Thursday, June 25, 2009

Press release: Stormy Skies Can’t Dampen Greenway Gala!

Over 200 supporters of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway came together on June 18th at IKEA’s Erie Basin Park in Red Hook to celebrate the greenway’s progress and to recognize three honorees, all of whom have been instrumental in moving the greenway forward this year.

New Views 2009, the annual benefit hosted by Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI), was saved by quick action from the IKEA staff and BGI volunteers, who moved the entire event under the garage next to the new greenway segment at Erie Basin Park. Rain and wind had ripped two tents and left standing water at the original event site two hours before it started. BGI co-founders Brian McCormick, Meg Fellerath and Milton Puryear expressed their appreciation to the gathered guests for their support and their help in making the greenway vision a reality.

Despite the weather, the evening was characterized by good humor. Jon Orcutt, Senior Policy Advisor to NYC DOT Commissioner Jeanette Sadik-Khan, introduced Christopher O. Ward, Executive Director of the Port Authority by saying, “I bet this is the first time Chris Ward was honored in a parking garage.” Mr. Ward, who during a prior tenure at the Port Authority was also instrumental in helping the greenway said, “I was involved in this project 15 years ago. I had no idea then that it would become as big as it has.” Mr. Ward and the Port Authority were recognized for making additional space available for the greenway along Degraw and Van Brunt Streets.

Jeannette Nigro, Vice President for Economic Development of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce recognized IKEA Brooklyn and Mike Baker, Store Manager, on behalf of Carl Hum, the Chamber’s president. Ms. Nigro said, “We commend IKEA, Mike Baker, their entire team, the community residents who make up the IKEA staff, and Brooklyn Greenway Initiative for their investment in the Brooklyn waterfront, making it one of the most progressive green neighborhoods for residents and businesses in Brooklyn.” IKEA’s 6-acre Erie Basin Park, designed by landscape architect Lee Weintraub, includes a section of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway.

Teresa Toro, Transportation Committee Chair of Community Board 1 and one of last year’s honorees, introduced Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives (TA). She said, “TA Brooklyn Committee members play a major role in the efforts to improve the Pulaski Bridge, to implement the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists, to promote best practices for sharing the streets to all users and to minimize cuts in transit services for communities with limited transit options.” Mr. White acknowledged BGI by saying, “If all of our community partners were like Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, we’d have it all done by now.”

New Views 2009 honorees received an autographed copy of Walking Brooklyn by Adrienne Onofri, as well as a complete kit for repairing bicycle flat tires donated by R&A Cycles. Recycle-a-Bicycle also donated a BMX bike that was raffled off at the end of the evening.

The Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway is now a NYC DOT project. Preliminary design and engineering is expected to begin this year using federal funding secured by Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez. When complete, the greenway will be a 14-mile continuous landscaped route with separate paths for pedestrians and cyclists. Funding for planning the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway is provided by the New York Department of State Division of Coastal Resources with funds provided under Title 11 of the Environmental Protection Fund. The NYS funding is sponsored by the Office of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

BGI also announced the release of the 2nd edition of A User’s Guide to the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. Major funding for the greenway guide was provided by the J. M. Kaplan Fund, Independence Community Foundation, and Brownstoner. The guide is free and it can be requested by going to BGI’s

Check out website.

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