Local Leader Urges Civic Participation

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An active and involved community gets respect, and is also more likely to get its fair share of government resources as well as have an impact on local issues.

That was the truism emphasized by Neal Duncan, the president of the United Canarsie South Civic Association (UCSCA) during that organization’s November meeting.

Speaking to the group gathered in the auditorium at the Hebrew Educational Society, 9502 Seaview Avenue, Duncan urged them to continue coming out to meetings and making their presence known and felt.

“This is a place to effect change,” Duncan contended. “But we can’t do it by ourselves. We only can do it through crowds, by tons of people coming out and being represented at these meetings, because public officials come out here and look at the crowds and say, ‘This is an active community. We have to represent these people the best we can because they have a voice, they have a say come election time as to whether we keep our jobs.’

“If they come here and see five, 10 people, guess what they come away with,” Duncan went on. “So, we have to come out. You have to be part of the neighborhood. You have to be civic-minded.”

The November meeting has a larger crowd than usual because of a parking problem on one block.

Duncan made mention of that, noting, “It’s welcome to see all these new faces out here.”

But, he stressed, local residents can’t just attend one meeting because of a specific problem, then stay home. “It can’t be just that you have an issue and you come out for that,” Duncan urged. “You have to keep coming.”

Attending meetings does more than simply show that residents care, he added. Those who attend also get an inside track on “local issues that are driving this community,” Duncan said.

Among the issues that have been discussed in recent months, he told the group, were the rezoning of Canarsie, which was completed this past summer, as well as the medical waste transfer station that was proposed by one local developer for Foster Avenue.

“We hear about these at community board meetings and bring them back to you as representatives of the community, so that you can tell us whether or not you want that in the community, and we take it back to them,” said Duncan, who is a member of Community Board 18.

“We can change this neighborhood to be better,” he concluded. “We can improve the quality of life. But, we have to do it as a group. Let’s keep Canarsie strong. Let’s keep Canarsie clean. Let’s keep Canarsie thriving.”

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