By Alex Robinson
CB 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece lambasted the city schools chancellor for ignoring Bayside’s opposition to building a new elementary school on 48th Avenue and showing a lack of respect for the community board.
Iannece went on a tirade against Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott for a letter he sent finding fault with him after the raucous May meeting where many community members decried a proposal to build the new elementary school on the lot occupied by Keil Bros. Garden Center in Bayside. The City Council approved the controversial project for a 416-seat school last month.
“To go out there and disrespect me and malign a community board chair the way he did was outrageous,” Iannece told the December meeting of CB 11 Monday.
Even though the CB 11 board voted 25-3 with nine abstentions against the school proposal, the Council passed the development in November by an overwhelming majority. The only two Council members who voted no were Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) and Peter Vallone Jr, (D-Astoria).
“I’m very upset. The community board was disrespected,” Ianecce said. “Our voices were not heard. They went out there and made this decision without us.”
In his letter to Iannece, Walcott contended members of his staff were shouted down by “an out of control group” at the heated meeting with the city School Construction Authority. He also claimed community members threatened city staff.
“I’m told that you enabled this behavior by not drawing any boundaries to the abuse they were targeting at my staff,” Walcott wrote in his letter to Iannece. “I would never allow anyone to be treated in this manner and would expect that you would have the same standard.”
Iannece took issue with these remarks and responded with his own letter to Walcott.
“I have been chair of Community Board 11 for over 10 years and my reputation for fairness and my ability to conduct open, transparent and orderly meetings with difficult issues is impeccable,” Iannece wrote. “For you to state that I ‘allowed’ your representatives to be threatened is just outrageous and wrong.”
Iannece invited Walcott to listen to the taped meeting before jumping to conclusions.
“We had a meeting. We spoke up. We voiced our opinion. We circulated and let everybody — the powers that be — know what we had to do and what our opinion was, and they totally disregarded it — and I just think it’s wrong,” the board chairman said.
The board covers Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston and part of Flushing.
CB 11 also passed an extension for a variance at their December meeting, which would allow Genesis Tire Outlet on Northern Boulevard to operate.
The board passed the extension unanimously with a number of conditions the owner must meet. These included the premises be kept clean of debris and graffiti, repairs would not be made on the street or sidewalk and vehicles would not park at the facility overnight unless they were waiting for service.
Former mayoral candidate and city Comptroller John Liu issued a final report at the meeting.
Although he lost his bid to be mayor, Liu hinted he would remain active in city politics after his term runs out.
“Though I may not be in office next year, I’m not going away. I’m going to be fully engaged in what’s happening in this city,” said Liu, who finished September’s Democratic mayoral primary in fourth place.
Liu, a former City Council member from Flushing, touted his record as comptroller before vowing to finish the last few weeks of his term strongly.
“I’m not done yet. I’ve got another four weeks and a day and I will be releasing an audit every single week between now and the end of this month,” Liu said. “So I’ll be taking it all the way through to the end.
In fact, he filed suit this week to obtain Department of Finance tax records for an audit of the General Corporation Tax.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.