Volume 75, Number 38 | February 8 -14 2006

Stringer vows to fill board vacancies by early April

By Albert Amateau

Scott Stringer, who became Manhattan borough president at the beginning of this year, spoke last week about his plans to strengthen and reform the borough’s 12 community boards.

For starters, Stringer, who gave up his seat in the State Assembly in January after winning the borough presidency, pledged to complete all appointments and fill all 50 seats in the local boards by the first week in April.

At the Feb. 1 meeting of Community Board 4, which covers Chelsea and Clinton, Stringer also promised to make good on his campaign promise to “depoliticize” the boards and provide them with resources for a stronger land-use advisory role in city government.

Relations between nightlife venues and residents will be another important concern, Stringer said.

“We’re going to sell the idea of community boards and let people know that this is where the action is,” Stringer said, announcing the beginning of an effort to encourage public participation in community boards and their committees. “We want people to apply for board membership and if they aren’t appointed now, they can become valuable public members of committees that interest them,” he added.

The borough president said he has asked the urban planning departments of New York University, Columbia University, New School University, Cooper Union and Pratt Institute to recommend graduate student interns to work with the boards.

“We hope to have a graduate planning student in each community board by September; so start thinking about how you want to use them,” Stringer told C.B. 4 members. “These bright, energetic, young people will be eager for the challenge of land-use planning in Manhattan. It’s a great opportunity to do a lot of things,” he said.

Regarding the often-strained relations between residential neighbors and bars and clubs, Stringer said he hopes to encourage meetings between nightlife establishments and residents. “There is distrust on both sides, and I don’t think it has to be that way,” he said.

“Bad clubs have to close, but I don’t want to close an industry that is an important part of the city’s economy,” said Stringer at a board meeting where Chelsea residents later convinced the board to vote against recommending liquor licenses for a proposed new 1,000-capacity club on W. 27th St. and a proposed 300-capcity steakhouse in a residential block on W. 15th St.

Stringer paid tribute to the tradition of land-use expertise at Community Board 4. Anthony Borelli, district manager of the board for more than five years, has been appointed director of Stringer’s land-use staff and Dan Golub, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried’s former liaison to C.B. 4, is his assistant director of land use.

Shaan Kahn is Stinger’s liaison to Community Board 2, covering the Village, and C.B. 4, covering Chelsea. Mary Cooley is Stringer’s liaison to Community Board 1 and 3, covering Lower Manhattan and the East Village/Lower East Side, respectively, and Joshua Bocian, community affairs director for Stringer, is the liaison to Community Board 5, covering central Manhattan between 14th and 59th Sts., and Board 7, covering the Upper West Side.

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