Archive for the tag 'community boards'

Members of a City Council committee are pushing a resolution introduced last week that calls for the city’s 59 community boards to adopt sweeping reforms, including term limits.

The council’s Committee on Governmental Operations met on March 3, drawing up the list of recommendations to improve the recruitment and function of the boards.

The local boards, each made up of 50 unpaid, volunteer members, have long drawn criticism for their appointment processes, which many say are politically motivated. Boardmembers are appointed by the borough president at the recommendation of local councilmembers, leading some to criticize their independence.

According to the Daily Eagle, the recommendations include:

  • Term limits of five consecutive two-year terms for board members.
  • Online application and technology infrastructure.
  • Conflict of interest disclosure by all applicants.
  • Requiring reappointment applications with evaluation of attendance, service and participation.
  • Ban on political appointments; specifically staffers of elected officials and executive board members of a political party.
  • Filling vacancies within 30 days.
  • Improved outreach and recruitment focusing on diversity, geography and experts.
  • Youth representation by 16- and 17-year olds as public members of youth committees and as full board members.

While the existence of the community boards are mandated by the City Charter, each board maintains its own bylaws dictating how they function. Some boards, such as Community Board 13, representing Coney Island and Brighton Beach, have term limits for its officers, while others, like Community Board 15, representing Sheepshead Bay, do not.

In Sheepshead Bay, community board recruitment and membership became an issue during the recent City Council race. At a September debate, the Democratic candidates discussed the local board’s diversity as well as term limits and the ways to depoliticize the appointment process.

Chaim Deutsch, who went on to win the election, said he hoped to strengthen and diversify the board, but didn’t offer details. He did note that he was opposed to term limits for board members.

“If you have board members that are there and following the processes and going to meetings and following up, and where you have various issues like zoning issues and they actually go down and look at the homes they’re having a hearing on – that person should stay,” Deutsch said at the time.

Community Board 15 is meeting tonight, March 25, at 7:00 p.m. at Kingsborough Community College  (2001 Oriental Boulavard) in the faculty dining room.

There were no zoning items on the agenda mailed to newsletter recipients.

The board’s chairperson and district manager will deliver their monthly reports, as will chairpersons from the Board’s health, postal, public safety and transportation committees. There will also be time to hear residents’ concerns and discuss the reports, and elected officials may be in attendance.

Refreshments will be served.

Ed Eisenberg at the 2010 Sheepshead Bay Memorial Day Parade

For more than 40 years he was entwined in the fabric of the Southern Brooklyn community. He was ever-present at community meetings, where he was frequently recognized for stellar attendance. He was a member of numerous civic groups; so many that no one can list them all. He rubbed elbows, and sometimes chewed out, politicians including every Brooklyn borough president from Howard Golden to Eric Adams, and too many councilmembers, state legislators and congressmen to count. He charmed with self-deprecating jokes, and had a habit of starting conversations smack-dab in the middle of it. And he loved his local parks, his waterfront and his community up until he drew his final breath.

Longtime community activist Edward “Eddie” Eisenberg passed away yesterday afternoon at the age of 79 years old, after being admitted to Maimonides Medical Center with heart-related complications.

“It was just his biggest passion to have everything clean and safe around here. To the very end. Lord knows, even when he was losing it at the end, he wanted his attache case because he had the results of the previous Community Board elections in there,” said Leigh Eisenberg, 42, the younger of Eisenberg’s two sons.

Born in Flatbush in 1934, Eisenberg attended private high schools before obtaining an associate degree at New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn.

Eisenberg in Fort Ord, Salinas, California

As armistice negotiations were being finalized on the Korean peninsula, Eisenberg enlisted in the United States Army and served at Fort Ord in Salinas, California, where he worked as an information specialist from 1954 to 1956.

He returned to his home borough and began his career as a salesman of packaging supplies. He met his wife, Eileen, now 74, at a singles event and the two married in 1965. They moved to Manhattan Beach shortly afterwards.

Eisenberg took to civic involvement in his adopted neighborhood with a fervor “as soon as they moved into the neighborhood,” said Leigh. “He loved Manhattan Beach and he really just always wanted to see it well maintained and safe from the moment he moved into the area.”

No one can recall exactly when he joined Community Board 15, but the lowest estimates of his tenure from friends and family put it at 38 years, easily making him the longest-serving member of the 50-person body – and perhaps the most passionate.

“I just remember as a little kid, he was so involved taking us kids fishing at Kingsborough Community College, sharing his passion for the water around the neighborhood. He just couldn’t help out in the community enough,” said Leigh.

His chief concern, Scavo said, was in lobbying the city to invest in parks.

“He always, always wanted parks – that was his shtick in life. Not transportation, parks. That was it. Every meeting, you had to support the parks, he was very, very, very involved with Parks Department issues,” said Scavo. “He was always crazed with parks.”

Former Councilman Lew Fidler, who recommended Eisenberg for reappointment to the Board in recent years, added that Eisenberg stood out for his eagerness to go above and beyond in considering Board matters.

“He was always vocal about getting to the bottom of every land use issue that came before the Board. He was so committed that when an application came before the Board he would visit the site and talk to neighbors about what they thought about the project,” said Fidler. “It really didn’t matter to him if it was across the street in Manhattan Beach or all the way in Homecrest. It makes you wonder how good a Community Board could be if every member took it as seriously as Ed.”

Local elected officials have issued statements on Eisenberg’s passing.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz posted on Facebook:

He knew the details of every community meeting and neighborhood event, almost before they were scheduled. He was generous of spirit, always eager to help and ferociously proud of the community he called home. My condolences to his wife, Eileen, and everyone who knew and loved him. Ed, you will be sorely missed but never forgotten.

Councilman Chaim Deutsch said the following in a press release:

“I’ve known Ed for a long time, and have always admired the passion he held for his favorite part of Brooklyn,” said Council Member Chaim Deutsch. “My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, his two sons, and all the friends he’s left behind. Manhattan Beach will never be the same.”

Borough President Eric Adams issued a statement as well:

My sincerest condolences go to out to Ed’s wife, children and relatives, as well as the larger South Brooklyn family that knew and loved his commitment to the community. From his service to our country to his deep civic engagement, Ed left a legacy for all of us to admire. He was the epitome of the volunteer spirit, an example for Brooklynites today and tomorrow to follow.

Eisenberg’s idiosyncrasies and sense of humor will be as well remembered as his advocacy.

“Ed was, if nothing else, a unique character,” Fidler remembered. “And for whatever else people want to say about Ed, he really cared about his community and his family. He used to speak about his son in Australia all the time. Quirky, of course, but you couldn’t really question where his heart was. Community was his whole life outside his family.”

Scavo remembers the costumes, stuff of legend among those involved in local civic life. Eisenberg kept a closet full of costumes, which he donned at annual gatherings over the years.

“Night Out Against Crime was always the Keystone Cop. When it came to Memorial Day, he always used to pull out Army uniforms. He always had Halloween masks and costumes, and no matter what he had a costume to go with that occasion,” she said.

His quirks did not escape his family’s notice, and they remain fond memories in the wake of his passing.

“Everyone knew him. Lord knows the man was eccentric but he had a heart as big as the moon and everyone knew it,” said Leigh Eisenberg.

Eisenberg is survived by his wife, Eileen; his eldest son, Glenn, 46, who with his wife Simone gave Eisenberg a grandson, Aaron, 2; and his youngest son, Leigh, who with his wife Jill gave Eisenberg two granddaughters, Raya, 11, and Anissa, 9. Eisenberg is also survived by his sisters Marianne and Lisa, and his brother Steve.

A service will be held for Ed Eisenberg on Tuesday, March 4, at 1:00 p.m. at Parkside Memorial Chapels (2576 Flatbush Avenue, at the corner of Avenue V). The family has chosen not to direct donations, saying that Ed had cared for too many things to pick just one, and requested that anyone wishing to make a donation send them to any community-oriented charities or groups.

Update (March 3 at 2:30 p.m.): A statement from Borough President Eric Adams was added to this post.

BEFORE AND AFTER: 2801 Brown before construction began (Source: Google maps; 2801 Brown in a recent photo (Source: Community Board 15)

BEFORE AND AFTER: 2801 Brown before construction began (Source: Google maps; 2801 Brown in a recent photo (Source: Community Board 15)

Bullet Points” is our format for Community Board 15 meeting coverage, providing takeaways we think are important. Information in Bullet Points is meant only to be a quick summary, and some issues may be more deeply explored in future articles.

Bunga-no! Community Board 15 voted last night to deny an application for a special permit to enlarge a single-family, one-story bungalow on Brown Street into a two-story residence, although much of the work appears to have already been completed.

According to the attorney representing the property, Alexander Levkovich, the owners of 2801 Brown Street are seeking to elevate the bungalow to comply with FEMA flood map recommendations. To do so, the attorney said, they’d have to see an increase in the permitted floor-area-ratio (FAR) – the formula used to determine how much square footage can be constructed on a given property.

But the attorney let slip seemingly contradictory statements that soured the Board’s opinion of the project.

A photo of the property was shared with the Board showing the property, which has already been elevated and a second story added. The lawyer stated that work “up until what’s been approved by the Department of Buildings” was completed, leaving boardmembers to wonder why a FAR waiver was needed since the building has already been raised.

Bullet Points is our easy-to-read rundown of Community Board 15 meetings. Keep reading to learn what happened.

Community Board 15 is meeting tomorrow, February 25, at 7:00 p.m. at Kingsborough Community College  (2001 Oriental Boulavard) in the faculty dining room.

On the agenda are public hearings for several zoning items in Marine Park, Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan Beach. Here are the applications being considered:

  • 1807 East 22nd Street: An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family home
  • 1824 East 22nd Street: An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family home
  • 2801 Brown Street: An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family home
  • 145 Girard Street: An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family home

In addition to the zoning items, the board’s chairperson and district manager will deliver their monthly reports. There will also be time to hear residents’ concerns and discuss various committee reports, and elected officials may be in attendance.

Refreshments will be served.

Correction: The original version of this post stated that the address of the first zoning item on the agenda is 1897 East 22nd Street. That was incorrect; it is 1807 East 22nd Street. The post has been amended, and we regret any confusion this may have caused.

Due to the holidays, Community Board 15 will meet earlier in the month than usual, with their December meeting scheduled for tomorrow, December 17 at 6:30 p.m.

The meeting takes place in the faculty dining room (U112) of Kingsborough Community College (2001 Oriental Boulevard), and will feature a some refreshments and mingling to celebrate the holidays and New Year before hitting the agenda items at 7:00 p.m.

Here are the zoning items being considered by the Board this month:

  • 2904 Voorhies Avenue - An application for a variance to enlarge an existing one-story dwelling
  • 1905 McDonald Avenue - An application to extend the term of a variance permitting a one-story manufacturing building, with no construction work planned at the location

If you live near any of these locations and are concerned about its effects on the community, the Community Board meeting is the place to get more information and voice your objections.

There will also be time to hear residents’ concerns and discuss various committee reports, and elected officials may be in attendance.

2632East21

The proposed location for First Steps to Recovery

In the midst of the summer drama centered around a proposed drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility on East 21st Street, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz blasted the agencies involved for ignoring community input. He promised a legislative solution that would force these agencies to consider local objections in the future.

This week, Cymbrowitz made good on his promise by introducing Assembly Bill 8237, requiring that the oversight agency, the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), solicit and review recommendations from local governmental units before approving outpatient drug treatment centers.

As we learned in the attempted relocation of the Brighton Beach-based First Steps to Recovery to a residential building at 2632 East 21st Street, the under-equipped OASAS puts its faith on decision-making in the municipality. In New York City, that’s the Department of Health.

First Steps came before Community Board 15, which blasted the plan. Unfortunately, their letter of opposition was sent to OASAS – not to the Department of Health. So when the DOH gave the a-o-k, OASAS fell in line.

Cymbrowitz’s bill requires the local governmental unit (the DOH) to solicit the opinion of the relevant community board before making its final determination.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly’s Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, which he chairs. In the Senate, it has been sponsored by Senator Diane Savino. As a member of the power-sharing coalition in charge, Savino’s support in the Senate is a fairly positive sign for the bill’s fate.

Here’s the full press release from Cymbrowitz:

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn), fresh off a victory over a controversial drug treatment center in SheepsheadBay, is introducing legislation (A.8237) requiring community input to be considered in the placement of outpatient substance abuse treatment facilities.

Currently, the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) entrusts local agencies throughout the state to review sites for outpatient drug treatment centers. In New York City, that task falls to the Department of Health. In July Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, Chair of the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee, excoriated DOH for ignoring community opposition and recommending approval of a site at 2632 East 21st Street – a “totally inappropriate” location without parking, near schools and in a residential building with young families. At Assemblyman Cymbrowitz’ urging, OASAS took the unusual step of overriding DOH and denying the Sheepshead Bay site.

The bill — which State Senator Diane Savino (D-Brooklyn) will sponsor in the Senate — would amend the mental hygiene law by requiring the DOH and other local units throughout the state to solicit and include community input as part of their assessment of proposed outpatient drug treatment centers. In the city, that input would come from the community board where the facility would be located.

In a letter this week to DOH Commissioner Thomas Farley, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said that if DOH had paid attention to community concerns, “it is likely that your agency would have recognized the significant quality-of-life issues that led to the site’s eventual denial.” He said the recent case indicates “clear vulnerabilities in the existing procedure for reviewing outpatient substance abuse facilities.”

“I cannot overstate the importance of these outpatient facilities, but appropriate placement is essential,” he said. “This common-sense legislation would ensure that the community is afforded the opportunity to provide input on the establishment of a chemical dependence facility in their area. It would also help to keep channels open among the service provider, local governmental unit, OASAS and the local community to assure a fully transparent process that remains sensitive to the needs of everyone who is impacted by these facilities.”

Community Board 15 will hold their monthly meeting tonight, at 7:00 p.m., in the faculty dining room (U112) of Kingsborough Community College (2001 Oriental Boulevard).

Here are the zoning items being considered by the Board:

  • 288 Dover Street - An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of an existing two-story dwelling
  • 129 Norfolk Street - An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a one-story dwelling into a two-story dwelling

If you live near any of these locations and are concerned about its effects on the community, the Community Board meeting is the place to get more information and voice your objections.

There will also be time to hear residents’ concerns and discuss various committee reports, and elected officials may be in attendance.

Community Board 15 will hold their first meeting after their summer recess tomorrow night, at 7:00 p.m., in the faculty dining room (U112) of Kingsborough Community College (2001 Oriental Boulevard).

It’s a full slate of zoning items, with seven buildings around the community on the agenda.

Here are the applications being considered by the Board:

  • 2472 Coney Island Avenue – An application for the reduction of the required parking spaces for an ambulatory diagnostic treatment healthcare facility.
  • 151 Coleridge Street – An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family dwelling.
  • 2660 East 27th Street – An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family dwelling.
  • 134 Langham Street - An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family dwelling.
  • 177 Hastings Street - An application for a special permit to allow a two-story rear enlargement of a single family dwelling.
  • 3779-3861 Nostrand Avenue – An application for a special permit to allow a physical culture establishment within an existing commercial building.
  • 2413 Avenue R - An application for a special permit to all the enlargement of a single family dwelling.

If you live near any of these locations and are concerned about its effects on the community, the Community Board meetings is the place to get more information and voice your objections.

There will also be time to hear residents’ concerns and discuss various committee reports, and elected officials may be in attendance.

The Manhattan Beach Community Group is also holding their first fall meeting tomorrow night, at 8 p.m., at P.S. 195 (131 Irwin Street). They plan presentations by their board’s Nomination and By-Laws committees that may impact the future direction of the group.

2632East21

The proposed location for First Steps to Recovery

The state agency charged with approving drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers has reversed course, choosing to reject a controversial clinic slated for East 21st Street after initially allowing the project to go forward.

The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) on Friday officially denied First Steps to Recovery permission to move from its current Brighton Beach facility to an expanded location in a residential building at 2632 East 21st Street.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, called the move a “bold and unusual” step for the agency, and declared it a victory for the community.

Cymbrowitz, along with Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo and neighbors of the building, led the fight against the state after they initially shrugged off responsibility to the city’s Department of Health. Cymbrowitz agreed with neighbors that a residential building on a narrow residential street was no place for an alcoholic rehabilitation center like First Steps to Recovery.

“The location was completely unacceptable,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said in a press release. “This wasn’t a case of NIMBY [Not In My Back Yard]. The same night CB 15 rejected this proposal they approved another treatment center elsewhere.”

The owners of the clinic first approached Community Board 15 in November, under the instruction of OASAS to gain approval. The Board denied the facility on the grounds that it was an inappropriate location. However, Scavo also took issue with the owner’s behavior, which she considered rude – for which the owner has shot back, claiming discrimination.

The Board’s verdict was sent to Albany, but OASAS left the decision up to the city’s Department of Health – which never consulted the Board. Without notification to the Board or elected officials, the DOH granted temporary permits, and First Steps began renovating the new location.

Neighbors were the first to sound the alarm, which channeled back up through Scavo and Cymbrowitz, and on to Albany, ultimately leading OASAS to reverse the DOH’s decision, and leaving Cymbrowitz promising legislative changes to how such facilities win approval.

He is working on a bill that would mandate the New York City Health Department to take community objections into consideration when evaluating sites for outpatient substance abuse facilities.

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