Corie Sharples, left, and Liat Silberman have just been appointed to Community Board 1 with Vera Sung, who declined to provide a photo for this article.
An architect, a lawyer and a parent activist walk into C.B. 1
By Julie Shapiro
Community Board 1 is getting three new members this month, marking a year with relatively low turnover on the board.
The new members, all women, include a Seaport architect, a Chinatown lawyer and a Tribeca parent.
“We welcome these appointments,” said Julie Menin, chairperson of C.B. 1, calling all three of them “very good additions.”
Borough President Scott Stringer announced the appointments this week and said applications in Manhattan are up by 50 percent over last year. But in C.B. 1, the number of applications actually went down to 26 this year from 30 last year, said Carmen Boon, Stringer’s spokesperson. However, Boon added Board 1 has grown more diverse, with eight more women and three more African Americans than two years ago.
Anxiety was high among some current board members afraid of not being reappointed, but Stringer’s decisions were not much of a shakeup. Menin had warned repeatedly that attendance would be a major factor in the reappointments this year.
The longest-serving member to not be reappointed was Richard Kennedy, who was co-chairperson under former chairperson Madelyn Wils and lost the 2005 chairperson election to Menin. Kennedy, who has been on the board for about 17 years, declined to comment. It is unclear whether he reapplied.
The three new members are Corie Sharples, Liat Silberman and Vera Sung. Sung was appointed in consultation with City Councilmember Alan Gerson, while Sharples and Silberman are direct Stringer’s appointees. Borough presidents appoint all community board members, but councilmembers recommend half the members. Stringer has typically accepted all of Gerson’s recommendations.
Sharples, 43, is a founding member of SHoP Architects, the firm designing the East River Waterfront project, along with the General Growth Properties’ attempted overhaul of South Street Seaport. Sharples hopes to apply her architectural expertise to the Landmarks Committee — she will abstain whenever SHoP is the applicant — and she will also bring a parent’s perspective as the mother of two boys, ages 2 and 5.
“[The Seaport] has been a wonderful place for me to be and to grow my business,” Sharples said. “I wanted to give back.”
Also joining the board is Liat Silberman, 45, former president of P.S. 234’s P.T.A. Long a familiar face at the Youth and Education Committee meetings, Silberman hopes to continue fighting school overcrowding but also broaden her focus to preserving the community she found in Tribeca when she moved there with her husband and son in 2002.
“I live in the tiny village of Tribeca, and I want to keep the tiny village feeling,” Silberman said. “I want to welcome the newcomers into the tiny village.”
Silberman is an Australian native who has worked as a therapist and also has more than 25 years of experience reading Tarot cards.
The final new member is Vera Sung, 43, who works at a law firm her father Thomas Sung founded in Chinatown shortly before she was born. The law firm mainly serves the Abacus Federal Savings Bank, which Thomas Sung also founded to support Chinese immigrants like himself.
Sung is friendly with many local small businesses, and she hopes to help them through her work on the board.
“I don’t like to see empty commercial spaces,” Sung said. “It makes me feel sad. I want to see how we can keep people in businesses.”
Sung, who lives in the Seaport, was an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn before she joined her father’s practice.
Besides Kennedy, the other C.B. 1 members who were not reappointed are P.J. Kim and Kristen Wentrcek, who both joined the board recently. Wentrcek, a Lower East Side resident, had qualified for the board because she worked in Tribeca, but she left her job last summer and had to leave the board as well. Kim did not return a call for comment.