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BY KAITLYN MEADE | Borough President Scott Stringer announced the new appointees to Manhattan’s community boards on April 1, including five new members of C.B. 1.
C.B. 1’s new members range from a small business owner to a former board member and cover three of Lower Manhattan’s neighborhoods.
“It’s a nice diverse group,” said C.B. 1 chairperson Catherine McVay Hughes. “It’s great to have some fresh, new blood on the board and get some new perspectives.” Two are residents of the Seaport, two are from Tribeca and one lives in Battery Park City.
The Seaport has been struggling to rebuild since Superstorm Sandy, and few have been as active in addressing the needs of the area’s businesses as Marco Pasanella.
Pasanella, who owns Pasanella & Son, Vintners in the South Street Seaport, has had a diverse career that includes designing housewares, writing for the New York Times and teaching at Parsons — so a move into politics is not unusual. Pasanella lives with his wife and son near his shop at 115 South St. and is an advocate for the Seaport and its businesses.
In a phone interview with Downtown Express, Pasanella says he has three stages of goals for the Seaport, the first of which is “to get neighborhood business up and running after Sandy. The next goal is that over the next couple of years, the Seaport will be under construction, particularly the Seaport mall.” This will drastically change the character of the neighborhood while it is going on, and Pasanella wants to make sure that the neighborhood’s interests are represented. His longterm goal is to make sure that it retains its “strong character” and becomes the destination that drew him to live and work. “It’s a place that everyone seems to gravitate to,” he said.
Another Seaport resident, Jason Friedman, is an architect with Joseph Pell Lombardi & Associates who received his B.A. in Architecture from Syracuse University in 2002. He and his wife also began Stitch’T, a home-based business that creates quilts out of vintage T-shirts.
His expertise in architecture and business will be useful, especially in the historic Seaport district, said Hughes.
New Tribeca reps are also bringing their knowledge and experiences to the board. Elizabeth Lewinsohn has a background in policy analysis and homeland security which she used as director of policy & plans for the N.Y.P.D. Counterterrorism Bureau, and as volunteer policy analyst for Gov. Cuomo and volunteer advisor for State Senator Daniel Squadron, who represents much of the C.B. 1 area. In an email, Lewinsohn said she got involved in the community board because is excited about local government issues from “regulation of public space to landmark protection, education, and construction,” as well as school overcrowding and budgetary constraints.
Lewinsohn is currently a member of the Jewish Community Project, Friends of Hudson River Park and Hudson River Park Mamas. “With the deterioration of Pier 40, it is important that the Park Trust receives support from community members as well as from the City and State,” she said of her involvement.
Sarah Currie-Halpern, also a Tribeca resident, is a business woman and environmental proponent who has served as vice chairperson of the Solid Waste Advisory Board of Manhattan since 2007 alongside board chair Hughes.
“April is Earth Day, so it’s great to have someone to provide that perspective,” said Hughes, who noted that Currie-Halpern was also a board member of the New York League of Conservation Voters and Earth Day New York.
She has a B.S. in Business Administration from Boston University and is the founder and president of SAC Marketing, a communications consulting firm.
Kathleen Gupta will be returning to the board after serving on C.B. 1 from 1983-1993 after years as a public member.
A longtime resident of Battery Park City, she co-founded the Liberty Community Gardens in B.P.C. in the ‘80s and received Battery Park City Community Service honors in September of last year. She also recently retired from 23 years as chief development officer at the Henry Street Settlement House.
Gupta represented Downtown on the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s committee on the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and has donated several personal items to the museum to help tell the story of her neighborhood during 9/11 and its aftermath.
The new members are mostly filling vacant seats, although one member was not reappointed due to poor attendance.