Volume 74, Number 10 | July 7 - 13, 2004

Rabbi, cab driver, N.Y.U. student are new on boards

By Erica Stein

Since April, 10 new members have been appointed to Community Boards 2 and 3.

New York’s 59 community boards are the most local form of government in the city. Each board corresponds to a specific district or area — Community Board 2 includes Noho, Soho, Greenwich Village, the West Village, Chinatown, Little Italy and the Lower East Side; Community Board 3 includes the Lower East Side and East Village — and is made up of 50 unpaid members appointed by Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields. While Fields has final approval over all appointees, half of the appointees are nominated by the city councilmembers whose districts cover parts of the community board area. There is no limit on how long a member can serve on a community board, and half of each board is up for re-nomination every year.

C.B. 2 has four new members, ranging from a student to a restaurateur:

Among the new members is Michael Xu, who, according to District Manager Arthur Strickler, is the board’s youngest member. A graduate student at New York University, Xu was formerly a C.B. 2 public member. (Public members are not appointed to the board by the borough president, but participate in committee meetings). Xu served on the Youth Committee and is also a member of the Village Reform Democratic Club, a club close to Fields.

Galal Chater is a real estate attorney, whose firm, Chater & Paget, LLP, is located on 140 Broadway. His father is the owner of Mamoun’s Falafel, at 119 MacDougal St., which has been open 365 days a year since 1971.

Fellow restaurateur Philip Mouquinho has lived in the Village his entire life. Raised on Thompson St., Mouquinho currently lives in the West Village and has owned PJ Charlton, at Greenwich and Charlton Sts., since 1980. Growing up in the ’50s and ’60s, Mouquinho’s baseball coach was the late Tony Dapolito, owner of Vesuvio Bakery who died last year and was the city’s longest-serving community board member; so when Moquinho was approached in April by C.B. 2 member Lisa LaFrieda about applying, he said he jumped at the chance and was appointed by Fields. Mouquinho has been appointed as a member of the Sidewalk and Traffic Committees and plans to focus on quality of life issues.

“I think sidewalk cafes are great. It gives the Village character but it needs to be done in an orderly, clean, neat manner,” he said. Mouquinho hopes to work to make the cafe application forms “more accurate and specific. We really need to do this on a street-by-street basis so that we don’t benefit the merchants at the expense of the residents. You look at Seventh Ave. and Bleeker St. and see that one side can support cafes and the other can’t.”

Mouquinho has long been involved with his high school alma mater, St. Anthony’s, helping construct the crèche each Christmas and has been a Little League donor through PJ Charlton, but has “never done something like this on this scale before. I do believe in the process.” Mouquinho has attended board meetings since his appointment and says “I find it so amazingly interesting. The issues are so complicated yet things get done.”

Another lifelong local resident and new C.B. 2 member is Ronald Pasquale, 38, who grew up in Soho and the West Village and now resides on Thompson St. Pasquale, a realtor, works on Wooster St. with PEP Real Estate and applied to Fields’ office on his own. Pasquale was a public member of the Sidewalks Committee last year and now serves on the Zoning Committee as well. Married with two children, Pasquale says he is “very familiar with the needs of the community as both a businessman and a family man. The area has taken a step back economically since Sept. 11 and it’s changing, becoming more residential,” he said. “I want to help keep closer tabs on the area, figure out problem spots and making solutions.”

Community Board 3 has six new members, including a cab driver and a rabbi.

Along with David Diaz, a cab driver, Fields’ appointees to C.B. 3 include Barbara Jeter, a technician and a former member of Community Board 2, and Sara Weinstein, 23. Weinstein works for the New York State National Abortion Rights Action League and lives in Union Sq., where she has resided since gradating from Hamilton College. While Weinstein says she won’t be assigned a committee until September, she is interested in economic development and health. She is a former director of community affairs for Congressmember Anthony Weiner. Weinstein applied to the board last April, but was not selected, and says she reapplied this year because she was “looking for an opportunity to enrich the community. As a young person new to the area, I can offer a new perspective. I’m kind of in the process of building my own community right now.” After attending her first C.B. 3 meetings and being introduced to her fellow members, Weinstein’s reaction was: “It’s great. It’s very exciting to talk to such a really committed group of people.”

Two of the new C.B. 3 members, Rabbi Y.S. Ginzberg and Jason Nagel, applied through the office of Councilmember Alan Gerson. Ginzberg has served on the Neighborhood Advisory Board for the Lower East Side — a group that makes recommendations on allocating government anti-poverty funding — for the past two years, and called Gerson’s office when he became interested in applying to C.B. 3. Appointed in June, Ginzberg attended the meeting at which David McWater was elected the board’s chairperson — the meeting was “very instructive and interesting,” he said. A chaplain at Northshore University Hospital and teacher at a yeshiva at 145 E. Broadway, Ginzberg is interested in the Housing Committee. “The first meeting was great. It went by so fast because it was wonderful to hear people talk about the issues.”

Nagel, an attorney, is a fourth-generation New Yorker and has lived in the Lower East Side all his life. Nagel was asked if he was interested in the board by Gerson, whom he knew from the Sixth Street Community Synagogue, and joined the board in June. Like Weinstein and Ginzberg, Nagel has not been assigned a committee, but having worked for the state comptroller’s office, says he is “familiar with many of the issues concerning the board.” Nagel says that he was very impressed by his first board meeting. “We live in the most diverse community in the most diverse city in the world,” he said. “In the last decade, our neighborhood has become very popular, which is wonderful. But we have to consider the needs of the residents. We need to make a balance between the visitors and residents.” Nagel says he considers the community boards to be “democracy at its finest. I want to help bring the process more to the people,” he said. “I feel people are more detached and they have to renew the sense that decision-makers are there for the community. This involves both sides doing more.”

Another new member of Board 3 is Michael Auerbach, who could not be reached for comment and about whom information was not available by press time.

All the above members are Fields appointees, except for Nagel, Ginzberg and Auerbach, who are Gerson appointees. Councilmember Margarita Lopez did not make any new appointments to Boards 2 or 3, according to her chief of staff, Eric Lugo.


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