Ferrara resigns from CB11 following board vote to remove her as chair

Bernadette Ferrara speaking at a podium
Bernadette Ferrara speaks against the Just Home proposal at the Sept. 29, 2022 public hearing at Jacobi Medical Center.
File photo Aliya Schneider

Bernadette Ferrara has resigned from Bronx Community Board 11  following last week’s vote to strip her of her leadership role on the body, the Bronx Times confirmed on Thursday.

In an interview on May 3, Ferrara — the former chair of CB11 — said that she’s upset about how the events have transpired over the past year, but emphasized that she still plans to be active in the community.

“I have a heavy heart because our communities are suffering and that was always my focus,” she told the Bronx Times.

The full board voted to remove both Ferrara and former Vice Chair Al D’Angelo from their respective positions during the body’s most recent meeting on April 25 after months of deliberation and even despite the CB11 investigative committee’s recommendation that they both be allowed to carry out their terms.

In her resignation letter dated May 1, Ferrara said she was proud of her accomplishments over the past 16 years, including the work she’s done since she was elected chair on Jan. 26, 2023.

But, she said CB11 has become “a circus” in the past few years with new appointees who she claims joined the board to “take over.”

“These board members are inexperienced and don’t even represent a neighborhood because they are not a part of any local civic group,” Ferrara, who also serves as the president of the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance, said in her resignation letter.

She told the Bronx Times on May 3 that she wished the board could have focused more on projects in the community — like the Metro-North expansion project and the City of Yes housing proposal — rather than what she staunchly maintains are “unsubstantiated” allegations about her fitness to lead CB11.

Ferrara’s removal as chair came after board members claimed she neglected some of her duties, including not meeting attendance requirements and missing deadlines, primarily while campaigning for the CD-13 council seat against Marjorie Velázquez in the June 2023 local primary. She has routinely refuted all allegations lodged against her, accusing CB11 of having “an agenda” against both her and D’Angelo.

“The past year’s board disruptions and constant bylaws amendment changes to suit the board members’ demands was done with Machiavellian tactics that allowed the escalation  to these horrendous removal proceedings with unsubstantiated allegations to shame two longtime community leaders that have given decades to BxCB11 communities,” Ferrara told the Bronx Times in a statement. “There was no collaboration through our differences as honorable BxCB11 board members had done in the past to blend together for the good of the communities, but one of ‘cleaning house.'” 

Ferrara also placed blame on Bronx Borough President (BP) Vanessa Gibson for how the events of CB11 have unfolded — saying the BP didn’t assist her adequately during disruptive meetings and alleging she brought her personal politics to the board. The BP told her to step aside during her campaign for City Council — even after the city Conflict of Interest Board (COIB) said she’d be allowed to run.

“In the BP’s eyes, I was a threat to Marjorie Velázquez, the poster girl for the far left,” Ferrara wrote to the Bronx Times. “As a moderate Democrat, my community politics did not align with the BP’s.”

Gibson has responded to Ferrara’s grievances publicly, claiming on social media that her arguments are “filled with inaccuracies” and saying that “the blame game is irresponsible and petty.”

In an official statement after the April 25 meeting, Gibson expressed her disappointment over “yet another public demonstration of dysfunction” at CB11.

“There has been an outcry from board members and community members alike expressing outrage and frustration,” Gibson said. “I share their sentiment and will meet their call for help to restore order and civility to Community Board 11.”

Gibson also said, however, that she believes some CB11 members “moved forward with the removal process solely to embarrass these board officers,” which she said was “an unacceptable way to treat longtime community leaders.”

CB11 District Manager Jeremy Warneke told the Bronx Times on May 2 that he had “one word to describe Bernadette’s resignation: unfortunate.”

When asked if plans to run for public office again are on the horizon, Ferrara told the Bronx Times on May 3 that she’s not focused on politics right now — more on her personal life, and advocating as she sees fit for the East Bronx communities she serves.

“I’m not going anywhere,” she said.

This story was last updated at 1:31 p.m. on May 3. 

Reach Camille Botello at cbotello@schnepsmedia.com. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes