even as an attorney you are really working for people, but you are being paid. As a councilman you don’t get paid for everything you do, so you have to love it.”

As chairman of the Rules, Privileges and Elections Committee, Povman helped make, changes and amend rules on the council. He also helped in the process of approving or disapproving people who were recommended by the mayor for positions on different city committees.

They included the Taxi and Limousine Commission, the Municipal Art Commission, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Board of Standards and Appeals and the City Planning Commission.

While Povman served as chairman of the Health Committee, he played a pivotal role in keeping Metropolitan Hospital in Manhattan open, despite the fact that the mayor at the time was trying to close it down.

“Our committee fought the battle against the mayor to keep that hospital and several others the mayor wanted closed. They were looking to save money and the mayor chose the hospital system. It felt good being able to save the health system from those kinds of attacks.”

At the same time, in the late 1980s, the 107th Precinct was in danger of being consolidated with another precinct. Povman was instrumental in helping lead the battle to save it. “We had demonstrations, candlelight parades and car caravans. We were successful and as a result, a new precinct was built a mile away and it is now the new 107th precinct.”

Early in his career, Povman tackled the Samuel LeFrak organization for attempting to build highrises over Willow Lake in Flushing. Povman called for a rally at Queens College, and 2000 people showed up.

“We let the mayor and the borough president know we were not going to let that happen. We have very limited wetlands in central Queens and this would have destroyed the whole atmosphere of the community and the park. It was a tough battle because the mayor was in favor of it, but we succeeded.”

Another major issue Povman went up against was an attempt to put a race track in Flushing Meadows Park in 1984. “It was terrible. This park is surrounded by residential properties and the noise and pollution that would come in would have been enormous. It didn’t belong in the park at all.”

Povman was also a big proponent of building the U.S. Open stadium in Flushing Meadows Park. Despite the fact that many of his constituents did not agree, Povman supported Mayor David Dinkins on the construction of the new stadium. “It was a good move. They did a beautiful job and it has attracted people from all over the country and the world.”

The councilman also notes that he has rehabilitated several parks in his district and built other new ones.

Povman also helped the Jamaica Estates community by allotting the funds to fix the sewer problems that plagued the area for many years.

In terms of legislation, Povman was part of the fight against the tobacco industry by helping establish laws that prevented smoking in certain buildings and for bars to have designated non-smoking areas.

One of his proudest pieces of legislation was creating a law that allowed homeowners to park in front of their own driveways. “It added thousands of spaces in Queens County as a result. It was one of the most popular things I ever did,” he noted.

Povman said his priority now is to spend more time with his family, including his five grandchildren.

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