Join a Community Board, Represent Your Neighborhood | On C.B. 2 & WSP

Community Board 2 oversees a large area including, yes, Washington Square Park, and also surrounding Greenwich Village, SoHo, NoHo, Little Italy, Chinatown, Hudson Square and Gansevoort Market (Their listing of the neighborhoods, not mine.). Board members serve two year terms, staggered so not all have to be filled at once. Some members have been on the board for years and years, other ‘seats’ on the board are filled by new members. The following charts show which C.B.2 members’ terms end in 2018 and 2019 and which elected official appointed them to the Board. Community Board decisions are considered “advisory,” yet they remain important and a lot plays out at that level.

You can apply right now to represent on any of the 59 Community Boards in the five boroughs. Applications to be on Manhattan Community Boards are due by Friday, February 9th at 5 p.m.

Community Board 2 and WSP

Community Board 2 has had a mixed relationship to Washington Square Park; their decisions regarding the park could be more thoughtfully weighed more fully taking into account public comment and sentiment, particularly regarding the private conservancy vote a few years ago (a very split vote) and the “murky” process that ensued there, and Ai Weiwei / Public Art Fund “Fences” more recently. Those are just in the last few years. The monitoring of details on the redesign construction of the park after Phase I was cursory at best. Other public space decisions of note, included weighing in on Pier 55 (“Diller Island”). When it comes to private influence, some board members are too quick to cast aside legitimate public concerns. Yet the public still has a voice regarding Washington Square Park and that is not necessarily the case at the other larger Manhattan parks. The difference is that those other parks are privatized, including Madison Square Park, Union Square Park, Bryant Park – run by private organizations, unlike WSP which is run by the city Parks Department. The public role gets taken out of the “public space” once a private organization is involved. It is strong community sentiment that Washington Square Park should not be privatized that has kept it from that fate. Community input remains incredibly important to maintaining the character of this important Greenwich Village park.

To Apply to be on the Community Boards

For Community Board 2 and others in Manhattan, you can apply here.

If you are in another borough, check in with your Borough President or City Council member to apply.

More on the Community Board’s role

Background from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s office:

Community Board members are appointed to staggered two-year terms, with half selected by the Borough President and half nominated by the City Council members representing each community board district. There are 12 Community Boards in Manhattan and 59 citywide.

Manhattan’s 12 community boards are local organizations each composed of 50 volunteer members serving staggered two-year terms. Community boards are tasked with being the independent and representative voices of their communities—the most grass-roots form of local government. The boards are pivotal in shaping their communities and work to enhance and preserve the character of the city’s many unique neighborhoods.

Each community board has a budget, a district manager and staff, and has three distinct responsibilities:

Monitoring the delivery of city services such as sanitation and street maintenance;
Planning and reviewing land use applications including zoning changes; and
Making recommendations for each year’s city budget.

Community boards consider a wide range of issues, including distribution of liquor licenses, consideration of sidewalk café applications, and permits for street fairs and other outdoor events. They may also weigh in issues before the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Board of Standards and Appeals (the city agency dedicated to land-use and zoning regulation), and provide input on proposals from city agencies.

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