A round of musical chairs at Community Board 8


Luke Szabados joined the staff of Community Board 8 Tuesday as a community coordinator after board members voted to approve the hire Feb. 14.

Szabados previously worked as a community liaison for the buildings department, where he coordinated with other city agencies to resolve complaints and help communities navigate the daunting maze of rules in the city’s building and construction code.

He takes over the community coordinator role from Tania Ochoteco, who left CB8 in November to begin a new job at the University of Connecticut.

The board also approved a $2,802 salary increase for community associate Pablo Romano, which the Feb. 14 resolution states will ensure his compensation is “comparable with other community associates in the Bronx.”

Romano’s salary still falls short of the average base salary for full-time community associates in the Bronx, which was $55,089 last fiscal year, according to The Riverdale Press’s analysis of city payroll data.

Both resolutions were unveiled at the end of a marathon meeting that took place on Zoom last Tuesday. The board moved into executive session to discuss the hiring decisions and other agenda items, emerging finally at about 10:15 p.m. to hold their vote on the staff changes. There is no videorecording of the final few minutes of meeting.

Romano has worked for CB8 since December 2019, and has lately been running the show more than usual after district manager Ciara Gannon departed for Bronx borough president Vanessa Gibson’s office earlier this month. She now serves as director of the borough’s 12 community boards.

After filling one vacant position, CB8 is now setting out to recruit candidates for another.

Most of the city’s 51 community boards hire three full-time staff to run their operations. A district manager and two associate- or assistant-level employees is a typical configurationt.

District manager salaries vary widely across the city, reflecting the heterogeneity in the boards themselves. Bronx community board 12 had the highest paid district manager last fiscal year with a base salary of $138,746, according to city payroll data.

CB8 last gave raises to its three staff members in September 2021, when members voted to increase the two junior employees’ salaries by 3.5 percent, citing their “ability to meet myriad of challenges, especially this past year during the pandemic.”

Spalter has appointed a search committee consisting of CB8 vice chair Bob Bender, as chair, and CB8 members Omar Murray and Julie Reyes to lead the hiring process for the new district manager. The job is posted on the city’s careers site and will also be advertised on hiring sites and media outlets.

In a statement to The Riverdale Press, Bronx borough president Vanessa Gibson said Gannon brings a “wealth of knowledge” from her five years as CB8’s district manager.

“We are excited to see Ciara’s leadership in this role, providing crucial support to our twelve boards,” Gibson said in a prepared statement.

Szabados will meanwhile undertake training in his new role in the coming weeks.

He and CB8 have already become acquainted through their on-and-off correspondence about buildings department issues in the community district.

In his former role, he recently supplied the land use committee with information about illegal tree-cutting in Riverdale’s special natural area district and made specific recommendations for what neighbors should say when calling 311 to report a violation.

He also assisted in arranging for a presentation from buildings department borough commissioner Scott Pavan to the economic development committee in January. Pavan briefed the committee on the agency’s Small Business Support Team, a new initiative that will advocate for merchants and small business owners making alterations to office and commercial space in New York City.

Abigail Nehring is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.


Luke Szabados, CB8, Community Board 8, Ciarra Gannon, Laura Spalter, Pablo Romano,