November 2017
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Livable Neighborhoods Training Travels to the Bronx

livable neighborhoods podium

In response to our 2010 Livability Survey, which found that Bronx residents were the least satisfied with their neighborhoods than other city dwellers, we went north with our highly regarded Livable Neighborhoods training program to more than 200 members of the twelve Bronx community boards.

Through a partnership with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, MAS provided hands-on instruction in understanding the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure—a highly technical review process that can be difficult for communities to navigate. Instructors included MAS staff and land use experts from the Department of City Planning.

Nowhere is the need for training and technical assistance more apparent than in the Bronx, where some community boards serve districts with populations as large as 167,000, greater than the population of small cities like New Haven, Connecticut. In our survey, Bronx residents identified key quality of life issues such as safety and access to open space as priorities, making the case for strong community boards timely. Community boards are our most basic form of local governance and are often a first point of contact for concerned residents. Increasing their capacity to respond to local need is essential to improving livability.

Borough President Diaz told Bronx board members he is committed to making them “the best in the city.” In addition to MAS’ land use training, the Borough President enlisted the help of Bronx Councilman Fernando Cabrera’s office and the New York City Conflict of Interest Board to provide board members with additional training on procedural topics. Bronx board members are eager to learn. Their dedication is a testament to the borough’s longstanding tradition of civic activism and neighborhood-based initiative.

The Livable Neighborhoods training program was created because community board members across the city are asked to make important decisions about local planning and land use issues with limited resources and access to professional planning expertise. Livable Neighborhoods helps fill that gap by providing access to the information and tools community boards need to make well-informed decisions. Since 2007, MAS has provided free training to hundreds of New Yorkers and more than one-third of the city’s 59 community boards.

This summer MAS will host our fifth annual Livable Neighborhoods training at Hunter College. This training will cover topics that range from using maps and census data, to community organizing, to historic preservation, to creating a neighborhood plan.