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[media-credit name=”Photo By Terese Loeb Kreuzer” align=”aligncenter” width=”600″][/media-credit]BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER | On May 9, William C. Thompson Jr., chairman of the Battery Park City Authority, sent a letter to New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo tendering his resignation effective Friday, May 11. Thompson had been chairman of the B.P.C.A. since March 2010, when he was appointed by former Gov. David Paterson.
In his letter, Thompson gave no reason for his resignation. However, he has declared his candidacy for mayor of New York City — an office that he narrowly lost in 2009 to Michael Bloomberg — and he said in a phone interview that he was leaving the B.P.C.A. to devote more time to his campaign.
“I had contemplated resigning for awhile and I felt that this was an appropriate time,” Thompson said. “I think we’d gotten a number of things in place over the last few months, and I wanted to make sure that things were in a good way before we leave.”
Thompson added, “I think things are in a very positive place right now.”
In resigning, Thompson effusively praised the B.P.C.A., a New York State public benefit corporation that administers Battery Park City, a community he referred to as a blueprint for urban development.
Enumerating the accomplishments under his administration, Thompson mentioned the installation of artificial turf on the B.P.C. ball fields, the repaving of Murray Street and the restoration of South Cove. He also cited the long-awaited community center featuring two swimming pools and gym on North End Avenue, in addition to the “transformational” renovation of Pier A.
“I’m very comfortable that these projects are moving forward…quickly and that everybody will be very pleased when they’re done,” he said.
A former employee of the B.P.C.A. who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, was less laudatory of the Thompson regime, noting that both Pier A and the community center are overbudget and behind schedule. The source attributed some of the problems to the precipitous layoffs of 19 people late last year.
“The whole of Lower Manhattan was waiting for Pier A, and they come in and lay off 19 people — five of them directly involved with Pier A and the community center, both of which were going along swimmingly. Now, neither of those projects is done,” the source said. “Not only is neither project done, but all of the Board of Directors meetings are in executive session, and nobody knows what’s going on.”
The former employee also observed that the CityTime scandal — one of the largest mismanaged contracts that New York has ever had — took place under the helm of Bill Thompson and Gayle Horwitz.
Horwitz worked under Thompson as deputy comptroller when Thompson served as New York City Comptroller from 2002 to 2009. Subsequently, he brought Horwitz in to serve as B.P.C.A. president. Phyllis Taylor, the B.P.C.A.’s chief administrative officer, executive vice president and general counsel, had also worked as deputy comptroller under Thompson. Anne Fenton, Horwitz’s special assistant, had served as Thompson’s spokesperson during his last mayoral campaign.
“I leave behind a strong operation with an active board and solid management who, I have no doubt, will continue to build on the great success of the Authority,” Thompson said in his resignation letter.
In the phone interview, he elaborated, “I think that the people who came into Battery Park City are committed to Battery Park City. I anticipate them staying at Battery Park City.”
B.P.C.A. spokesperson Matthew Monahan said that Thompson’s departure would leave management and operations unchanged.
Gov. Cuomo will be charged with appointing the next chairman of the B.P.C.A. As of the week of May 7, Thompson hadn’t yet spoken with the governor about who the next chair might be.