Government / Politics

Community board greets new members

Angely Mercado

Community Board 2 members and staff met in Longwood on June 22.

Voting procedures and common courtesy among the topics discussed

New and currently serving members of Community Board 2 gathered for a retreat in June to get a better understanding of how they can best serve Hunts Point and Longwood.

The local board is one of the city’s 59 community boards serve neighborhoods in the five boroughs in an advisory capacity on issues ranging from education, housing and health to block party planning and street cleaning.

Board chair Dr. Ian Amritt, director of the Longwood-based youth counseling program UNITAS, led the discussion and training sessions during the four-hour retreat at St. Vincent de Paul Senior Center on June 22. He emphasized the importance of attendance and participation above all, and explained the finer points of voting.

“It is your right to vote yes, no or abstain,” Amritt explained. “Abstaining is also a form of voting.”

Stephanie Afum, one of six new members appointed to Community Board 2 by the Bronx Borough President in May, said she is prepared for the task of representing the neighborhood. Although Afum said she knew how community boards worked prior to the retreat, she found the explanations useful.

“It helped on the rulings, how you object and on all the new terminology”, she said, adding there is much happening in Hunts Point that could benefit from the input of residents.

“It’s a developing area, I see a lot of construction,” she said. “I see a lot of things that could come to this area.”

Amritt stressed board members maintain objectivity when voting, weighing only the information presented and not allowing personal matters to influence votes.,

Marta Rivera, Casita Maria’s director of programs and a board member for over 20 years, agreed new board members should be mandated to attend orientations to clarify conflict of interest and objective voting.

“They come to the first meeting and they’re introduced to the board, nobody knows anything about them”, she said.

Amritt urged civility between board members, saying they should “allow others to speak before they speak again.”

City Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo told the members that they are the most basic form of government for Hunts Point.

“You are our first line of defense for our community,” she said.

District Manager Salamanca said he hoped the retreat would help new board members begin participating in issues right away by speeding the learning curve.

“Some people, because they’re new, they think that they can’t speak,” he said. “But we want to hear their ideas from the very beginning.”

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