Mayoral Aid Takes Interest in Seward Park Debate

We usually recognize most everyone who shows up at Community Board 3 meetings. This is especially true of the monthly Seward Park redevelopment confab, which until recently wasn’t exactly the hottest ticket in town. But as CB3 begins to develop concrete plans for the largest development site south of 96th Street, more people are starting to show their faces.

During the last couple of meetings, this mysterious guy has been hanging out in the audience, listening intently to the urban design discussion surrounding the mixed use-mixed income project committee members envision building.

Who is he? Turns out the mystery man is Jeff Mandel, a policy adviser to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  He reports to Robert Steel, deputy mayor for economic development. Mandel is #33 in this New York Magazine photo of Bloomberg Administration insiders.

City officials – including representatives from the NYC Economic Development Corp., the Department of City Planning and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development – have been working with CB3 on SPURA for many months. But as they have told the committee on several occasions, major decisions about the Seward Park project will be made at “the highest levels in city government (translation: the Mayor’s office).”

When quizzed by a local resident this past week, Mandel was not anxious to reveal his identity, initially describing himself as an interested citizen.  He apparently seemed perplexed that the community board’s debate was so contentious and, as he put it, “angry.”

Anger? Jeff, this is the Lower East Side. These guys are just having a friendly conversation!  When they’re angry, you won’t have to guess the reason why!