Sitdown Interview with BPCA President Gayle Horwitz
Gayle Horwitz serves as President of the Battery Park City Authority. The Downtown Alliance recently sat down with Gayle to ask about her first year at the Authority.
You’ve been President of BPCA for 7 months now. What’s the experience been like?
I have been at BPCA since last June and was named President at the end of October. It is an exciting time for Battery Park City as we are nearing completion of our Master Plan. We have several major construction projects underway that will further enhance life here in Downtown Manhattan. In the North Neighborhood, we are completing the construction of a Community Center which will be operated by Asphalt Green and this summer we will be converting our Ballfields to a green synthetic turf which allow field use year round. Down in the South neighborhood, we are busy restoring the Pier A site for future occupancy by the Poulakakos‘s new Atlantic Garden. These projects bring us to the final stages of our Master Plan. A great community has been built here and our task in the next chapter of our history is to move from being a real estate developer to a real estate owner and manager. I look forward to the next chapter and working with the great community that has flourished on our 92 acres.
What did you learn about Battery Park City that you didn’t know before?
I did not know that our parks were completely sustainable. We have an incredible composting operation which allows us to take care of our parks without having to buy additional soil, etc.
I understand you were actively engaged during this winter’s bad snowstorms. What did you do?
I spent part of my childhood in upstate New York so shoveling snow is in my DNA. When I woke up on the morning of the blizzard, I got dressed like I was going skiing and my husband asked where I was going. I replied, “to shovel snow, of course!” I had heard about snow duty and wanted to help out and experience it first-hand. The staff didn’t know what to make of it but quickly gave me an assignment salting and sanding. It was a great day and I send a big shout out to all of the Parks staff for their incredible, hard work this winter.
What’s an undiscovered treasure in Battery Park?
I think everybody who has spent time here has a favorite spot or a favorite nook and cranny. Mine so far is the community garden right off of Albany Street. I missed it all winter. When you come down the ramp of the Rector Street Bridge you can’t but help to stop and “smell the roses” The gardens are amazing and so eclectic. Who would have thought that there by Route 9A such incredible plants, flowers, and vegetables can flourish? You have to check it out.
You brought one of your sons to the Downtown Little League season opening ceremony. Are you a Mets or Yankees family?
Ours is a Mets household.
What was your first job?
My first job in government was in Washington as a Lyndon B. Johnson Congressional Intern for a Congressman from upstate New York. The experience working for the Congressman set me in motion toward a career in government.
My first paying job was as a camp counselor. I also worked the night shift at a photo processing lab during part of the summer and during vacations while I was in college.
What’s on the horizon for Battery Park?
Everyone is very excited about the opening of the long awaited community center and Pier A. Additionally, we have some exciting projects on the horizon. We are looking to start a community composting program, as well as selecting a vendor to operate an ice skating rink.
How excited are you about Danny Meyer opening new establishments in your neighborhood?
I am very excited about all of the new dining options in Battery Park City as I know the community is as well. It will be hard to have Shake Shack so close and resist the temptation for milk shakes every day.
You’ve worked in government for 25 years. Why did you first enter the field, and what do you like about it?
I know it may be corny, but I like knowing that what I do matters. I like to help people and to make a difference. The other great thing about working in government for me has been that no two days are exactly the same. There is always some new challenge to sort through and that is exciting to me.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Unfortunately, I have a sweet tooth and chocolate is one of my favorite things.