New District Director takes the reins of Community Board 9 • Brooklyn Paper
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Crown Heights Community Board 9 officially has a new District Director, after six years of operation without him.
Newly hired district manager Dante Arnwine got to work on March 22, implementing his plan to restore the reputation of the notoriously controversial council.
“I can’t wait to renew his reputation,” he told Brooklyn Paper. “It’s no secret that this community council hasn’t had a district director for six years, so I really want people to know that there is good leadership here, this community council is going to be active. On all fronts.”
As an officer, Arnwine will be responsible for managing the board’s records, conducting business in its Nostrand Avenue district office and scheduling its meetings, among other administrative duties. New York City’s 59 community councils act as a street-level intermediary between local residents and government agencies, and intervene on issues such as bike lanes, liquor permits and land use changes. lands.
Arnwine’s hiring is the result of a year-and-a-half-year process, led by President Fred Baptiste, who re-ignited the long-standing search for a District Director after taking the presidency in July 2019.
“It feels good,” Baptiste said. “That’s the understatement of the year.”
The board search committee looked at 142 applicants and ultimately landed on Arnwine, a Tennessee native with experience in both city council and the housing preservation and development department.
“What I think sets him apart is probably his interview skills,” Baptiste said of Arnwine. “He came in thoughtful, respectful of the board, but had some ideas of what he could bring to the board.”
Previous attempts to fill the post have been hampered by legal proceedings local activists and caused rifts among board members who could not reach a consensus on a candidate.
Arnwine says he wants to prioritize making the board more accessible and technologically savvy, which he was forced to do in part because meetings went online during the pandemic.
“One of the most important things I mentioned in the interview process is to make the board tech friendly,” he said. “Right now we do almost everything through Zoom, through phone calls, so I really want to find a way to make the community board friendly for everyone.”
Arnwine is also keen to make his presence known as District Manager at Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Although he lives in Queens, he says he’s been looking for an apartment in the neighborhood and has been walking the streets of its neighborhoods for the past few weeks to learn about the vibe, its people and its local traders.
“Walking around the neighborhood has been very helpful,” said Arnwine. “One thing I want to do is let people know that there is a district manager here, and my job here is to connect people who are interested in that district with the resources provided by the government. “
Arnwine’s arrival is particularly timely, because the civic panel faces the biggest upcoming project in years: 960 Franklin Avenue Rezoning, which aims to bring a multi-tower development with more than 1,500 apartments on a plot of land on Franklin Avenue adjacent to the cultivation houses of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
The rezoning is currently on hold due to a trial during virtual hearings, but once it picks up, Arnwine says he wants to make sure community members have their voices heard.
“With this developer coming in and not asking for their opinion, it’s not welcoming, it’s a little dishonest,” he said. “I think in the future the community council will be the voice of the community.”