Greenpoint resident Teresa Toro has announced her resignation from Community Board 1, where she has served as its Transportation Committee chair for the past seven years.
Toro cited a timing issue as her reason for resignation, as she is beginning to wrestle with increasing demands from work and graduate school.
A native of Cypress Hills, the chatty chair has long advocated for a comprehensive transportation plan for North Brooklyn while shepherding community involvement a number of projects including the reconstruction of Flushing Avenue, rail transportation for Waste Management cargo, a truck traffic study, and the inclusion of more bicycle lanes in Williamsburg and Greenpoint.
She remains most well-known for her involvement in the Department of Transportation’s Kent Avenue redesign project, where she was briefly forced to step down from her position as chair in January this year due to an internal disagreement.
Toro stressed that she was resigning of her own volition, adding that new responsibilities of her position may have contributed indirectly to the timing of her decision.Last month, when community board members were given committee assignments for the coming term, the Motion Pictures committee was folded into the Transportation committee. That committee typically addresses issues regarding complaints from residents over street closures and noise relating to film shootings in the neighborhood.
“I am not resigning simply because the Motion Pictures Committee was merged with mine, but the Transportation Committee’s plate was already quite full,” said Toro.“One could have made a valid point that instead of resigning, I could try to lower my level of service, but I’ve tried that and have had a hard time making that a reality. I know it’s a volunteer position, but in my opinion, the fact that you’ve volunteered for it obligates you to do it as well and thoroughly as possible.”
Ata CB 1 meeting on December 1, Chairman Chris Olechowski lauded Toro’s work while celebrating her accomplishments.
“Everyone in this community recognizes how much work you’ve put in.Please keep in touch,” said Olechowski.
Public officials and transportation advocates throughout Brooklyn praised Toro’s dedication to her volunteer work.
“Just as community boards are the heart and soul of municipal government in New York City, Teresa Toro was the heart and soul of CB1, whether she was working with community groups at the grassroots level or fighting to make her community’s streets more livable and transportation systems safer and more efficient,” said Borough President Marty Markowitz.
Streetsblog, a transportation blog covering Albany and New York City, called her “one of New York City’s most productive livable streets activists in recent years,” while outgoing Councilmember David Yassky (D-Williamsburg) declared that he is “a big fan” and that he is grateful for her work and her service.
“She is a model citizen activist in her willingness to devote time effort, blood, sweat and tears to work on genuine community issues,” said Yassky.
For transportation advocates, Toro’s absence on CB 1 represents a significant loss not just for Williamsburg but for the city as a whole.
“Teresa knows trucks, she knows bikes, she knows pedestrians, she knows drivers,” said Transportation Alternatives spokesperson Wiley Norvell. “The board would do well to continue to seek out those kinds of people of expertise who see things as holistically.”
Assemblymember Joseph Lentol predicted that North Brooklyn has not seen the last of Toro when it comes to transportation policy, yet wished her well in her next endeavor.
“She has given countless hours of dedicated service and we are very grateful for everything she done for on behalf of the transportation committee and the community at large,” said Toro.
Those closest to her professionally, including her community board colleague Ward Dennis, chair of CB1’s Land Use Committee, highlighted Toro’s work ethic and her ability to “raise consciousness about transportation issues and how tightly those issues are intertwined with our everyday lives.” Her friend, Democratic District Leader Jo Anne Simon, said that Toro personifies what a citizen-responsible committee chair should be like.
“Her commitment to keeping the dialogue open on so many issues is a testament to her belief in transparent and citizen-responsive government,” said Simon. “Nobody does it better.”
The board is currently accepting applications from its members for Toro’s replacement as Transportation Committee chair.
©2009 Community News Group
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