Cobble Hillians slam civic group leadership in LICH fight amidst heated election

Cobble Hillians slam civic group leadership in LICH fight amidst heated election
Community News Group / Lauren Gill

Squabble Hill is back!

Simmering discontent within the ranks of the influential Cobble Hill Association boiled over at the civic group’s elections on Wednesday night, when several current rulers — who took over as interim leaders last year after deposing the group’s then longtime leader — mounted an 11th hour challenge against the presumptive nominees, and disgruntled members used the occasion to hold them to account for what they say has been a closed-door administration.

The crew led a mutiny against former honcho Roy Sloane in September, accusing him of ineffective and insular leadership in private negotiations with the city and the developer of a widely hated housing complex planned for the old Long Island College Hospital site, and promising to usher in a new era of transparency. But many members said they ended up being even more opaque than their predecessor.

“There was a lack of transparency about what happened at the City Hall meeting, about what work the legal committee had done,” said one man on the condition of anonymity.

A nominating committee had already assembled a slate of candidates for the seven board roles for Wednesday’s election — and members ultimately voted to stand by its choices. But not before members nominated the incumbents from the floor, and the election turned into a referendum on their leadership.

One local nominated Buzz Doherty, who has served as vice president since the coup, for president against the committee-approved Amy Breedlove, who had been serving as membership secretary and ultimately won over voters with her promise of renewed communication over the development and the promise of creating a local oyster festival.

Others nominated Franklin Stone — who served as president in the ’90s, and who was an influential figure in Sloane’s ouster — to run against nominee George Sanchez for second vice president, and current treasurer Ezana Bocresion to challenge Chip McCahill.

They all accepted, claiming that turning over the leadership right now would be a mistake since his cohort is already negotiating with Fortis, the developer of the hospital site, and would thus be more likely to get somewhere in convincing it to acquiesce to the community’s demands for smaller, less flashy towers on the property.

“It would be more likely that we’d have a more continuous and constructive outcome under my leadership,” said Doherty.

But the approved candidate for first vice president — who ran unopposed — disagreed.

“The nominated slate from the floor has proven itself belligerent,” said Michael Epstein. “If we are going to go forward as a community to fight Fortis, we need a slate that will work together and work with you.”

And in the end, the majority of Cobble Hillians agreed, voting via ballot to approve the pre-vetted slate.

The new leaders say they are ready to get to work in their two-year term and turn over a new leaf in the civic group’s relationship with the neighborhood.

“I think the community is really going to be communicated to and feel a part of the CHA again,” said Breedlove. “I feel ecstatic.”

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill