Leading any community organization can be both fulfilling, incredibly creative, and also taxing too. And I never thought I would do it. But as an author and journalist, I ultimately found it invigorating to transfer my communication skills into a new volunteer-driven venue.

So from 2007-2017–I became actively involved in our neighborhood’s advocacy group (Gateway Plaza Tenants Association), serving as its President for six of those years.

Over a decade, our remarkable board proactively built relationships with the 4,000 tenants–and interfaced with our political leaders, the Battery Park City Authority, and the ownership of our complex–which is the largest residential building in scenic Battery Park City.

We created special events, featuring Lifetime Achievement Awards for such figures as NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Senator Daniel Squadron, Congressman Jerry Nadler, Senator Chuck Schumer, and more. It was a mob scene of enthusiasm.

My successor, The Bright Light of the Gateway Plaza Tenants Association: Karlene Wiese, a 30-year veteran

There were also community forums, rallies, periodic meetings with management, regular tabling in the lobbies, and incredible holiday events, with hundred of tenants and political leaders in attendance. 

All of our various missions–the continuance of rent stabilization and the renovation of the complex infrastructure–were chronicled by our community newspapers, including The Broadsheeteven TV coverage of our movement to protect our dog population.

Our web site documented all press coverage to preserve a history of our group (though perhaps a technical mishap wiped all the historic media links and photos from the revamped web site.)

By the time I voluntarily left my role as President in the fall of 2017, our Association was at the peak of its influence.

There were letters of support from the likes of Hillary Clinton and Corey Booker and appearances with everyone from U.S. Senators, to the NYC Public Advocate, Borough President, Comptroller,NYC Fire and Police Commissioners, state officials, including our new charismatic Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou, and beyond.

We can only hope that the glory days of Gateway will return, with the new board focused on tenant advocacy issues.

Fortunately, all the improvements to the building–new windows, new heaters, new electrical systems, new intercoms, new roofs, security measures and more–were overseen by the board I was proud to lead.

And fortuitously, we also left behind all the terms needed for the continuance of rent stabilization.

Indeed, we must, and will, have an extension of the stabilization agreement that protects long-time tenants, which includes a population of the elderly, disabled, retired persons, and a legion of young families with a growing number of children, who together add to the diversity and stability at Gateway.

Former BPCA Chairman Dennis Mehiel did a superlative job in absorbing the needs of our community and working with us to attain a better quality of life. His successor, George Tsunis, is doing an equally top-notch job in his role.

They understand, as we do, that  there is no community in NYC that is more congruently unified than Battery Park City.

Gateway Plaza In All Its Glory

Gateway pictured from the Jersey Coast

This is partly due to the terrors of 9//11, and its lingering effects to this day.

And sadly, some of our Gateway residents have died from the effects of 9/11 (like my wonderful neighbor Patti), while others are currently  battling cancer and other physical illnesses. No matter what, for those of us who remained here, Gateway is home.

Board Members Who Become True Friends

And surrounding us is every amenity. Battery Park City is truly in renaissance, demonstrated by the wonders of both Brookfield Place and The Oculus, two of the jewels of the neighborhood.

So all in all, when it comes to Gateway, it’s not just a “rental,” but a close-knit community, the centerpiece of South End Avenue.

In fact, for anyone looking for an apartment , I always encourage them to move to Gateway, because of its proximity to the water, accessibility to shopping, and most important, the sense of camaraderie.  It’s like living in a little resort, with people truly knowing one another.

Incomparable Board Member Peg Wallis

In fact, I’ve written a book all about it.