COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Maria Garrett, born and raised in Brooklyn, supports the admirable cause of keeping Brooklyn green. As the organizer of Fresh Creek Nature Preserve, Garrett has dedicated making sure the borough remains beautified.
“In 2005, I organized a clean- up because the city neglected the preserve and bird sanctuary and they said they would never build on that,” said Garrett. “It wasn’t permissible for people to go on the land. But then school kids were going there and playing. The city neglected cleaning it. It affected home owners’ property. We eventually got termites and everyone who lived there was affected. They had to cut a lot of trees.”
Determined to stop the deterioration of the once-scenic area, Garrett attended community and council meetings and started to reach out to them. “I told them that we have to do something about this. It was an eyesore. We were supposed to be going green and we were going brown,” Garrett stated.
After writing letters, and visiting politicians’ homes and offices, her attempts to improve the dire situation were briefly thwarted. Most of them said it was not their jurisdiction and there was nothing they could do.
Garrett didn’t stop there. “I organized a cleanup in 2005; 150 volunteers from the DA’s office along with school organizations helped pile up tons of garbage.” Everyone that participated received a certificate.
Subsequently, Garrett became a tree steward. “I started helping plant trees all over the parks of Brooklyn, such as Gerritsen Beach.”
And when Superstorm Sandy hit much of the borough hard, she joined to team with New York Cares to preserve and fix some of the damage done. “After Sandy, I took a tour of the preserve. And saw bulkheads that were missing and eroded sea wall. I was nervous. It was not good. Roots of trees were being exposed. If we get more bad storms, those trees are going to fall over.”
Still, Garrett continues to fight to keep Brooklyn green.
PERSONAL LIFE: Garrett went to Bay Ridge High School and graduated in 1974. After that, she went to TCI. She currently works in an administrative position in the finance department for Kanematsu USA in Manhattan.
MOTIVATION: Garrett enjoys educating fellow residents about the environment. “When I walk through the neighborhood and see things that are not up to par, I help direct them where they need to go,” said Garrett.