UPPER WEST SIDE — If there was a popularity contest among Manhattan community boards, the Upper West Side's would win.
Community Board 7 — the 50-member volunteer board that weighs in on neighborhood issues ranging from bike lanes to preservation to business development — has received the most applicants of any Manhattan community board by far this year, according to the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, which fields the applications.
Seventy-eight new applicants applied to CB7 this year, more than double the number of the next-highest board, said Stephanie Hoo, press secretary for Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
CB4, which covers Chelsea and Clinton, had 30 new applicants, she said.
CB7 also had a high retention rate, with 21 current board members seeking to keep their positions, Hoo said. That means even more competition for the biannual reapplication process, with approximately half of the seats already filled with current members at any given time, officials said.
"CB7, on my home turf, is an incredibly effective and active board — and it’s exciting that so many people want to get involved," said Brewer.
CB7 chairwoman Elizabeth Caputo, who took the reins Nov. 1, said she wasn’t surprised by the heavy interest.
“I think we have a very engaged and active population on the Upper West Side," she said. "People are very civically minded."
Caputo credited a great publicity push by the Borough President’s Office and CB7, which announced the Feb. 1 application at meetings, tweeted about it on its @CB7Manhattan account and posted it on the board’s website.
Community boards have been seen as something of a launchpad for active members seeking office who don’t have a lengthy record in politics. Three three city councilmembers now serving the Upper West Side,— Helen Rosenthal, Mark Levine and Corey Johnson — all had leadership roles on their respective boards and referenced them repeatedly in their campaigns.
The strong interest stems in part from the results CB7 has been able to achieve, Caputo noted.
“It’s definitely a testament to the work and the resolutions," she said. "The number of applications is the result of a lot of people having faith in what we do."
Brewer appoints half of the new members, with the remaining appointees chosen by Rosenthal, Levine and Johnson. Membership is announced on April 1.
Caputo and other existing members don’t get to weigh in officially on the picks, but she said she will express the board's needs, including the desire for more members with expertise in education and preservation, to the elected officials.
“One of the big areas where we have a lot of need right now is getting people above 96th street to apply for the board,” she said.
The board’s coverage area spans from West 60th Street to West 110th Street, between the Hudson River and Central Park West.
“We have a lot of different viewpoints on our board," Caputo added. "We’re not a rubber stamp for everything our elected officials are doing."