With roughly 1,200 followers, the open community forum has become a hub for community concerns, neighborhood events and breaking news.
“It is important to note that we recognize the importance of not existing in a vacuum,” said Kathy Masi, Glendale Civic Association president and Facebook page creator. “It is also very important that a civic maintain a reciprocal relationship with the entire community which it serves.”
Thomas Bell, the 104th Precinct community affairs officer, noted the importance of Masi’s community involvement and cites the open forum of communication as a crucial element for a safe neighborhood.
“She is vital to keeping us informed with things that people are reluctant to coming forward about with her site,” he explained. On many occasions, Masi and users of the page have relayed useful information from the site to police, according to Bell.
While he says the police do not use it to locate crime in Glendale, he does however agree that the site is useful to the precinct.
“If it’s something that’s police related, we’re informed officially,” Bell said, however he said that the precinct, “hopes community leaders will let you know if something is relevant.”
Assemblyman Mike Miller cited the debunked homeless shelter rumor, spread by the Civic Association page back in early October 2012, as one of the negative aspects to following posts on an open forum like Facebook.
“That site caused people to protest,” he said, recalling the petition generating thousands in opposition of the project and the uproar from local civic leaders and elected officials.
It was believed that Wilner Realty Management had plans to leaset the building to an unnamed non-profit contractor who planned to convert the property at 78-16 Cooper Ave. into a homeless shelter, but plans never materialized.
“So there are negatives to that page as well,” he said.
Although Miller said the site could be viewed as a breeding ground for gossip, he recognized the positives to posting on pages like the Glendale Civic Association's account ultimately outweigh the negatives.
“The civic page is used by a lot of people in the community, mostly upper Glendale,” Miller said. “It definitely brings people together because they go on and know about something happening in just a matter of minutes.”
As one of the elected officials leading the fight against the speculative homeless shelter on Cooper Avenue, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley recognizes the significance of social connection in Glendale.
“Social media has made it even easier for people to make positive changes in their community,” Crowley said. “The Glendale Civic Association’s Facebook page is an invaluable source for residents, and I’m proud to work with them to improve the community.”
State Senator Joseph Addabbo said he wished he had social media outlets like Facebook when he was in the grassroots of his political career.
“Kathy is very active and that’s great, and you find others are also getting into the social media aspect of civic involvement,” Addabbo said. “That is a vehicle I never had when I was a civic leader for nine years when we went door to door with fliers.”
In full support for utilizing social media websites within groups like the Glendale Civic Association, Addabbo said there is nothing more than a simple follow up to debunk any falsely posted information.
“The homeless shelter may have been a rumor, so we just went out and confirmed there was no story,” he said. “When they see it on that site, then they call their elected officials and inquire about an issue so it gets people engaged and that’s great.”
Masi’s noted her group was responsible for generating more than 4,000 signatures against the possibility of the shelter, sparking a new age in community involvement.
“Going cyber has brought many ideas and community situations to the forefront and given the Glendale community an opportunity to speak out,” Masi said.