A Leader Who Presided Over Transformational Times in Lower Manhattan Passes from the Scene
Anthony Notaro, shown here presiding over a meeting of Community Board 1, which he chaired from 2016 through 2020.
Anthony Notaro, a Lower Manhattan community leader for decades and chair of Community Board 1 (CB1) from 2016 to 2020, died on December 30, after a years-long battle with cancer. He was 69 years old. A resident of Battery Park City since the late 1990s, Mr. Notaro joined CB1 shortly after moving to Lower Manhattan. In 2002, he helped organize the annual Battery Park City Block Party, which served as both a celebration and an affirmation of the neighborhood’s rebirth after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In 2003, he helped found the local Community Emergency Response Team. He was one of the leaders of the Battery Park City Homeowner’s Coalition, which in 2011 negotiated a $279 million rollback in future ground rent increases for condominium owners. The onetime president of the Battery Park City Neighbors Association, he also helped found Battery Park City Cares, a local charity, and served for years as a leader of the First Precinct Community Council, which facilitates dialog between the local police command and the community. As a member of CB1, Mr. Notaro not only chaired the Battery Park City Committee (before being elected to chair CB1 as a whole), but also served on panels that focused on planning and infrastructure, redevelopment of the World Trade Center site, the future of the Battery Park City ball fields, the successful effort to bring a branch of the New York Public Library to the neighborhood, and the development of the community center that became Asphalt Green.
His predecessor as CB1 chair, Catherine McVay Hughes, recalls that, “Anthony was a fighter for our community and against cancer. He is known to all for his love of Downtown, which extended from the Hudson River to the East River, and for his ability to bring our community together through his active, participatory listening, which assured that all stakeholders had a real voice in their neighborhood’s development.”
Above: Mr. Notaro collaborated with Battery Park City resident and community leader Rosalie Joseph on a range of community-service projects, including the Battery Park City Block Party and Battery Park City Cares, a local charity.
Below: Mr. Notaro accepting a ceremonial gavel from his predecessor as CB1 chair,
Catherine McVay Hughes, in 2016.
“During the build-out of the Battery Park City Community Center and ball fields—and its later transformation to turf—and again during rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy, Anthony dove right in to support community interests for the young and old, so that they had access, and in a timely manner,” Ms. Hughes reflects. “Under Anthony’s leadership, four years as vice chair of CB1 and four years as chair, he moved the resiliency process forward to protect the West and the East sides of Lower Manhattan, advocating for planning, funding and implementation to harden our coastal waterfront from both sea-level rise and storm surge. This long-term perspective will be a big part of his legacy. He also supported the community’s vision for a safer, cleaner, pedestrian-first Financial District.”
Longtime Battery Park City resident Robin Forst, a former chair of CB1’s Battery Park City Committee, reflects that, “Anthony was Battery Park City to so many of us. I met Anthony when he joined CB1. When I became chair of the Battery Park City Committee, I asked him to be my co-chair. Though new to the community, his interest—which over the years became dedication—was obvious. Anthony was a very good friend, a man who never said ‘no’ when asked for help. His commitment to service was enormous, whether to the Community Board, the First Precinct Community Council, the Battery Park City Block Party, Battery Park City Cares and of course, his family. His death is a terrible loss to all of us.”
State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou acknowledges, “it is with a heavy heart that I mourn the passing a compassionate and warm pillar of leadership in our community. Anthony has long been a thoughtful leader for Lower Manhattan, who never forgot the importance of locally engaging community members and showing kindness to everyone around him. His excitement for local issues and genuine energy made those around him strive to be better community members. Anthony provided countless contributions through his composed and steady leadership. I will miss his endless love for bettering our community, as well as his warmth as a dear friend and respected leader.”
State Assembly member Deborah Glick recalls that, “Anthony was a terribly kind and gentle man, who could be fierce in his defense of our community. Anthony served on CB1 with distinction, committed to ensuring that all voices in the community be given an opportunity to weigh in on the issues of vital importance to Downtown. He will be missed by all of us.”
City Council member Margaret Chin lauds Mr. Notaro as, “a colleague and a close friend, a leader and public servant, who dedicated more than 20 years of his life to the community, and who will be sorely missed.”
Battery Park City Authority president B.J. Jones laments, “the passing of a longtime Battery Park City resident, partner, and friend. We remember Anthony for his wisdom, kindness, and consensus-building approach, in a world where such traits are all too rare. Throughout his many years of dedicated service, Anthony was tough, but fair. And he never lost his sense of humor, or sight of the big picture. So we mourn, but also celebrate his life as a fighter and leader in a community he loved dearly—and one made better by his efforts.”
The current chair of CB1’s Battery Park City Committee, Justine Cuccia, recalls Mr. Notaro as, “an unfailingly courteous gentleman, kind and generous, who was still a fierce protector of and advocate for this community. In recent years, people knew Anthony as chair of CB1, but I am brought back to when I first met him—in the months after September 11, 2001. Whether volunteering with him for Battery Park City Cares, the Battery Park City Block Party, or at the Community Board, he was always a mentor, a leader and an inspiration. We need more like him.”
In late December, when it became clear that Mr. Notaro’s time was drawing short, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer issued a proclamation designating December 28, as “Anthony Notaro Appreciation Day.” The certificate says, in part, in an age of bravado, Anthony Notaro is a man who intuitively understands—and ably practices—the art of leading by listening,” and notes that, “he drove meaningful progress on transformative projects across Lower Manhattan by consistently fostering constructive input on the wide range of issues confronting this at-once historic, modern, and altogether unique community.”
The proclamation also acknowledges that Mr. Notaro, “excelled at both tactical and strategic leadership, paying daily attention to immediate concerns while never losing sight of the community’s long-term agenda,” and cites him as, “a dedicated mentor, incubating the next generation of community leaders who are now following the path he spearheaded, of transforming Lower Manhattan from a business district into a thriving residential community.”
In September, 2019, Mr. Notaro (left) joined a phalanx of elected officials and local leaders for a ceremonial ground-breaking at a new park in the Financial District.
In many of Mr. Notaro’s efforts, his close friend and collaborator was Gateway Plaza resident Rosalie Joseph, who remembers that, “September 11th brought Anthony and I together as neighbors who deeply cared about our community. Through the work we did together, and our shared love for Battery Park City, we became friends. Of all the efforts we co-founded or partnered on, including Battery Park City Cares, the Battery Park City Neighbors Association, the Battery Park City Community Emergency Response Team, along with countless events and gatherings, the most special to us was the Battery Park City Block Party, which we co-chaired for 15 years. I could not have done it without him.”
She continues, “through the years, I have seen first-hand his love for this community. Anthony spent more than 20 years tirelessly working and giving of himself for a better Downtown, and a better Battery Park City. My dear friend made a lasting impact on our lives, through countless accomplishments and many endeavors, which will always stand as a testament to his endlessly giving spirit.”
Ms. Hughes adds that, “although Anthony seemed happy running and attending meetings, his biggest smile was saved for his wife, Susan, who joined him at community events such as one for the South Street Seaport Museum on the historic tall ship Wavertree.”
Susan Nitahara, Mr. Notaro’s wife, says, “what I cherish and know best about Anthony is his passion and the life we shared. Family was first and foremost for him. He came from this large, loud, and incredibly loving Italian family, which gets together often. They love to celebrate most anything with delicious food—and always a single malt scotch for Anthony.”
She continues, “one of his favorite events was the wonderful Christmas Eve get-togethers, probably 30 people, in his uncle’s Brooklyn basement, to enjoy a dinner of seven fishes.”
“Anthony and I also loved to travel together,” she remembers, “with trips to China, Thailand, Israel, Jordan, Iceland, France, Italy, and Spain, among others. He used to pride himself on being able to ride various animals around the globe—a camel in Eilat, Israel; Icelandic ponies in the snows of Iceland; donkeys in Jordan, and swimming horses in the ocean in Jamaica. What I found amusing, however, is that I am the equestrian of the family, and Anthony was never much of a riding expert. But he thought he was, and that was all that mattered.”
“Cooking was another passion of his,” Ms. Nitahara adds. “We always had a Christmas party in New Jersey, on the second weekend in December for about 40 people. Anthony would cook a full, buffet-style meal. His food was always a hit. He was one of those people who could look into what I would perceive as an empty refrigerator, and whip up a wonderful meal.”
She concludes, “on a more personal level, Anthony was one of the smartest, most loving, and humble people I have ever known. It was an honor to have been his wife. I miss him so much, but have so many lovely memories.”
Earlier this year, as he completed his second term as CB1’s chair, Mr. Notaro told the Broadsheet, “leadership for me is about listening, learning and building teams. This transforms our role from simply advisory, to being a real partner with government entities. They respect our work and approach, and it makes our work more rewarding.”
Asked to reflect on continuing challenges for the community, he answered, “I’m only concerned if we don’t apply our skills and experience as we face the future. And the future will certainly present us with more challenges. Our district has faced terrorist attacks, a Superstorm, a financial crisis and now a pandemic. It may not have been easy, but CB1 has faced all of these with courage and optimism.”
In some ways, Mr. Notaro may have written his own epitaph when he reflected that, “as with most things in life, showing up and rolling up your sleeves will always be the best way to advance, and empowering others will get results.”
Eyes to the Sky
January 4 – 17, 2021
Early nightfall and late sunup beckon to stargazers before days lengthen
The last of the longest nights of the year are bookended by planet Venus taking final bows in early morning twilight in the southeast and planets Jupiter and Saturn poised at the edge of the southwest skyline in afternoon dusk. The latest sunrises of the year – 7:20am through January 10 – and early sunsets, around 4:40pm, motivate this stargazer to greet starry skies, mostly in short jaunts or from a window or balcony, during morning darkness and half-light, 6am to 6:50am, and in the afternoon from just after 5pm – 5:40.
Observing times suggested in the illustrations are for unobstructed views to the horizon. Begin viewing in twilight less than half hour after sunset. Even when skies are hazy, I have found that binoculars (mine are 10×42) bring the planets into view.
Since the great conjunction of the 21st, Saturn, 0.61 magnitude, has moved passed brighter Jupiter, -1.94m, and the space between the two is widening. On the 21st, Saturn set 11 seconds after Jupiter. Today, January 4, Saturn sets at 6:04:45pm; Jupiter follows 8 minutes later, setting at 6:12:39pm. Mercury may be too close to the horizon for successful viewing without binoculars.
Following nearly 15 hours of darkness, the morning star, brilliant planet Venus, -3.92 magnitude (the lower the number the brighter the celestial body), is easily spotted in the southeast from about 6:15am until nearly 7am, although the planet dims as twilight brightens. Venus rises at 6:01am tomorrow morning.
After catching the planetary trio in the west at dusk, get up early to enjoy the waning crescent moon and dazzling planet Venus in the east before sunrise. Read more.
After Jupiter and Saturn set, burnished gold Mars (-0.31m tonight, the 4th) comes into view rather high in the southeast. By the 10th, Mars’ magnitude dips to 0.00.
Wander the heavens, eyes to the sky, immersed in the dark mornings and nights with unique appreciation. Catch Venus, Jupiter and Saturn before they fall into the Sun’s glare. High riding Mars is slowly losing magnitude.
1) 250 Water Street Brownfield Cleanup Program – Update by Lawra Dodge, President, Excel Environmental Resources, Inc.
2) 250 Water Street, Draft Scope of Work for an Environmental Impact Statement (CEQR No. 21DCP084M) – Discussion with Howard Hughes Corporation*
3) Governors Island Draft Environmental Impact Statement – Discussion with the Trust for Governors Island
For access to Environmental Review documents, please visit the CEQR website and search by CEQR number:
250 Water St: CEQR # 21DCP084M
Governors Island: CEQR # 11DME007M
An End to Screen Time
City Announces Public School Admissions Changes with Significant Impact for Lower Manhattan
On December 18, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced that they were provisionally barring public middle schools (for at least one year, and possibly longer) from evaluating applicants based on academic criteria such as test scores, report-card grades, and attendance records, while permanently forbidding public high schools from giving admissions preference to students who reside with the same district as those schools.
Niou Joins Lawmakers Calling for Rollback of NYPD Unit
State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou has joined a coalition of elected officials calling on the New York Police Department (NYPD) to investigate and possibly disband the troubled Vice Unit, which has been plagued by allegations of bias and corruption in recent years.
Ms. Niou joined a bloc of State and City legislators, who co-signed a December 14 letter calling upon leaders of the State Senate, Assembly, and City Council to convene hearings and open an investigation into the Vice Unit, which enforces laws related to prostitution.
Their letter noted that, “this unit’s actions have cost the city over $1 million settlement fees in false arrests since 2014,” and that, “undercover police have consistently engaged in unethical and deceptive practices, including sexual violence and obfuscating police recordings, in order to earn overtime pay for making these low-level arrests.”
The Downtown Community is rallying around one of its own.
Tammy Oliver has worked since the late 1980s, serving thousands of children at P.S. 234, as well as at the after-school and Downtown Day Camp programs operated by Manhattan Youth.
In May, Ms. Oliver’s husband Joe (once a bus driver for Manhattan Youth’s Downtown Day Camp) suffered a stroke that requires him to have full-time home care. To cover this cost, Ms. Oliver is now working extra, part-time jobs (from 3:00 to 6:00 am, on weekends and holidays), in addition to her full time work at P.S. 234.
Both husband and wife are grappling with exhaustion, stress, and uncertainty. But many of the families who have benefited from Mr. and Mrs. Oliver’s work during the past 30 years are banding together by contributing to a GoFundMe campaign, to help pay for the care Mr. Oliver needs.
Non-Profit Outlines Plan for ‘Safe Haven’ Shelter on Washington Street
The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to create a homeless shelter at a historic building on Washington Street, in the Greenwich South neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, in partnership with a highly regarded non-profit, the Center for Urban Community Services.
“This facility will not for warehousing,” said CUCS’s chief operating officer, Douglas James. “We aim to move people from the streets to permanent housing.”
DOT Overrules Community Concerns about Delivery Bike Facility in Tribeca
The City’s Department of Transportation has ignored calls from Community Board 1 to address concerns of Tribeca residents before installing a cargo bike corral on Warren Street (between West and Greenwich Streets), to facilitate the use of powered bicycles when making grocery deliveries. To read more…
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