BY ERICA MAGRIN
Community Board 1 has a new chairperson. As of July 1, Anthony Notaro replaced long-time chairperson Catherine McVay Hughes after the latter declined to run for a third term. Notaro has big shoes to fill, as McVay Hughes has worked in public ser-vice in Lower Manhattan for a quarter of a decade.
However, his background as the vice-chairperson of CB1 and head of the Battery Park City committee speaks to Notaro’s experience.
“I have been on the board for 15 years,” said Notaro. He ran unopposed for the position, as his one-time challenger Paul Hovitz, co-chair of the CB1 Youth and Education Commit-tee, opted instead to run for vice-chair.
Though there were claims of a “unity ticket” for Notaro and Hovitz, Notaro refutes this. “I voted for Paul and I think he’ll be a great vice-chair,” he said. “But every officer has won on their own. Everyone decides individually. We don’t have a ‘ticket’, like a Democrat or Republican party, everyone votes themselves.” Hovitz ran against the Tribeca Commit-tee chairperson, Elizabeth Lewinsohn, for the vice-chair position, ultimately winning the election with 27 votes, while Lewinsohn received 13.
“I’m very excited about being the new chair,” Notaro said. “I have a lot to live up to. Our former chair was a very accomplished supporter of our community. Catherine had a legacy of how to rebuild our community after 9/11.” While speaking about challenges fac-ing Lower Manhattan, Notaro remarked on McVay Hughes’s instrumental leadership at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks. Since then, he said, times are changing in the community. “Now we live in a post 9/11 world in Lower Manhattan. We have had massive develop-ment, which is wonderful. Lots more business is coming in, and there are benefits and im-pacts. Now we have to deal with the impacts of it, like to our instructor, the impact of de-velopment,” he said. “We will be planning for resiliency. How can we prevent and protect for the future?”
Much of that effort will be directed at the development and redevelopment of the South Street Seaport.
“In Lower Manhattan, events that have caused impact are 9/11, and all of the impacts that followed after that,” he said. “Then there was a large move from being just a central busi-ness district — the population has doubled in the last 10 years.” And while talking about the main goals he has as chairperson, Notaro takes a very inclusive approach. “Some of the basic things [to tackle as chairperson] are the population growth and continuing de-velopment of more housing units. These are the challenges. We need more schools seats. Even congestion on the sidewalk, traffic. These are very important in terms of supporting everyone,” he said. “I don’t have specific answers – not everyone has all the answers, but it’s important to have specific questions. I plan to engage all of the board and other devel-opers. What can we do? How do we plan? How do we prioritize things?”
Notaro, 64. has given years of volunteer service to the community board while also head-ing multiple committees. “I think my goals will be to hopefully help in terms of engaging more people on the board and prioritizing real issues that we have to tackle,” he said. “I see myself as helping to set out a strategy and help remove obstacles in our way.”