Community Board 13 finally has a new district manager.
More than eight months after the last district manager resigned, the board that represents Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Gravesend, and Seagate has hired Eddie Mark, a former CB13 chairman, to fill the position
Mark, a sign maker by trade who has lived in Coney Island for more than two decades, said he could hardly contain his excitement about the appointment, because he has big plans to modernize the board and its image.
“I definitely want to get us out there on social media and on the board’s website,” said Mark. “It’s a changing environment. We want to get more young people involved, and people from different ethnic backgrounds. These are our future leaders.”
Mark served as chairman for a pair of two-year terms between 2010 and 2014, and said he feels like he is volunteering in various community events “seven days a week.” But he thinks he will be able to get more done through his new position — because now he is actually getting paid to do what he is passionate about.
“As a district manager, I have more connections with city agencies and local groups,” Mark said. “I had that access as chairperson, but I was a volunteer. I had to go to work all day and then work on that. Now, being in a position where I can get paid to help this community, that’s a great advantage for me.”
Mark served as chairman during Superstorm Sandy, and believes that dealing with flood resiliency issues and ongoing struggles related to the Build It Back recovery program will be among his biggest challenges.
He also cited the proposed development at the Trump Village Shopping Center and the importance of dealing with the site’s contaminated soil as concerns. But Mark said his biggest challenge will be making sure that each neighborhood within the community board’s purview gets the equal attention it deserves.
The CB13 district manager position has been empty ever since Chuck Reichenthal retired on Jan. 1 — after 22 years in the job — because of a dispute over the handling of his accrued paid leave. Paying for Reichenthal’s unused vacation days when he finally forced the board to delay hiring a replacement.
Mark’s time as chairman coincided with the end of Reichenthal’s tenure, and Reichenthal said he thinks Mark can do the job well, as long as he understands the toughest parts of the role.
“I think if he works at it and he takes in the advice of the right people, he can be a very good district manager,” said Reichenthal. “He needs to know he’s dealing with a constantly shifting city bureaucracy. Nothing exists in a vacuum, and whenever you try to do something, you have to understand how it affects everyone else in the area.”
The toughest part of the job for Reichenthal was that the city had practically forgotten that Coney Island existed, according to the former district manager, and that he had to work to repair political divisions in the community.
Mark said the community owed Reichenthal a lot for his decades of work, but he hopes to build on that success and start his own legacy rather than just follow in his predecessor’s footsteps.
“I think it’s big shoes to fill, but I hope I’ll be making my own shoes to fill,” said Mark. “It’s good to know what happened before and appreciate it, because without him none of it would have been possible.”
The gap between district managers has left the community board somewhat isolated from local government, according to Mark, and that is something he plans to work on as soon as he starts in a few weeks.
“We need to reconnect with these city agencies and community organizations,” said Mark. “We’ve been on our own for a few months now. There is lots to do.”