One silver lining of the pandemic? It’s now easier to get involved with your local community board, as the monthly meetings have been made virtual. For Brooklynites thinking about becoming a member of their board, the deadline for applications is fast approaching. All applications must be submitted by February 12 to be considered for open seats in the coming session, which starts in June 2021.
Members get to weigh in on everything from park redesigns to approving liquor licenses for local businesses. Community Board 1 (CB1) is the board serving Greenpoint and Williamsburg, and anyone can apply as long as they “Live, own a business, have an interest, or work in the community,” according to the website of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who appoints the members.
The application process is astonishingly easy—just fill out this short form online and you’ll be considered for a seat on CB1. All Brooklyn community boards have 50 members serving two-year terms. Half of those seats will be refilled this election cycle. According to Adams’ website, applicants will be evaluated based on “how often they attend Community Board meetings, their vested interest in serving on the board, their community involvement, and their career background”.
Increasing diversity is also a major consideration, says Adams’ senior advisor Stefan Ringel. Only 33% of CB1 members are under the age of 45, and only 14 members identified as non-white, according to the latest demographics from 2019. Ringel says it’s a priority to “broaden the range of voices” represented on the board. That includes encouraging youth to apply. Members can be as young as 16-years-old.
Ringel told Greenpointers they’ve seen a rise in member applications and civic engagement in Brooklyn since 2016. “Over the last few years, there has been an increased understanding in the value and the impact that the most local levels of government can have… hyperlocal issues can impact global problems if organized the right way,” said Ringel. He says CB1 has been a critical space for neighborhood dialogue and organizing around shared concerns like the North Brooklyn pipeline and expansion of Bushwick Inlet Park.
Members must reapply for their seats every two years. In 2018, New Yorkers voted to implement term limits for community board members. Members may serve no more than four consecutive, two-year terms. While Adams’ office ultimately appoints each member, half of the members on each board are nominated by local councilmembers. In the case of CB1, that means councilmembers Stephen Levin and Antonio Reynoso.
Becoming a member is not the only way to get involved with the board. Anyone in the community can join a CB1 committee, for example the Parks & Waterfront Committee, Transportation Committee, or Women’s Committee. To join a committee as a non-board member, apply directly to the community board. Anyone can attend a committee meeting, but to become a voting member one has to apply.
CB1 meets on the second Tuesday of each month, with the next meeting on February 9.