By Kelsey Durham
After 10 years as chairman of Community Board 11, Jerry Iannece will step down next month due to term limits and a new leader will take his place.
Iannece was first named chairman in 2002, serving five years before being term-limited out in 2007. He then reclaimed the position in 2009 after his successor resigned from the post and he will end his 10-year run March 31 after another five-year term, according to the board’s bylaws.
“It’s a labor of love,” said Iannece, who has also served as chairman of other various civic associations and community groups in the area. “I’m a community activist.”
While serving on the community board, Iannece made two runs at entering the City Council but was defeated both times. He also ran unsuccessfully for an open seat in the state Assembly’s 25th District.
During his time spent as chairman of CB 11 — which covers Auburndale, Bayside, Douglaston, Hollis Hills, Little Neck and Oakland Gardens — Iannece said the board made some important decisions and moved forward with significant projects over the years, some he said he is extremely proud of.
One accomplishment he said he is most fond of is the board’s ability to remediate major flooding in Bayside and Bayside Hills. The $125 million project Iannece called a “major win for everyone” also helped save Oakland Lake, created wetlands and cleaned up the ecosystem while putting thousands of union employees to work, he said.
Iannece also said he is pleased with the way the board functioned during his tenure and worked together to get things done.
“I’m most proud that I took the hat of a civic community leader, but we’ve done this together,” he said. “We’re passionate about our community and our identity, and I think we changed how community boards function because we were proactive rather than reactive.”
Susan Seinfeld, district manager of CB 11, praised Iannece for his commitment to the community but also for the professional and personable way she said he always handles issues that come before the board. She said that in 2009, when the post of chairman became available once again, the board saw Iannece as the clear choice for a replacement because of the job he did during his first term.
“When the other chair had to resign, the board only wanted Jerry to come back to be chair,” Seinfeld said. “That’s how much he is respected by the members. It’s easy to work with him and despite his busy legal career he never fails to call every day to find out what’s going on and make time to take care of the board’s business.”
Elections for a new chairman will take place at the March 5 CB 11 meeting, but Iannece still has one more year remaining on his term as a community board member and Seinfeld said she and the other members are looking forward to his continued presence in the community, even if he will no longer be “the boss.”
Though Iannece will soon step down from his position of authority, he said he looks back at his 10 years as chairman and is pleased with being able to accomplish just what he wanted to do: help improve the community he loves.
“I can only do my best and I think I’ve left my community better than when I found it,” he said. “I’m not going far. I’m nearby and if anybody ever needs my help, all they have to do is ask.”
Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.