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BY COLIN MIXSON
Renters living at the massive Gateway residential complex lost a key booster in the struggle to extend their rent stabilization benefits on Oct. 5, when resident Glenn Plaskin announced his resignation as president of the Gateway Plaza Tenants Association.
The Gateway resident spent a decade working to promote the welfare of his more than 4,000 neighbors, but when an unusually large crop of would-be advocates stepped up to serve on the tenant association’s board this year, Plaskin saw his opportunity to hand off the burden to a new crop of volunteers — and he’s not looking back.
“After 10 years, it’s been a huge effort for me, and with so many people wanting to help, I just felt like maybe it’s time for me to take a break,” said Plaskin.
The tenant leader’s resignation came as a shock to neighbors, who he addressed just a few days earlier at a meeting to elect new board members on Oct. 2, speaking enthusiastically about the prospect of extending Gateway’s rent stabilization benefits, and making no mention of stepping down.
“At the meeting he didn’t say anything about resigning,” said Gateway resident Tammy Meltzer. “He was full of energy and enthusiasm for the accomplishments of the tenants association, so I was very surprised by his resignation.”
Plaskin said he’s “confident” that the renewal of Gateway’s stabilization benefits — which would require the Battery Park City Authority to reach an agreement with Gateway landlord LeFrak before the current deal expires in 2020 — will be achieved with or without him, but there are plenty of Gateway residents who would sleep better at night known Plaskin was at the helm.
“He gave us all these tremendous assurances and he’s not there to back up what he said,” said Gateway resident and Community Board 1 member Tom Goodkind. “It’s an obvious shock. It leaves everyone in the lurch.”
Neighbors, fellow board members, and elected officials have since reached out to Plaskin pleading for him to stay on with the association and see the stabilization renewal effort through.
“His history and knowledge of Gateway is highly valuable, and we are losing a great advocate with his departure,” said Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou. “I hope he reconsiders his decision to step down, especially considering the number of votes he received in the recent tenant-leader election.”
But Plaskin said he’s had enough of the unpaid gig, but that he’s leaving the residential complex’s fate in good hands.
“Stabilization is much bigger then Glenn Plaskin,” he said.
Plaskin — an author and celebrity profiler who’s interviewed Nancy Reagan, Audrey Hepburn, Al Pacino, and Donald Trump, among numerous other household names — joined up with the tenants association back in 2007, where he displayed a talent for courting big-name politicos to support Gateway’s rent stabilization efforts.
He organized swanky lifetime-achievement galas, which honored NYC notables including former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and one-time Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, while ensuring that when Gateway called, the heavy-hitting honchos picked up the phone.
“We created the events partly to recognize their achievements, but also to get their support,” said Plaskin.
In addition to successfully advocating for an 11-year renewal of rent stabilization benefits in 2009, the tenants association under Plaskin convinced LeFrak to fund a desperately needed $7.3 million renovation project that replaced aging windows and climate control equipment throughout the building, in addition to fighting the landlord on a hated pet policy that would have forced out some of Gateway’s furrier tenants.