Westerville's city staff members have been scratching their heads this month over an unusually small pool of applicants to serve on city boards and commissions.

Westerville's city staff members have been scratching their heads this month over an unusually small pool of applicants to serve on city boards and commissions.

At the end of this year, there will be 15 vacancies on its various boards and commissions, according to clerk of courts Mary Johnston. In 2006, the city received 29 applications; last year, there were 39.

So far this fall, only 12 people have filed applications.

"I don't know if it's just that we haven't been advertising enough; in the past, we've sent out postcards and we opted not to do that this year because of the costs associated with that," Johnston said. "I hope it's just a matter of getting the word out."

City council chairwoman Diane Fosselman said she thinks not sending postcards to residents has resulted in a lower number of applicants.

"I think they catch more people's attention, so this is very frustrating," Fosselman said.

Janice Dunphy, who has served on the Recreation Advisory Board for seven years, and on the Senior Center Board, said the work has helped her learn more about her community.

"It's an honor knowing that I've helped our city a tiny bit," Dunphy said. "For the (recreation advisory) board, we meet once a month and attend park dedications, and we are each assigned three parks that we go to and talk to residents, to see if there's anything they'd like added or taken away."

Johnston said the deadline to apply for boards and commissions is Oct. 31. Fosselman said the city needs to know who will be filling the vacated seats in order to bring those people up to speed on issues affecting Westerville.

"We need to make these appointments in December so they will be ready to start attending meetings in January," Fosselman said.

Vacancies will be open for:

Two four-year seats on the planning commission.

Two four-year seats on the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA).

Three three-year terms on the Recreation Advisory Board.

Two three-year terms on the Uptown Review Board (URB).

One three-year term on the Personnel Review Board.

One three-year term on the Income Tax Review Board.

Three three-year terms on the Shade Tree Commission.

Fosselman said it is more important for applicants to have an interest in the community than to necessarily have strong professional credentials.

"Really, what these volunteers are doing is being a representative of the residents of Westerville," she said. "The city has its engineering department to make sure things match up to the code -- applicants don't have to be architects, engineers, or attorneys; they just need to have an awareness of the development of Westerville.

"We're looking for people who have a feel for the character of our community and can represent its citizens by providing input."

Applications can be obtained by calling Johnston at (614) 901-6410, or on the Web at www.westerville.org.

lrice@thisweeknews.com