Linda Allegretti – Founder and Secretary of the Shore Road ParksConservancy, President of the Shore Road Garden Council, ExecutiveBoard Member of the Bay Ridge Community Council, Member of theBoard of Directors for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT1 NYC), Board Member of South Brooklyn Citizens Corporation
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Two years ago, Allegretti formed theShore Road Parks Conservatory out of her residence. She recalls theorganization’s inaugural event. There were about 30 people whocame to my apartment – local businessmen, a couple of people in mybuilding I thought might be interested in jumping on board,Allegretti said. [They were] people on Shore Road who saw the needto help with the cleanup. The conservancy now works in tandem withthe New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to maintainthe acres of parkland around the waterfront of Bay Ridge, from theVerrazano Bridge to Owl’s Head Park. It’s a very, very bigproject, she said.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: According to Allegretti, recent budget cutshave left the Parks Department with limited funds and personnel, areason that citizen participation is needed more than ever. It’sbeen so bad with the cuts that if residents don’t chip in to helpwith the land, we’re going to lose it, she explained. Since parksare typically city property, she says it is difficult to convinceresidents that they shouldn’t be the city’s responsibility. Ithink a lot of people feel they pay taxes and it should be includedin their taxes, Allegretti said. But because of this terriblefinancial situation, we need people to help us.
PERSONAL: Allegretti has a 32-year-old son, three stepchildrenand six grandchildren. A lifelong Bay Ridge resident, she was aschoolteacher for a decade until her son was born, spending eightof those years at Public School 179 in Kensington. When asked topick a trait that other people would use to describe her, she saysit is probably her open heart. I guess people would say giving,and I’d say that’s accurate, Allegretti said.
INSPIRATION: A desire to make the parks an enjoyable place forpeople to visit is what drives Allegretti. She recalls the day,eight years ago, when she had just begun her efforts through theShore Road Garden Council. That was when she first witnessed theeffect her hard work was having. I saw people strolling throughthe park and literally started to cry because I thought they’reenjoying the park,’ Allegretti said, because when I started, youcouldn’t even walk through that park area. It was completely brokenup and covered with weeds.