Volume 20, Number 38 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | September 8 - 14, 201
BPCA’s Cavanaugh steps down to pursue private sector
BY Aline Reynolds
James Cavanaugh, C.E.O. and President of the Battery Park City Authority and Parks Conservancy, will be stepping down from his job at the end of the month.
After 30 years, Cavanaugh felt it was time to move on. “It’s been my plan for some time when I reached 30 years in public service that I’d retire… to do something in the private sector,” he said.
The state offered Cavanaugh a compelling early retirement package for his longstanding commitment to the public sector. During his time as C.E.O. and president since 2005, Cavanaugh has helped maintain the organization’s operating budget while the Authority has opened new parks and public facilities. Battery Park City has gained five million square feet of new construction since 2005, including new residential units, a school, a new park, and a library. B.P.C.A. spawned $228 million for the city in 2009, and another $400 million for the city and state since.
“As more and more people live here, and more buildings go up, it becomes more of a community,” he said. “I’m really lucky to be a part of that.”
Cavanaugh also helped initiate the $30 million renovation of Pier A. The B.P.C.A. just finished two of three phases of the construction project. Tenants will start moving into the building next fall. The 55,000-square-foot community center, which will be operated by Asphalt Green, will also be completed by January 2012. The center will be located on the basement and first floor of Battery Park City’s Liberty Luxe and Liberty Green condominium towers, on North End Avenue.
“It’s very satisfying to be here at the end of a very long process,” he said of the Pier A project.
Cavanaugh has also cultivated his rapport with B.P.C. community members and elected officials.
“We have a forged a closer partnership with residents, their elected leaders, and all of the stakeholders in this great community,” he wrote in his letter.
He will finish putting together next year’s budget in time for the November 1 start of the B.P.C.A.’s fiscal year.
The Board of Directors will vote on a new president/C.E.O. at one of its upcoming monthly board meetings. Gayle Horwitz, B.P.C.A.’s chief operating officer, will fill in during the interim period.
Those that worked with Cavanaugh wish he would stay on.
“I’m sorry to see he’s going,” said Anthony Notaro, chair of Community Board 1’s B.P.C. community center task force. “I think he’ll be missed.”
Notaro credited Cavanaugh for focusing on the residential growth of Battery Park City, which is nearing completion, and with enhancing the neighborhood’s quality of life. “The development of the area is pretty much done, thanks to him,” Notaro said. “He’s been very open and responsive, and a good listener” to the task force members, particularly during discussions about the design of the community center. “[The authority] worked collaboratively in allowing us to listen to the R.F.P.s and give our input on what we heard,” Notaro said.
The B.P.C. ball fields, which will be completed by next fall, was also “a good example of [Cavanaugh] listening to the community and understanding what [its] needs were,” according to Notaro, who was nominated by State Senator Daniel Squadron to join the B.P.C.A. Board of Directors. The Senate will take a vote on the board nominations in the coming weeks.
B.P.C.A. Chairman Bill Thompson also said he enjoyed working with Cavanaugh.
“He’s very collaborative and understands you can’t make unilateral decisions, that you have to work with people and be inclusive,” he said. “He’s done a very good job at B.P.C.A., and as he leaves he can be very proud of the work he did here.”
For Cavanaugh, the departure from B.P.C.A. is bittersweet.
“I’ll certainly leave with some regret,” he said. “It’s a great place to work and a great community. It’ll be hard to find another position that’s this professionally rewarding.”
Moving forward, Cavanaugh said he has had some “really positive discussions” with potential employers and expects to decide on a position in the next several weeks. Cavanaugh served as C.O.O. of B.P.C.A. for a year before becoming C.E.O. and President. Previously, he worked for ten years as the Supervisor of the Town of Eastchester in Westchester County, and as chief executive of the town government, where he oversaw $30 million annual operating budget serving a community of about 32,000 residents.