New members appointed to Community Board 1

BY Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Community Board 1 has three new members: a lawyer, a hedge-fund manager and a union executive. They range in age from 25 to 69. Two live in Tribeca, one in Stuyvesant Town on East 14th Street. The appointments, announced on Thursday, March 31 by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, were made by Stringer and by City Councilmember Margaret Chin. In selecting community board members, the borough president’s office tries to create a board that reflects the diversity of the neighborhood.

Each of Manhattan’s 12 community boards has 50 members, who serve two-year terms. Each year, half of the board members must reapply, as their terms expire. This year, Stringer’s office received 21 new applications for Community Board 1. In addition, 23 current members reapplied. Twenty-two of them were reappointed. The current members of Community Board 1 who will not be returning are Liat Silberman, Jana Friedman and Chelsea-Lyn Rudder.

Oliver Gray, 69, one of the new appointees, is associate director of District Council 37, a union with headquarters at 125 Barclay Street. Between 800 and 900 people work in the building, he said, and they are at work six or seven days a week.

“We’re part of the economic base of this community and feel we should be involved,” said Gray.

He also noted that DC 37 is “right on the edge of the World Trade Center site. Many of our people participated in different ways in helping to clean up the World Trade Center.” He said he was interested in working on a Community Board 1 committee “that deals with development of that site.”

Gray, who has a degree in city planning, said that he was also interested in zoning issues and in the community’s efforts to create adequate school space. Finally, he said, he was aware of the disparity between recreational opportunities on the east side and the west side of Lower Manhattan. “I live in Stuyvesant Town on 14th Street,” he said. “I ride my bike along the East River and around the Battery, through Battery Park City. I can see the difference when I get around by Battery Park.” Gray said he would like to work on recreational development of the underdeveloped areas.

Chow Xie, 25, is an assistant D.A. in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office. He has lived in Tribeca since he was seven years old. He graduated from P.S. 234, from Murry Bergtraum High School, from New York University and from Brooklyn Law School. “Education has been very important to me,” he said, “and I want that translated into other people’s lives. He is interested in serving on Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee and on the Tribeca Committee.

Commenting on his age (he is Community Board 1’s youngest member), Xie said, “I think I will be able to bring a fresher approach — looking at it from the point of view of someone who doesn’t have an entrenched stake. I’m able to keep an open mind. There will be limits to what I know, but I’m able to listen to different people. I’m never shy about asking questions. I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running.”

Paul Cantor, 49, has been a public member of Community Board 1 for the last two years. A hedge fund manager, he lives in Tribeca, where he serves as board president of his co-op building. As a public member, he has participated in the Quality of Life and Tribeca Committees.

He finds quality of life issues to be critically important. “Little things make such a tremendous difference in your outlook on the neighborhood,” he said, “its cleanliness, construction noise, all of that stuff.”

Cantor’s neighborhood has had problems with peddlers, who line Canal Street, and when the police come after them, migrate to neighboring streets, including the one where Cantor lives. “We’ve had times when we’ve had literally 50 or 60 guys on our block,” he said. “About 25 percent of the people in my building are young families and they couldn’t walk down the street with baby carriages and groceries. The First Precinct has done a really good job [of going after the peddlers],” he noted. Now there are still some, he said, but not in the numbers that were there previously.

As a public member of Community Board 1, he brought the problem to the attention of the Quality of Life Committee. He also serves on the First Precinct’s Community Council.

“There’s a lack of knowledge about what’s available and what can be done and how you can become active,” he said. “I think half the people in the community don’t even know that there is a Community Board and what they do.”

He said he has tried to get other people in his building involved in addressing neighborhood issues. “I’m doing all I can,” he said, “and I intend to do more, but I’m not going to take on every single issue. I can’t go to 20 meetings a month.”