By Carol Tannenhauser
Applications to join Community Board 7 (CB7) are being accepted now through March 1st, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine announced on Wednesday. As borough president, it is Levine’s responsibility to appoint Manhattan’s community board members, half of whom are nominated by City Council members.
So, what is a community board, anyway, and do you belong on it?
Community boards are the most grassroots of governmental bodies. Wielding only advisory power, they can still exert significant influence. Their primary mission is to advise elected officials and government agencies on matters affecting the welfare of the neighborhood by issuing “resolutions.”
Lest you think resolutions are meaningless, we invite you to look at the bike lane on the east side of Central Park West, which was approved in one of the most rancorous CB7 meetings ever. (And that’s saying something!)
There are 59 community boards in the city, 12 in Manhattan, each with 50 members, including the chairperson. Members must be 16 and older, and live or work in the district they want to serve. Here is an overview of the role and responsibilities of community boards and their members:
Community boards consider a wide range of issues, including distribution of liquor licenses and permits for street fairs and other outdoor events, among others. They may also weigh in on issues before the Landmarks Preservation Commission or the Board of Standards and Appeals (the city agency dedicated to land use and zoning regulation) and provide input on proposals from city agencies.
Each Community Board member serves for two years and can re-apply at the end of their term. Members are usually expected to serve on a minimum of two committees, typically broken down by issue and/or neighborhood, as well as attend the monthly board meeting where all committees make a report to the full board membership. Members of Community Boards serve without compensation but may be reimbursed for actual, necessary out-of-pocket expenses in connection with their responsibilities.
“I’ve always considered it an honor and put a lot of time and effort into this volunteer position,” said CB7 Member Barbara Adler. “Being a member puts one in a position of knowing all of the issues in the neighborhood. You must be interested in them, as well as in hearing from those in the community who use the board’s public sessions to speak about issues of importance to them. It’s also a collegial organization, and to me that’s important.”
Levine says he is committed to “making Manhattan’s 12 Community Boards better reflect the needs and diversity of the communities they serve. I strongly urge anyone who has a desire to get involved in the well-being of your community to apply.”
Here is the 2022 Community Board application. It is due by March 1st and can be submitted digitally or in hard copy.