SOHO — After the most contentious election in nearly a decade, Community Board 2 has a new chair.
"The board is in good hands," Gruber said after the election results were announced last week.
Bergman, who fought for Pier 40 as a park for local youth athletic leagues, said he hopes to build a more inclusive, engaged board, noting that he has seen new members who “came with enthusiasm and lost it because of assignments they were given.”
“I think their jobs have to be made more interesting — they have to be more engaged with their work,” he said, suggesting a mentorship program for new members.
Bergman was challenged in the race by Bo Riccobono, who campaigned on a promise to "revolutionize" the way the board was structured by spreading power among several top positions, rather than giving comlete control to the chair. Riccobono had also envisioned a more “proactive” board that would work to influence policy in the city as a whole.
But Riccobono lost at last week's election, with 13 votes to Bergman's 28. Richard Stewart, a third candidate, trailed with eight votes.
Bergman won support from his fellow board members after helping with a recent board victory.
Developers tried to get the board's approval for three or four floors of retail in a new glittery glass-and-steel building at 19 E. Houston St., but Bergman and CB2's Land Use Committee, which he chairs, dug in their heels, refusing to allow retail above the second floor. The committee also negotiated an agreement with the developers and the city Department of Transportation to expand the sidewalk outside the building.
After the election, Bergman it was too soon to say which issues he would focus on as chair, but added that he looked forward to hearing from board members.
"I find it easier and more interesting to work with other people's ideas than my own," Bergman said.