April 22, 2015 By Michael Florio
After nearly 40 years at the helm, Community Board 1 chairman Vinicio Donato is stepping down.
Donato, who has held the top job since 1979, told the board at its monthly meeting at the Astoria World Manner last night that it was time to move on.
“I’m 80-years-old,” he said. “I’m tired.”
Donato said that it has been an honor to serve and witness the board’s growth over the years.
“At my first [community board] meeting there were eight people there,” he said. “We met in the back of an auto school.”
Donato said that he will remain on the board until the end of August.
The community board will then elect a new chairman at the September meeting.
Donato said that First Vice Chair George Stamatiades, who has been on the board since 1982, is next in line for the top job– although other board members can be nominated.
Donato’s departure comes just months after Joseph Conley, who served as chairman of community board 2 for 23 years, stepped down from that position.
Moreover, there has been a recent push among several council members to pass a bill that would limit the amount of time board members can serve to 12 years–as a means to get new people with fresh ideas on boards. However, many council members also oppose the bill arguing that dedicated, experienced people would be lost.
Community Board 1 members also learned last night that Lucille Hartmann, CB1’s long-serving district manager, is also stepping down.
“Lucille wants to stay home with her grandchildren,” Donato said.
Members of the board initially seemed shocked, then groaned, but then began to congratulate her.
“I can’t believe so much time has passed,” she said. “I have just been blessed and I thank you all for the opportunity.”
The board is putting together a personnel committee, made up of current board members, to find her replacement.
Donato said that the position does not have to be filled by a CB1 board member.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, whose district incorporates part of the CB1 area, said: “I thank Vinicio Donato for his four-plus decades of public service with Community Board 1 and acknowledge him for his commitment as an educator while at IS 10 where I attended as a kid.”
He also commended Hartmann for her dedication to the community.
Meanwhile, Councilman Costa Constantinides also thanked them for their years of service. “I wish them well in their upcoming retirement and both will be missed.”