By Phil Corso
Looking back after more than 30 years as a member of Community Board 11, Bayside’s Mohan Jethwani said public service came naturally to him.
“It is in my blood,” Jethwani said. “I simply do it because I want to help my neighbors.”
The former city engineer and city Department of Transportation deputy commissioner was honored this month with an award for 30 years of service on the community board, which covers Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston and part of Auburndale.
And with the many years of experience, Jethwani said the board members were why he keeps coming back.
“We have such high-quality board members in this community,” Jethwani said. “They all want to improve this area and have no personal agendas.”
While accepting his certificate from Borough President Helen Marshall, Jethwani added a touch of levity to the awards ceremony by saying, “I’m accompanied by my tough, but sweet, bodyguard, Wolfie,” which filled the auditorium with laughter.
Wolfie, his 7-year-old grandson, is a first-grader at PS 130.
Jethwani said CB 11 leaders such as District Manager Susan Seinfeld make serving on the body a more rewarding experience.
The key element to sustaining unity throughout the board’s last 30 years, Jethwani said, was the service of dedicated and influential chairmen. He said current Chairman Jerry Iannece has been the glue keeping the body together.
“Jerry is a terrific personality,” Jethwani said. “These are the kinds of people who make you want to stay because they are great leaders.”
Iannece mirrored similar sentiments, adding that Jethwani brought a unique perspective to the conversation after having served for so many years.
“He is the epitome of what a community activist and community board members should be,” Iannece said. “Not a lot of people come to the table with his wealth of knowledge and renowned experience. His knowledge helps us sift through all the stuff we need to get through, which makes him a valuable asset.”
Jethwani moved to Bayside in 1971 and said it was his ideal place to raise a family because it offered the city lifestyle as well as the open spaces ideal for children. He joined CB 11 as a board member and volunteered his time while working as an engineer throughout the city.
And after 30 years on the board, Jethwani said very few issues remained consistent. He said one of the most important priorities has been preserving the neighborhood quality of Bayside, Little Neck and Douglaston.
Having become so experienced, Jethwani said it was healthy to sustain a mix of new and old members to keep history from repeating itself while providing new perspectives. After 30 years, he said the personality of the board was completely transformed with new blood, but remained consistent to its core values.
“Many of the issues are the same for everyone: fixing roads, building and maintaining bridges, and keeping an eye on development,” Jethwani said. “The mission has always been to achieve the right balance in addressing those things.”
Jethwani said there was no single issue he prides himself on advocating for while on the board, adding that the members worked as a unified body throughout his tenure and deserve equal credit for all their accomplishments.
“I like helping with the little things people need like repaving potholes,” Jethwani said. “I don’t do it for the recognition.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4573.