Queens Borough Hall receives nearly 900 community board applications

Queens community boards
Queens Borough Hall received more than 1,800 community board applications during the Richards administration’s first two years. (QNS/File)

Nearly 900 applications from a diverse group of civic-minded individuals seeking appointment to one of the borough’s 14 community boards have been received this year, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards announced Monday.

It is the second most applications received in the office’s history, following 2021’s community board application process which saw a record-breaking 941 applications submitted.

The enthusiasm in the application process builds on reforms the office implemented last April in an effort to make community boards better represent the diverse neighborhoods they represent.

“Government must not only work hand-in-hand with the communities it serves in order to be impactful, it must also be justly representative of those very communities,” Richards said. “After yet another successful application process, I believe we’re well-positioned to build on the progress we made last year to diversify Queens’ 14 community boards and create a fairer, stronger borough for all our families. I am deeply grateful to all 884 individuals who stepped up and applied to serve their communities, and I look forward to working with all of them to carry Queens into the future.”

This year’s 884 applicants include 610 people who are not currently members of a community board — just shy of last year’s 698 new applicants, but more than double the number of new applicants during the 2020 community board application process — while 274 individuals applied for reappointment to a community board.

The borough president’s office began receiving applications in early January for two-year terms of community board service, which will begin on Friday, April 1. As part of Richards’ efforts to make the application process more accessible as well as safer amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, applications were once again simplified to a digitized and simplified format, one of the reforms put in place last year. In prior years, applications had to be prepared on paper and be notarized before they were turned in at Borough Hall.

The simplified process led to a significantly more diverse pool of applicants in 2021 than in years before, which enabled Richards to select 110 community board members who were diverse in terms of gender identity, age, race, sexual orientation, economic status and immigration status.

“Queens has never been closer to community board representation that is truly reflective of our borough’s diversity than it is today,” Richards said after the appointment last April. “Democracy is at its strongest when the voices of all the people it serves are elevated, a principle we are proud to strive toward with this new class of appointees.”

Community boards have a variety of responsibilities, including but not limited to land use and zoning issues. The boards have an important advisory role and must be consulted on the placement of most municipal facilities in a community. Applications for zoning changes or variances must also come before the boards for review.

The boards hold hearings and make recommendations about the city budget, municipal service delivery and other matters that impact their communities.

All Queens community board members are appointed by the Queens borough president, with half of the appointees nominated by the City Council member representing their community district. Each board has up to 50 unsalaried members who serve two-year terms. Each member is required to reapply at the conclusion of their term if they wish to continue serving on the board.