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By Colin Mixson
Battery Park City residents are finally getting a small measure of the local representation they’ve demanded for years after state lawmakers ratified Governor Cuomo’s two neighborhood nominees for the Battery Park City Authority’s board of directors last week.
Cuomo’s nominees, Martha Gallo and Anthony Kendall, were appointed just a few weeks after the governor signed legislation introduced by former state Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou requiring the Battery Park City Authority’s board to include two neighborhood residents.
Gallo, the Chief Information Officer at AIG, already served on the BPCA’s board for six years prior to her resignation in April last year, depriving her fellow BPC residents of local representation for more than a year until her recent reappointment.
Kendall is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Mitchell and Titus — which bills itself as the largest minority-controlled accounting firm in the nation — and a West Street resident.
Gallo has a long history of involvement in local community issues, serving as co-president of the BPC Parents and Neighbors Association from 2002–07, but Kendall is a relative unknown to locals, according to Community Board 1 Chairman Anthony Notaro, although he said the ledger-keeper’s credentials look promising.
“Never met him, or heard his name. He’s completely new to me,” Notaro said. “But on paper he sounds like a good addition to the board.”
The board’s new resident members were installed following the resignation of former BPCA board chairman Dennis Mehiel and board member Hector Batista, who were both serving with expired terms, which meant Cuomo was able — though not required — to replace them.
Shortly after the governor signed into law the bill mandating local representation on the board, six local lawmakers — including state Sen. Brian Kavanagh, Congressman Jerold Nadler, Borough President Gale Brewer, assemblywomen Deborah Glick and Yuh-Line Niou, and Councilwoman Margaret Chin — signed a letter asking Cuomo to immediately replace two sitting board members with expired terms with residents. The group applauded the governor’s two nominees.
“I’m sure Ms. Gallo and Mr. Kendall will bring an important perspective to the Board’s discussions,” Kavanagh said.
Mehiel stepped down following six years on the board, during which he presided over repairs to the community in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and pushed forward the controversial scheme to axe city Parks Enforcement Patrol officers in favor of private security guards contracted through Allied Universal.
He was also the Authority’s only board chairman to also have himself appointed to a staff position as CEO, a move he defended at his final board meeting prior to his resignation.
“That was, I think at the time, really the right thing to do,” he said. “[Through] my experience on a previous board, I had learned that by the time things come to the board an awful lot of what can happen or not happen will be talked about and understood.”
George Tsunis, whom Cuomo appointed to the BPCA board last June, will take over as chairman of the board, while BJ Jones, formerly president and chief operating officer at the Authority, will shed his COO position to become president and CEO.