By Sarina Trangle
She helped generations of immigrants acclimate to central Queens, guided Jamaica Hospital through its renaissance and ushered in improvements at Forest Park.
But after a tempestuous year, Community Board 9 District Manager Mary Ann Carey is ready to hand over the reins.
Carey announced her retirement after more than 30 years at CB 9. Her paperwork is slated to become effective Oct. 1. The board said it would discuss a replacement search process at its next meeting.
“It’s time,” she said. “I went through a very rough year … everything calmed down. So this was my time to show I was going to retire on my own accord.”
Carey said during the January CB 9 meeting that she reached out to her union because she felt harassed by then-CB 9 Chairman James Coccovillo. The two later announced they had overcome their differences.
The flare-up came after 42 of 46 board members at an executive session in June 2013 voted to put Carey on a six-month probation period and offer her unspecified training, CB 9 meeting minutes show.
Still, Carey said her tenure was mostly full of fond memories.
She began working as a secretary for CB 10, which covers Howard Beach, Lindenwood, South Ozone Park and parts of Richmond Hill, in 1979 and then migrated to CB 9, which covers portions of Richmond Hill, Woodhaven, Ozone Park and Kew Gardens, when an assistant district manager position opened. She later ascended to the district manager role.
Carey said she was particularly proud of her role as well as CB 9’s in preventing the roughly 110-year-old carousel in Forest Park from being sold in the 1980s, as once proposed.
The district manager also assisted the board in fighting for a park administrator.
“It was starting to deteriorate. There were all kinds of bad activities going on in the parking lot. We had police there constantly,” she said. “It’s not anything like that now.”
Carey, an Ozone Park native now living in Howard Beach, said she watched CB 9 welcome waves of newcomers, with Puerto Ricans and Dominicans moving in during the ’80s and Guyanese, Trinidadians and Asian immigrants coming in later years.
“The neighborhood has changed drastically,” she said. “I remember once my mom was sick and I was driving her to the hospital and she yelled, ‘Don’t take me to Jamaica Hospital.’ I was here when Jamaica Hospital was a junkyard. Now it’s beautiful.”
CB 9 established a committee to guide the emergency facility’s remodeling work. And Carey joined the hospital’s advisory board, a position she intends to maintain well into her retirement.
She also plans to take a more active role in the Kiwanis Club of Ozone Park, a political club she declined to name and an area Order Sons of Italy in America organization.
Local leaders said Carey would be missed at CB 9.
“I’m amazed at how many people have gone to her and gone to the office and come back satisfied,” CB 9 Chairman Ralph Gonzalez said.
City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) praised her dedication.
“Mary Ann Carey was a superb public servant who always put the best interests of the community above all else,” said Ulrich, a former CB 9 member.
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at email@example.com.