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A .22 cal rifle similar to the one pictured above, was recovered near Truman High School today.

Photo by David Greene

A police officer removes the bloody clothing of the victim who was shot inside 1760 Andrews Avenue.

By Dan Gesslein

    Cutting $10,000 might not be a lot for Mayor Bloomberg but it could be a death sentence to community boards throughout the borough and the city if those proposed cuts are enacted.

    All of the city’s 59 community boards are facing a $10,000 cut to their budgets. This comes after decades of a frozen budget that did not increase with the costs of living.

    “These types of cuts will be devastating.”    Carmen Rosa, district manager of Community Board 12.

    The capital budget for each board will be cut to $180,000. These funds are to pay from everything from phones, computers, supplies, research expenses and employees. Rosa is only able to afford one staffer at $20,000 a year.

    “Community boards have not received an increase since 1986,” said John Robert, district manager of Community Board 2. “We’re scraping the barrel. It’s almost impossible to deliver our charter mandated services.”

    Community boards are frequently the only game in town when it comes to resolving community issues. Frequently call 311 with little results. District managers constantly call officials from city agencies from police to sanitation to housing frequently talking to the commissioners.

    “Community boards are still the grass roots way to go out into the community,” said Fernando Tirado, district manager of Community Board 7.

    In 1999, when Amadou Diallo was gunned down by four street crime officers, the captain of the 43rd Precinct reached out Community Board 9 District Manager Francisco Gonzalez who in turn gathered community leaders with police officials and helped defuse the situation.

    Community boards advocate the needs to City Hall in terms of capital projects and services and such small scale issues as to where to put a traffic sign near a school.

    One major battle that shows the need for community boards was the decade plus fight to clean up the vacant and contaminated Hexagon Laboratories. After the company abandoned the site near Boston Road, it was soon discovered that underground tanks had leaked chemicals into the soil. Rosa and Board Chairman Rev. Richard Gorman fought city and state officials who denied taking responsibility for the cleanup. The site was so contaminated and dangerous with homeless lighting fires on the site, that the FDNY had created an evacuation plan should a fire start at Hexagon and create a toxic cloud.

    Councilman James Vacca as district manager of Community Board 10 held the Buildings Department feet to the fire when developers try to skirt the zoning laws and build illegal structures in the community. He said the proposed cuts would hurt the boards’ effectiveness.

    “We’re being crippled by this,” Gonzalez said.