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Manhattan Community Board Applications Up This Year, With Harlem at the Top

By Emily Frost | February 12, 2016 2:08pm | Updated on February 14, 2016 7:20pm
 Manhattan Community Board applications rose by 12 percent this year, the Borough President's Office said. 
Manhattan Community Board Applications Up This Year
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MANHATTAN — Applications for membership to Manhattan's 12 community boards increased this year, with Harlem's Community Board 10 leading the pack. 

A total of 785 people applied to serve on the volunteer boards, which weigh in and play an advisory role on topics ranging from street design to liquor licenses to parks. 

That number figure represents a 9 percent jump compared to 2015's applicant pool. 

Every two years, the volunteers — who are appointed by their relevant City Council member and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer — have to reapply for membership. Applicants must live, work, study or have a connection to the community board they're applying to serve on to qualify. They also must have expertise in an area like preservation or small business management, a deep community knowledge or a unique and diverse perspective. 

Additionally, there were more new applicants this year, with 527 applications coming from people not currently serving — a 12 percent increase compared to last year. 

The applicant pool was more diverse, as well: 139 identified as black or African American, compared to 86 last year and 48 in 2014; 83 identified as Latino or Hispanic, compared to 79 last year and 38 in 2014; and 47 identified as LGBT, compared to 46 last year and 28 in 2014. 

Not only did Harlem's Board 10 have the most applications (103), it also had the largest jump in new applicants — from 48 in 2015 to 78 this year. 

Community Board 7, which represents the Upper West Side, had the most applications in Manhattan over the past two years, coming in second this year with 91 applicants, 69 of whom were new people. 

Community Board 4, which represents Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea, had the third most applicants at 73, 48 of whom were new. 

The applicants are vying for roughly 300 seats in total across Manhattan. Each board has at least 25 seats, with extras available when board members resign before their term is up. The borough president's office did not have information regarding the total number of resignations and thus the total number of seats available for this round. 

Brewer called the increase in applications "thrilling."

"When our boards' applicant pool grows larger and more diverse, all our neighborhoods benefit,” she said in a statement. 

The applications were available online for second time after their introduction in 2015, something 91 percent of applicants took advantage of this year, a Brewer spokesman said. 

Screening of applications and interviews will take place in February and March. Board appointments won't be announced until early April.