Downtown Express photo by J.B. Nicholas
Bill Thompson presides over his first Battery Park City Authority meeting March 29.
Is he B.P.C. chairperson yet? Yes he is
by Julie Shapiro
Promising transparency and affordability, Bill Thompson took over as chairperson of the Battery Park City Authority this week.
“My style is one that is very collaborative,” the former city comptroller said after the board unanimously elected him Monday morning.
While Thompson, 56, said the current board and staff “have done a great job,” he also hinted at changes he would like to see in the authority, including more frank conversations with the authority’s outside auditors, which would take place without authority staff present. Thompson also said he had already spoken to B.P.C.A. President and C.E.O. Jim Cavanaugh about not keeping any information from board members.
“Information should be shared with all board members, not just me,” Thompson said, perhaps referring to a flap last year when some board members did not get a letter about the state inspector general’s investigation of the authority. “I will make sure you all receive the same information, in a timely fashion, that I do,” Thompson promised board members.
After the meeting, Thompson, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last fall and is considering another run in 2013, said he is also committed to keeping Battery Park City affordable. To that end, Thompson is open to mitigating the upcoming ground rent renewals, which will dramatically increase the taxes many neighborhood residents pay. But Thompson has not taken a position on the specific plan that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver submitted on behalf of the residents, which would smooth out the increases over 15 years.
“Am I committed to any one thing? No, I’m not,” Thompson told Downtown Express. “But I think that maintaining affordability, not pushing people out over a period of years, is very important.”
Thompson said he expects to have a deal in less than six months.
When asked about his favorite place in Battery Park City, Thompson appeared momentarily at a loss.
“I like a lot of things,” Thompson said. “It’s the access to Battery Park City, not just for those who live there but for those who live outside that’s always made it very special.”
And the waterfront parks, he concluded, are hard to beat.
Thompson’s election on Monday was just a formality, as Gov. Paterson had already announced in February that Thompson would lead the authority. Thompson replaces James Gill, the former chairperson who resigned earlier this year, and Charles Urstadt, who acted as vice chairperson until the governor appointed Thompson.
The seven-member board is still one member short, as the State Senate has not acted on the governor’s appointment of Hispanic activist Fernando Mateo. Paterson may also replace Andy Shenoy and Lynn Rollins, whose terms expired in February.