On Thursday, December 5, the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI) held a fundraising benefit in Industry City along the Sunset Park waterfront to celebrate Brooklyn’s collective successes and triumph over hardships following Superstorm Sandy while also honoring one of the nonprofit’s most prominent supporters, Andrew Kimball.
Kimball, CEO of Industry City and former president/CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, was chosen as honoree for his years of advocacy on behalf of revitalizing the waterfront economy, in turn helping to push Greenway development forward.
“The Greenway has been one of the most impactful urban landscape changes in Brooklyn in the last decade,” Kimball said of the project. “[Its] completion will provide tremendous value to communities along the Brooklyn waterfront, including new transit options for the growing innovation economy workforce, recreational opportunities for local residents, flood protection and expanded economic opportunities for area business.”
Gregory O’Connell, principal at the O’Connell Organization in Red Hook and a board member at BGI, said that the power of the Greenway can also be felt by residents whose neighborhoods are now visited by so many more people with so much more frequency, building stronger bonds of community in the process.
“The Greenway is part of our effort to contribute to the community [because] just the amount of people that utilize it, especially in neighborhoods like Red Hook and Sunset Park that don’t have the infrastructure for bike lanes, is amazing,” said O’Connell. “It allows us to be connected.”
Arif Sunmonu is one of those people. The 18-year-old native of the Columbia Street Waterfront District said that having the Greenway has made him “really happy.”
“I worked on the gardens, cleaning [the path] by Columbia Street,” said Sunmonu, who interned at BGI while studying ocean engineering at the Urban Assembly NY Harbor School. “I live right by there and love how they made a bike path [because] it makes Brooklyn more sustainable and is really convenient. I love the waterfront and have lived here my whole life. [Now] a lot of people are moving here and it makes me really happy.”
The Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway and its advocates in the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI) have come a long way since the first public workshops in 2004, with portions of the 14-mile route stretching from Pulaski Bridge in Greenpoint down to Owl’s Head Park on the border of Sunset Park and Bay Ridge now complete and others in various stages of construction.