The average age of NYC community board membership just got lowered with the addition of 16 and 17-year-old members.
A bill, primarily sponsored by Councilman Ben Kallos, was adopted by the City Council on June 11, and will give the boards a younger voice on local issues.
“As a young member of my community, all I really felt that I could do was sit on the sidelines,” said Jon-Michael Provetto, who was appointed to Community Board 10 in April and sat in on his first meeting on Thursday, June 18. “As I got older, I began to realize all of the changes were being made throughout the neighborhood. That’s when I asked myself, ‘how can I get involved and help the community?’”
Provetto, who also joined the Youth and Education Committee and is also considering joining Parks and Recreation, will now make recommendations on such matters as the approval or denial of liquor licenses, urban planning matters, recreation and budgeting.
He will also be playing close attention to the neighborhood’s housing and zoning laws.
Since his appointment in April, he has been mentored by board chairman Martin Prince.
“The passing of this bill is a very positive step – because it realizes that young individuals like myself are making a difference in their communities,” said Provetto. “It paves the way for new political members and instills confidence in them that they can be the future of community boards.”
“We welcome these young members and we need youth on our community boards again,” said Ivine Galarza, district manager at Community Board 6, who recalled when community boards in the Bronx boosted older teens during Fernando Ferrer’s tenure as borough president from 1987 to 2001.
“Since government is not taught in high school, it is imperative that the high school students of our community have the opportunity to start young,” she said.
Galarza also said that she looks forward to the training orientation on Monday, July 20 and that come September, this change among New York City community boards will be in full force.
Councilman Ritchie Torres, who was elected to office in November 2013 as the youngest member of the City Council, sponsored the resolution and was thrilled about the bill’s passing.
“I am elated to see teenagers joining their local community boards,” said Torres. “The recent change in state law, supported by a City Council resolution, has allowed for a new group of teens to not only learn about local government from hands-on experience, but take an active role in decision-making in their neighborhoods. I look forward to seeing more high school students join their local community boards in coming years.”