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Date: November 17, 2011
RE: Battery Park City Authority Terminations
I was President and CEO of the Battery Park City Authority from May 1999 to June 2005. I am shocked and dismayed at the heartless and unprofessional manner the present leadership used to dismiss dedicated employees in an “Emotional Blood Bath” of the type perpetrated by third world potentates.
I worked with many of the people who were terminated and I can tell you that they were all dedicated, hard-working public servants, talented in their own fields. We worked as a team to create the vibrant community of Battery Park City. You can see the results of our work everywhere you look in Battery Park City from the parks, to the schools, to the museums, to the libraries, to the artwork. From the residential and commercial buildings which are the result of revenue-generating development deals to the community events and M/WBE program. To fire them without notice, without severance and without benefits would be harsh had they been fired for cause. Under these circumstances, it is disgraceful. The administration has put a mark of shame on BPCA’s otherwise great history. The Battery Park City Authority has always represented “the greater good” of public service. This horrible act reflects poorly on the Authority and is a disservice to the people of New York State and New York City the Authority represents.
Westchester County recently announced potential layoffs and let their employees know that they would each be contacted by the Human Resources department as to what their benefits, options going forward and how it would affect them. This is how government should act under an austerity program — not just say good bye.
The development of the 92-acre site was overseen by Authority staff who had the vision and the initiative to make the development a crucible to test new ideas. Staff engaged brilliant architects and designers well before the City and the GSA had initiated their Design Excellence Program. The Authority’s sustainability program and ground-breaking Green Guidelines became a model for the rest of the City and throughout the world. The Solaire, the first building to be built under the Guidelines, was the first sustainable high rise residential building in the country. The Authority’s diversity program was a model throughout the State.
After the September 11 attack many of the individuals fired were “First Responders.” They helped thousands of people escape the horror of 9/11 by moving them into boats, ferries and other watercraft before thinking about their own safety and evacuating to New Jersey. They were involved in the Rescue, Recovery and Rebuilding of Battery Park City and the entire Downtown.
To encourage companies to stay in BPC they developed a security project that typified Battery Park City’s mission: to create a desirable and profitable development site while creating desirable and brilliant public space. Authority staff mediated between the wants of the developers and the needs of the public. The elimination of nineteen positions in addition to the eight who left last year through the State’s buy-out program, I believe, nullifies the Authority’s ability to do that and demonstrates the current Administration’s lack of understanding on how to do it.
It is true that Battery Park City is reaching full build-out and elimination of staff is eventually inevitable. However, the Authority is currently involved in construction projects and negotiations. Elimination of knowledgeable staff and institutional memory is inconceivable. The reliance on outside consultants to do work that staff once did will eliminate any financial savings — the stated goal of the firings.
The celebration of full build-out once it is accomplished would have been a positive end to this chapter of development. Treating the staff of Battery Park City responsible for its success like criminals is instead a shameful end.
I hope that the Board, in its infinite wisdom will rectify this travesty.
Honorable Timothy S. Carey