Gravesend woman filming community board for people who can’t make it to meetings

By the people, for the people: Gravesender films community board meeting for home-bound, seniors

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Finally — a community board meeting you can watch over and over again!

The excitement never has to end now that Gravesender Clare Kopelakis is filming Community Board 15 meetings and putting them online for locals who cannot make it to the monthly gatherings. The citizen journalist felt pressed into service because the board’s Manhattan Beach meetings are so far from her Gravesend home — now she hopes to inject some fresh blood into the group by availing a wider audience to its very existence, she said.

“I don’t think half of the people in my immediate neighborhood even know it exists,” said Kopelakis, a self-avowed avid reader of this paper. “I want to see more people involved in Community Board 15. It’s very narrow opinions there. It’s not a wide cast of characters. My neighbors don’t even know about it.”

The board holds meetings at Kingsborough Community College, but that’s too far for many Gravesenders, Kopelakis said. Getting to that bastion of democracy, nestled on the eastern tip of Manhattan Beach, is a roughly 20-minute drive for residents living in more central parts of the district — and by the time the meetings end, many older folks already need to be in their pajamas, Kopelakis said.

“My issue is with getting there at 7 pm — you usually catch me in my feety pajamas watching TV. I’m not a night person, and a lot of elderly people are not,” the 60-year-old Kopelakis said.

For the people, Kopelakis recently captured videos of board members’ reports and of Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay) talking about pressing issues such as area roads’ disrepair and an unpopular mayoral plan to re-zone portions of the neighborhood. She posted the video on Facebook for her friends to watch, and it has gotten more than 200 views so far, she said.

One viewer has lived in Sheepshead Bay for 10 years but had no idea she was even allowed at the meetings.

“I didn’t really know that it was possible,” said Lori Birnbaum, who connected with Kopelakis on Facebook. “I assumed that it was for politicos.”

But the civic shindigs are open to all, and holding the meetings at Kingsborough is just a cost-saving measure, Scavo said.

“Kingsborough Community College, out of the goodness of their heart, gives us that room,” said Scavo, also a Gravesend resident. “If we had to go to different locations, where would we go? If you had to rent out a public school, you would have to pay for that.”

Kopelakis plans to keep filming the meetings when she can make it, but she hopes the board will begin rolling its own cameras and posting footage online.

“I would love to see it put on YouTube,” she said.


Theresa Scavo giving an update.

Posted by Clare Kope on Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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