Borough President Eric Adams is encouraging civic-minded Brooklyn residents to apply for memberships on their neighborhood community boards and in an effort to entice them, he has made the application process easier.
For the first time in the borough’s history, residents will be able to apply online. Applications for community board appointments are now available at www.brooklyn-usa.org. The deadline to apply is Monday, Feb. 15. Applicants must be New York City residents and must live, work in or have a professional or other significant interest in the neighborhood the community board represents.
Community boards, which have existed in their current form for 40 years following the Charter Revision of 1975, are composed of 50 unpaid members who serve as neighborhood watchdogs and advise city government on such issues as zoning and land use. Each community board maintains an office in their neighborhood. The boards are allowed to hire a district manager, a paid staffer whose job entails handling constituent complaints and working with city agencies to ensure the smooth delivery of city services such as sanitation pick-ups. There are 18 community boards in Brooklyn.
Community board members are appointed to two-year terms by the borough presidents. Half of the appointments are based on recommendations from local City Council members. Adams called community boards the most local representative bodies of government in New York City.
“Our community board members are critical to the conversation between the residents of each neighborhood, their city agencies, and local elected officials. In a city of over 8 million people, we cannot lose sight of the hyper-local focus needed to solve problems and identify opportunities on every block and street corner. Community boards are the grassroots forums where ideas that will define the future of Brooklyn are introduced and discussed,” Adams said in a statement. “With applications now available online, I hope to see an expanded applicant pool that is engaged and representative of the diverse identities and interests that make up our borough.”
Brian Kaszuba, a member of Community Board 10 (Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights) since 2013, said membership is “a great way to get involved” in a neighborhood.
“The ability to affect change is there. You have a voice and more of a direct connection to city government,” said Kaszuba, editor of CityLand, a publication that covers land use issues. The boards can make a big difference, according to Kaszuba.
“In the last couple of years our board has taken a number of serious votes on issues such as transportation changes to Fourth Avenue and the mayor’s zoning plans,” he said.
Kaszuba said Adams is right to conduct an outreach effort to convince residents to join community boards and bring fresh faces into civic life. “You always want different points of view,” he said.
Adams admitted that he is hoping to get applications from teenagers. Last year, he used the authority granted under a new state law that gives borough presidents the ability to appoint two members who are at least 16 years of age to each community board. As a result, teenagers were selected to join Community Boards 2, 3, 6, 9, 11 and 16. The borough president is aiming for a paperless application process starting in 2017.