The government of a small community like New Paltz depends on community members to devote some time to a variety of boards. Service on volunteer boards allows certain functions like application reviews to be performed by those who have a vested interest in the future of the community. Members meet with neighbors who might be unfamiliar, and work together toward a common goal. New insights into the workings of the community, as well as new relationships among its residents, often result from this service.
Membership on some boards requires formal training, and opportunities for that training are provided periodically. In other cases, the training is more an informal sharing of knowledge by more experienced members.
Appointment to any of the below groups is made at a public meeting, after an interview that is also usually held in public. Due to the fractured nature of New Paltz government, those interested in any of these positions should either email a letter of interest to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, depending on which elected group votes on the appointments to that board or commission. All Village residents are Town residents and can apply for Town volunteer positions; Village trustees are currently exploring ways to allow all Town residents to serve on Village volunteer boards, but right now this varies by board.
The following boards and commissions have openings at this moment, and most have a modest time commitment.
Affordable Housing (Village): review applications for apartments that are rented at below-market rates according to local law
Assessment Review (Town): decide on grievances for property taxes
Bicycle-Pedestrian Committee (joint Village and Town): recommend ways to improve the local transportation network for those not in cars
Ethics (separate Village and Town): only meets when a complaint is filed that a municipal employee or elected official violated the ethics code
Environmental committees (separate Village and Town): the Environmental Policy Board in the Village has a slightly different mandate than the Environmental Conservation Board in the Town, but service on either would provide chances to dig into these local concerns
Historic Preservation (separate Village and Town): either group could be a good fit for anyone interested in local history and preserving it, including the recommendation of local landmarks; the Village’s commission is also charged with oversight of an historic district, with a second likely to be approved next month
Landlord-Tenant Relations (Village): provide education to landlords and tenants about their responsibilities and rights, and mediate disputes when requested by both parties
Planning Board (separate Village and Town): despite the name, members of the Planning Board spend their time ensuring that new construction complies with current zoning and environmental regulations, rather than planning for future zoning or growth
Public Access (joint Village and Town): this committee is tasked with overseeing the local access channel on cable television
Zoning Appeals (Village): decide on requests to have requirements of local zoning waived for a particular project
Older meetings for many of these groups can be viewed on YouTube, which can give a sense of how they are run and what’s expected of members.