District managers push for stronger community boards

They say the city charter should be amended so that city agencies that didn’t exist when community boards were created should be held accountable.

The district managers of the Bronx’s 12 community boards have drafted a set of recommendations, urging the city to make changes that would strengthen their role representing New York’s neighborhoods.

Chaired by Jose Rodriguez, district manager of board 4, which serves Highbridge, the District Managers Task Force emphasized the need for updates to the original Community Board charter, which was established in 1975, and has been revised twice. Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. released the set of recommendations on Nov. 14.

Many city agencies did not exist when the original charter was drafted, they argue. They say the city should ensure those agencies are held accountable to boards and the residents who serve on them. The report contends that boards “have historically lacked the resources and capacity to fulfill their community planning role in a consistently meaningful way.”

Among the issues the taskforce wants the city to consider:

  • The city’s education department should report to community boards on “all school closings, charter schools establishments, school site identification, community growth, public safety and health issues.”
  • The homeless services department should report to boards on the “location of new proposed homeless shelters, new cluster housing proposals, contracted programs in our communities and issues concerning public notification procedures.”
  • Boards should use Neighborhood Economic Resources Surveys, to help “address existing conditions and embark on local initiatives to promote community outreach, public safety, and business development initiatives” with the help of community groups and others.
  • Boards should be notified of all new liquor license applications and renewals, and licenses should be revoked after a bar has had three convictions.
  • Reverse a current ruling that landlords can deny the buildings department access to a property the city wants to inspect.

In addition, the district managers want a closer link with 311 to “monitor service delivery and better target resources,” and with the Office of Emergency Management so that agency can “take advantage of local expertise” during emergencies.

Diaz touted the recommendations.

“Our community boards are often the first line of defense when it comes to our neighborhoods,” he said in a press release, adding that the report would make boards “even more relevant.”

The full report can be read at: http://on.nyc.gov/1bEkcLY