A few minutes with North Bellmore Civic Councils new president Sarah Chun:
When did you decide to start the North Bellmore Civics Council, and what are the reasons?
[Sarah Chun, president of NBCC]: I decided to start the North Bellmore Civic Council sometime between late August and early September of this year. For a couple of years I watched as residents made complaints about a variety of issues, but after heavy storms in mid-August, shocking pictures and complaints of significant street flooding started popping up from residents within a one-mile radius of each other. The need for community organization and better connection to local government was clear. I sat down with members of several local groups, started building relationships with elected officials and businesses, and began submitting requests to respond to various community needs.
What perimeters have you set for the council to operate and function within? From what border or avenue, to what other border or avenue?
Our main focus is on the area north of Sunrise Highway within the USPS zip code 11710, and/or encompassed by the North Bellmore School District or the North Bellmore Fire District.
What will be the charter or focus of the new council?
NBCC’s goals are to bridge the gap between residents and local government, focusing primarily on quality of life issues, beautification and safety.
Do you see yourself as being distinct from the North Bellmore Civic Association?
Sure, we’re new and different. NBCC is working closely with North and South Bellmore organizations such South Bellmore Civic, Bellmore Community Clean Up and Bellmore Preservation Group to “Make Bellmore the best it can be,” and it’s quite a unified front; I’m not sure NBCA had the same opportunity 10 years ago. [Earlier], NBCA … did make some fantastic contributions to the community, which we would like to celebrate and preserve, such the clock tower on the southeast corner of Jerusalem Avenue and Newbridge Road; we recently had a large county sign removed that spent years blocking the clock tower, and are working to have the lights on either side restored.
The NBCA has addressed “quality of life” issues as dictated by resident concerns, such as new stores coming into the neighborhood, building or preventing new cell towers, the closing of schools, beautifying Jerusalem Avenue or identifying hang outs that bring property values down. Will the NB Civics Council be different in its topics of interest?
Fortunately, North Bellmore is a wonderful family-friendly community and most of our “issues” are generally “quality of life” concerns, so our efforts will be similar. We’ll continue to work with law enforcement and government officials to address concerns like graffiti, late night break ins to unlocked cars, potholes, and general maintenance/improvements, while working on clean ups and beautification. As the challenges evolve, so will our efforts.
It’s been said one community can have more than one civic association. Can the civics council co-exist with the civics association?
Absolutely. Active neighborhood organizations are vital to preserving the best interests of their community. Many of our most noteworthy neighboring hamlets and villages have multiple active civic organizations; the Town of North Hempstead website lists at least 10 civics organizations for Great Neck alone, and our neighbors in North and South Merrick have at least four.
What types of persons do you look for to join the board, those with solid contacts or relationships with government officials, both public and internal to the agencies? Activists? Those possessing financial acumen?
Financial acumen, backgrounds in activism and solid relationships with officials are excellent qualities for board members, but they aren’t requirements. They are only beneficial if the participant is motivated by their dedication to our community, especially since the position is unpaid. We’re ultimately searching for well-rounded members who are vested in their community.