Elizabeth Caputowill take over as chair of the Upper West Side community board later this year
Elizabeth Caputo, a 20-year Upper West Side resident, infrastructure banker, dog-lover and community activist, was recently elected to be Community Board 7's new chair, replacing Mark Diller next month. She served as the vice chair, and is currently on the Parks and Environment and Business and Consumer Issues committees. Her first meeting as Board Chair will be November 6th.
Congratulations on the appointment to board chair.
Mark's are obviously big shoes to fill, thank you! There are a lot of issues I'm working on, like housing and transportation issues, and of course some new issues I'm looking to focus on. My goal would be to have people more involved in the community board, so we have consistently newer groups of people involved in the community board. I want to make that a priority. I would like nothing more than to see a wide variety of opinions. We tend to get a lot of people from one side, but I've learned there are multiple communities we don't get to hear from.
What are some new things you want to work on?
I want to incorporate social media, I think a lot of people in this community can be reached in that way, we have set up a Twitter account. Our job is to inform the neighborhood. I would hope our board generally makes informed decisions. I feel the more we can do to get people involved, the better. We also want to expand in the area north of 96th Street, at the Frederick Douglass houses in general.
What do you envision as your role with the city council?
We serve as an advisory committee to the city council. A lot of community issues start with us and then it will be Helen [Rosenthal's, the Democratic candidate for the Upper West Side council seat] job to make the legislation happen. I want the community board to be pre-active, rather than reacting. We are asked to rubber stamp a resolution agreeing with Senator X or Assembly Member Y, but that shouldn't necessarily always be the case.
What are some of the biggest issues on the Upper West Side?
Obviously housing issues are very important. We want to encourage responsible development but also encourage the Upper West Side as an affordable place to live for a variety of income levels. Tied into that is education and school issues, as well as creating more complete streets, which will hopefully happen with the new mayor.
Tell me about your experience on the environment and business committees.
I had my background in business. I ran a large civic organization. My job was to mobilize them. The challenge for me is to use that experience at a much more local level. I joined BCI and parks because they hit on two things near and dear to me. I believe in small businesses, and I also love the restaurant life in our neighborhood. I always go to get my prescriptions at Thomas Drugs. A lot of local businesses are getting pushed out, and if they go, the whole neighborhood will go. My father was ill a couple of years ago and they stayed open for him. I also have a dog, and I'm interested in keeping up with the parks because I frequent them so much.
What do you want to accomplish as Community Board chair?
I want people - whether it be a group of activists, a block association or a community organization - to say, 'wow, I got my issue resolved because Community Board 7 got involved.'"