Shari Hyman, president and COO of the Battery Park City Authority, resigns as of Sept. 30, 2017
Shari C. Hyman, the president and chief operating officer of the Battery Park City Authority, will be leaving the BPCA at the end of September. She has been at the Battery Park City Authority for four years. Benjamin Jones, the vice president of administration at the BPCA, will serve as interim president while a search is conducted for Hyman's replacement. Hyman is leaving the BPCA to become Vice President and General Manager at Westfield World Trade Center, the largest shopping mall in Manhattan.
After conducting a search, the Battery Park City Authority Board of Directors will choose the next president.
Hyman's tenure at the BPCA has been marked by many accomplishments and also by controversy. In announcing her resignation, BPCA Chairman Dennis Mehiel said that the accomplishments included "record amounts of new, free, high-quality community programming; a range of vital capital projects completed on time and on budget; ever improving relations with the community at large; a 'AAA' bond rating and reduced over-all budget; and an inclusive approach to comprehensive resiliency planning."
Mehiel also lauded Hyman for assembling "a first-class team of professionals who run the day-to-day operations of the Authority."
However, the Battery Park City Authority during Hyman's tenure also faced criticism over a number of decisions that were made in the last four years. They included the award of contracts at North Cove Marina to entities that had no vested involvement in the community and little or no experience in running a marina; a $272,000 study of purported improvements to South End Avenue that many members of the Battery Park City community condemned as unneeded and counter-productive and a study of Wagner Park, supposedly to improve its resiliency but with suggested changes that many people in the community opposed as a transparent attempt to turn Wagner Park from a beloved community facility into a source of revenue.
Gov. Cuomo appoints three new members to the Battery Park City Authority Board of Directors
The Battery Park City Authority Board of Directors is supposed to have seven members, but since April, following Martha Gallo's retirement from the board, it has been limping along with four members.
On June 14, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced three new appointments: Catherine McVay Hughes, former chairperson of Community Board 1; Louis Bevilacqua, a senior counsel at the law firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft; and George J. Tsunis, an attorney, real estate developer and hotel operator.
On June 15, six local elected officials sent a letter to Gov. Cuomo stating that the nomination of McVay Hughes to the board was "heartening" in light of her many years of service as a community leader but that they were "extremely disappointed to learn the appointments will continue to leave the board without a single Battery Park City resident."
The officials pointed out that "The BPCA Board makes decisions that influence the daily lives of thousands of residents, who would provide an important perspective otherwise lacking in Board deliberations."
They asked that the nominations of Bevilacqua and Tsunis be rescinded and that residents be appointed in their place.
The letter was signed by New York State Senator Daniel Squadron, U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Yuh-Line Niou and City Councilmember Margaret Chin.
The New York State governor proposes, but the New York State Senate disposes. Although the governor did not heed the letter from the elected officials, his nominees could not become official until the senate had approved the nominations. When the vote took place on June 20, Sen. Squadron of the 26th Senatorial District, which includes Battery Park City, voted against Bevilacqua and Tsunis. He was joined in a "no" vote on Bevilacqua by 16 of his 62 Senate colleagues and on Tsunis, by 14 "no" votes.
"That's a pretty substantial number of 'no' votes for what's typically viewed as a formality in the Senate," said Zeeshan Ott, spokesperson for Squadron.
Because the new appointees are filling out the terms of previously appointed BPCA board members who have since left the board, the expiration dates for their terms are staggered. Tsunis' term will officially be up in June 2020. McVay Hughes' term will expire on Dec. 31, 2020, while Bevilacqua could serve until February 2022.
However, in practice, many Battery Park City Authority board members continue to serve past the official expiration dates of their terms.
A vote in the Senate on June 21 should change the future make-up of the Battery Park City Board of Directors, but not for awhile. After many years of effort, Squadron was able to announce that the Senate had passed his bill to mandate that at least two Battery Park City Authority Board of Directors appointments be residents of Battery Park City.
The bill, shepherded by Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Yuh-Line Niou, had previously passed the State Assembly.
"It's critical that the Governor sign this legislation and ensure we have residents on the Authority Board," Squadron said.
The New York State legislature has now gone into recess for six months unless it is called back for a pressing matter. In the meantime, the Assembly will send the BPCA bill to Gov. Cuomo for his signature and he will have 10 days from the time it reaches his desk to sign it - or not.
— Terese Loeb Kreuzer
News and Events
New York State Senator Daniel Squadron and New York State Assemblymember Deborah Glick speaking at a rally in Battery Park City urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that would place at least two Battery Park City residents on the Battery Park City Authority board of directors. (Photos: © Terese Loeb Kreuzer 2017)
A meeting of the Battery Park City Authority Board of Directors,
chaired by Dennis Mehiel. (Photo © Terese Loeb Kreuzer 2016)
Justine Cuccia, a Battery Park City resident and founder of Democracy4BPC.org, speaking at a rally in Battery Park City on July 6 urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that would place two Battery Park City residents on the Battery Park City Authority board of directors when openings next become available. (Photo: © Terese Loeb Kreuzer 2017)
Downtown Post NYC
Battery Park City rally urges Gov. Cuomo to sign a bill that would place BPC residents on the Battery Park City Authority Board of Directors
A rally organized by Democracy4BPC.org and attended by City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, New York State Senator Daniel Squadron and New York State Assemblymember Deborah Glick called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that would put two Battery Park City residents on the Battery Park City Authority board of directors. The rally, attended by around 100 people, took place July 6 on Esplanade Plaza, just south of North Cove Marina.
"We need the people who live here to have a voice in how the community is governed," said Justine Cuccia, a founder of Democracy4BPC.org. At the present time, no one on the Battery Park City Authority board of directors actually lives in Battery Park City.
The bill requiring that two members of the seven-member BPCA board of directors be residents of Battery Park City passed the New York State Assembly before it was taken up by the Senate, where Squadron was its champion. It now needs the governor's signature to become law.
Under the aegis of Democracy4BPC.org, some Battery Park City residents campaigned for months to gather signatures to present to the governor.
Squadron said that the petition made a difference. "You got more signatures than we could have imagined," he said. "It was noticed in Albany, it was noticed by the Authority."
Assemblymember Deborah Glick who, with Assemblymember Yuh -Line Niou, saw the bill through the Assembly, explained that not all bills get sent to the governor's desk at once, and that he has not yet received the bill for his consideration. "People should ask the Governor's Office to request the bill so he can sign it," she said.
Cuccia said that the community needed to "let the governor know that we're not going to go away — we're not going to keep quiet. We're going to keep on fighting until we have democracy in Battery Park City."
— Terese Loeb Kreuzer