Our Impact

It’s never easy to see the trees from the forest, but we’ve stayed focused for almost twenty years. Invest and improve is our model.

LEGACY 

North Brooklyn has a long and dirty industrial history dominated by the five “black” arts: printing, glass and pottery making, cast iron manufacturing, and oil refining. These industries dumped an enormous amount of toxins into the environment for almost a hundred years beginning sometime in the mid-1800s and waning shortly after WWII.

These practices were soon replaced with the construction of the BQE in the 1940s, which encouraged mass vehicular traffic to crisscross the neighborhood, potentially exposing residents to toxins closely linked to asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

Then, in the 1950s a gas explosion at an oil refinery set off what would become North America’s largest oil spill, sending oil plumes three times the size of the infamous Exxon Valdez under much of Greenpoint, where it seeped into groundwater and surrounding waterways for decades.

Sadly, such neglect continued into the 1980s and 90s with the proliferation of illegal or loosely regulated dumping from both private and public waste facilities. 

In response, grassroots community advocacy efforts began demanding environmental justice and, in the early 2000s, galvanized around a citizen-led rezoning plan called 197A that would attempt to mitigate hundreds of years of degeneration. 

Around the same time, in anticipation of the 2005 rezoning of the Williamsburg/Greenpoint waterfront, North Brooklyn began to experience a surge of population and popularity, followed by new developments and open space along the East River.

This brings us to today, where the community has experienced an influx of luxury housing and higher income levels, while advocating for improved infrastructure strained by the increased density – including more and better parks and open spaces, but also transportation, sanitation, fire and police facilities, and schools.

“No Dumping” signs along the North Brooklyn waterfront, 2018.

As early as the 1880s citizens were clamoring for legal action against the “Newtown Creek Nuisances” for “sickening stenches” that would engulf the city.

Smoldering earth from industry off the banks of the Newtown Creek, 1936.

Aerial view of North Brooklyn coastline dotted with heavy industry in decline in1982. (view Kent Ave from N. 7th street to N. 15th).

Sketch from proposed construction types for Brooklyn-Queens Express way (BQE) 1940s.

North Brooklyn traffic crawls along the BQE.

Illustration of underground Exxon Mobil oil plume in Greenpoint.

Oil and water mix in the Newtown Creek, 2015.

Crumbling waste ridden Greenpoint shoreline, 2018.

Remains of the North Henry Street garbage incinerator circa 2006.

Water and garbage collect along the banks of the Newtown Creek.

Flooding from Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Purposed waterfront development superimposed on a google earth aerial map

OUR ROLE

Formed in 2003, North Brooklyn Parks Alliance (NBK Parks) was born out of the environmental justice movements of the 1980s and 90s. Many of the forebears of those movements make up or inspire our board, staff, and volunteers. 

Throughout its history, NBK Parks has been focused on the creation and maintenance of parks, while also acting as a grassroots community-building and advocacy organization. We partner with City and State agencies, as well as community and civic organizations, to raise funds from private donors and to bolster engagement in our parks and open spaces.

Unlike many conservancies, we are committed to improving ALL open and green space in Brooklyn’s Community District 1, rather than focusing on a single park. In doing so, less advantaged areas of our community can benefit from leveraging resources from more affluent parts of the district. From capital projects to maintenance concerns, from equipment purchases to public programming, NBK Parks has been a driving force in both private and government investment in our neighborhood. 

Our Board of Directors is composed of community and business leaders in North Brooklyn. Each board member is required to make an annual financial contribution, as well as serve as officers or on committees to assist the organization in fulfilling its mission.

But we don’t do it alone.

Our Alliance is only as strong as our members. We work closely with our Community Committee (or COMM COMM) which is an open group of concerned citizens that advises our Board about priorities as they see it for North Brooklyn’s open spaces.

North Brooklyn Neighbors, El Puente, and many of the “Friends of” parks groups participate in the Community Committee while maintaining their independence and their right to advocate for parks. NBK Parks empowers local parks advocates by convening local advocates and elected officials on issues that are most important to them.

 

 

February 2020 – Under the K, NBK Parks’ Executive Director, Katie Denny Horowitz meets with architects, Adam Nicklin and Marc Ryan from PUBLIC WORK.

credit: NBK Parks

Apr 27, 2017 – Kosciuszko Bridge first span opening. Right to left; NBK Parks’ Executive Director, Katie Denny Horowitz, NBK Parks Board Secretary and Architect, Joe Vance, Assemblymember Joe Lentol, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

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March 12, 2015 – “Where’s Our Park?” rally for Bushwick Inlet Park at City Hall.

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July 26, 2017 – Rally for The BQGreen in Rodney Park.

credit: St. Nicks Alliance

November 2019 – “Play Fair“ City Hall rally for park equity organized by New Yorkers 4 Parks

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July 2009 – Summerscreen. Volunteers hang our banner in McCarren Park celebrating the start of the summer movie series.

credit: NBK Parks

2008 – McCarren Park “Pool Parties”. Crowds loved the concert series pre-renovated McCarren Pool.

credit: Bao Nguyen

June 2019 – Southside Slam. Local basketball completion organized by Councilman Antonio Reynoso at the newly renovated Jaime Campiz Playground.

credit: NBK Parks

September 2014 – McGolrick Park. NBK Parks’ Executive Director, Ed Janoff at Clean Up Day Honoring Marie Sadowski.

credit: Daniel Latorre

2019 – NBK Parks’ donated an outfitted and stocked “Volunteer Trailer” to the Parks Department.

credit: NBK Parks

2015 – NBK Parks’ Team putting some new equipment to work.

credit: NBK Parks

2017 – NBK Parks’ Sponsored Park Seating.

credit: NBK Parks

June 2019 – American Playground. The love of threader starts young. CityParks PuppetMobile

credit: NBK Parks

September 2017 – GCEFF Open House. Former NBK Parks’ Executive Director Joe Mayock greets the public.

credit: NBK Parks

November 2017 – Smiles at our annual Community Meeting (COMM COMM)

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April 2010 – Transmitter Park. Groundbreaking. NYCEDC President Seth W. Pinsky and Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Council Member Stephen Levin, NBK Park’s Executive Director Stephanie Thayer

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February 2020. CUNY TV interviewing Katie Denny Horowitz on the history of the Newtown Creek.

credit: NBK Parks

mapping our impact

  • growing open space
  • volunteer work
  • improvements & investments
  • programming

Under NBKP's director Katie Denny Horowitz: 
In support of Mayor de Blasio’s Open Streets Initiative during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our organization acted a community partner in providing volunteers, resources, and planning capacity to a citizen-led team as they cared for over two miles of shared roadway.
 - Russell Street 
- Driggs Ave
- Berry Street

2020 Open Streets

Under NBKP's director Katie Denny Horowitz: New York State announced Governor Cuomo's administration would fund the development of the new 7-acre el-space park under the new Kosciuszko Bridge, which would be managed and operated by North Brooklyn Parks Alliance.

2019 Building Under the K

Under NBKP's director Ed Janoff: The plan to demap Union Avenue was approved, replacing the roadway with plant beds featuring lush perennials, low-growing shrubs, loading zones for vendors, and subterranean catch basins to improve drainage. Neighborhood Farmers Market will be relocated to the newly created plaza.

2013 Demapping Union Avenue

Under NBKP's director Joe Mayock: Alongside Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, we supported a "Sleep-in" to push the Mayor to make right on the promise to secure parkland to complete BIP. Food and music was provided, and well as a talk from historian Daniel Campo. 

2016 Sleep-in, Bushwick Inlet Park 

Under NBKP's director Joe Mayock; In conjunction with El Puente and our community partners, we supported a rally calling attention to the air quality issues in our area due to heavy traffic. We called for new parkland to be built to combat longstanding health issues. 

2015 BQGreeen Rally

Under NBKP's director Ed Janoff: Helped open and operate a temporary public space called Havemeyer Park at Two Trees' Domino Sugar Factory project site. Located at the Williamsburg bridge's base with stunning waterfront views, the park had picnic benches and umbrellas, a farmers market, a bike track, a yoga patch, and a regular free movie schedule. 

2014 Havemeyer Temporary Park

Under NBKP's director Ed Janoff; Constructed a new Greenstreet at Meeker Avenue and Morgan Avenue.

2014 Meeker/Morgan Triangle, Greenstreet

Under NBKP's director Stephanie Thayer: In anticipation of the East River Ferry and India Street pier opening, opened the Java Street End Pop-up Park, which served the public for just about two years.

2011 Java Street End Pop-up Park

Under NBKP's director Stephanie Thayer: Tuesday, August 3, 2010, NYC Parks broke ground at the future WNYC Transmitter Park.

2010 WNYC Transmitter Park Groundbreaking

Under NBKP's director Stephanie Thayer: Mayor Bloomberg and public officials broke ground on the Inlet in July, and the soccer field was going through final inspections.

2009 Bushwick Inlet Groundbreaking

Under NBKP's director Stephanie Thayer: Mayor Bloomberg broke ground on McCarren Park Pool in December. After being shuttered for 23 years, and at the cost of $50 million, the pool will open in 2012.

2009 McCarren Park Pool Groundbreaking

In conjunction with Friends of Greenpoint Playground and Partnerships for Parks we hosted a Friends' clean up, which includes adding plants in the wooden planters, and mulch the trees.

2019 Greenpoint Playground

2019 Volunteer Planting, Cooper Park

2020 NBK Stewards Storm Clean-up, McGolrick Park

2019 Volunteer Clean-up, Frost Playground

2018 Planting Day with PS34, American Playground

2017 Planting Day at American Playground with PS34

2017 Planting Day at American Playground with PS34

Under NBKP's director Joe Mayock; Hosted winter volunteers in clearing leaves from the parks many fields, and flower beds. 

2017-2018 Annual McCarren Leaf Clearance, McCarren Park

Under NBKP's director Joe Mayock; We supported Partnership 4 Parks' city-wide effort to beautify the city with their annual daffodil bulbs planting day.

2016 Daffodil Planting, McGolrick Park

Under NBKP's director Joe Mayock; We supported Partnership 4 Parks' city-wide effort to beautify the city with their annual daffodil bulbs planting day.

2016 Daffodil Planting, Marcy Green (Center) Park

2015 Corporate Volunteer Day with Riverkeeper Sweep, Grand Ferry Park

2015 Planting Day, American Playground

Under NBKP's director Joe Mayock; We supported Partnership 4 Parks' city-wide effort to beautify the city with their annual daffodil bulbs planting day.

2015 Daffodil Planting, Marcy Green


2014 Volunteer Day, Ten Eyck Playground

2014 Clean-Up Day Honoring Marie Sadowski, McGolrick Park

2013 Corporate Volunteer Day with New York Cares, McCarren Park

2013 Corporate Volunteer Day with NY Cares, McGolrick Park

2013 Corporate Volunteer Day with NYC Service, Grand Ferry Park

2013 Corporate Volunteer Day Goldman Sachs, McCarren Park

2012 Corporate Volunteer Day with NY Cares, McGolrick Park

Under NBKP's director Stephanie Thayer: Through community advocacy and petition, a weekly marketplace for fresh foods from regional farmers was established. 

2012 Farmers Markets, McGolrick Park

Under NBKP's director Stephanie Thayer: McCarren Dog Run Association installed French drains in the dog run, rectifying a long-standing problem.

2012 McCarren Dog Run French Drains

Under NBKP's director Joe Mayock: Jazz series organized by artist Jesse Lynch as part of his improvisational work called, The Vortex.

2018 Musicians, McGolrick Park

Under NBKP's director Joe Mayock: A temporary public art sculpture entitled "Ziemia" (Ziemia is the Polish word for "earth") by local artist Martynka Wawrzyniak was commissioned for the newly restored garden beds in McGolrick Park.

2018 Public Art Installation at McGolrick Park

Under NBKP's director Katie Denny Horowitz: In partnership with Council Member Antonio Reynoso, youth between the ages of 10-15 were invited to participate in a basketball tournament to celebrate the basketball court's renaming with music, refreshments, & free giveaways.

2019 Southside Slam at Jamie Campiz Playground

Under NBKP's director Katie Denny Horowitz: Partnered with the Jazz Foundation of America to bring a free sunset jazz concert to our neighborhood parks: McGolrick Park, Transmitter Park, and Greenpoint Playground.

2019 June Bug Jazz Series

Under NBKP's director Ed Janoff, Joe Mayock, and Katie Denny-Horowitz: In conjunction with the French Embassy, we supported a summer film series of French films on the lawn of Transmitter Park

2013-ongoing Films on the Green, Transmitter Park

Under NBKP's director Stephanie Thayer: Children's companies PLAY and Pop-Up Adventure PLAY organized a day of experiences featuring carefully chosen activities and play stations at McCarren Park.

2011 Pop-Up PLAY Day, McCarren Park

Under NBKP's director Katie Denny Horowitz: In partnership with City Parks Foundation and their PUPPETMOBILE, free marionette show performed by one of the country's oldest puppeteer groups.

2019 Marionette Puppet Show at American Playground

Under NBKP's director Stephanie Thayer: The now-famed Jelly Pool Parties are the stuff of hipster lore - and whether you loved them or hated them, they kicked off a decade of summer concert history for North Brooklyn.

2008-2009 McCarren Pool Parties

Under NBKP's director Ed Janoff: Partnered with Good Yoga to provide a series of free outdoor classes in parks every Saturday for six weeks at McCarren Park, McGolrick Park, Transmitter Park, and 50 Kent (Bushwick Inlet Park).

2014 Yoga in the Parks

Under NBKP's director Ed Janoff: With only a few ice skating rinks in the borough, North Brooklyn felt super lucky to have McCarren Park Pool turned into a 7,200 square-foot ice skating rink that accommodated several hundred skaters at a time for two years, ending in winter 2015.

2013 McCarren Park Rink

Under NBKP's director Joe Mayock: Organized with local historian Geoffrey Cobb, this tour walked the public around North Brooklyn parks highlighting the areas relevant to hyper-local ecology and history. 

2018 Park History Walking Tour

Under NBKP's director Stephanie Thayer: Preview screening and celebration hosted by Union Docs of an amazing neighborhood project, "Living Los Sures" a 1984 documentary about Williamsburg's southside told by resident filmmaker Diego Echeverria.

2012 Living Los Sures at Sternberg Park

Under NBKP's directors Stephanie Thayer & Ed Janoff: This period produced several highly memorable concerts at the newest waterfront location, 50 Kent (at Bushwick Inlet Park). This included the inaugural pop-culture festival "90s Fest", the cult classic Verboten "StageONE Festival," the annual Fool's Gold "Day Off," and the hottest ticket of the year; The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival: 10th Anniversary. 

2012-2015 Waterfront Concert Series, 50 Kent (Bushwick Inlet Park)

Under NBKP's director Ed Janoff: In conjunction with Hosh Yoga, we supported free outdoor yoga classes in the park in August at both McCarren Park and McGolrick Park.

2013-2015 Hosh Family Yoga

Under NBKP's director Joe Mayock: We hosted a day of bi-lingual sign along with Rock-n-Lolo, storytime with the Brooklyn Public Library, and a "learn to ride a bike" with Bike NY lesson

2016 Neighborhood Play Day, American Playground

Under NBKP's director Joe Mayock: In conjunction with the Audobon Society & GCEF, we were the proud host to a series of education and restoration programs that highlighted the wildlife in Greenpoint's open space. “For the Birds!” environmental education program at P.S. 110 the Monitor School was an innovative program that promotes learning, moving between the classroom and the park, where native habitat sites could be observed

2017 For the Birds! with the Audubon Society, McGolrick Park 

Under NBKP's director Ed Janoff: In conjunction with NikeSB's temporary 22,00ft skatepark built on the waterfront, we supported "open skate days" for community members. 

2015 Nike Open Skate at 50 Kent (Bushwick Inlet Park)

Under NBKP's director Katie Denny Horowitz;  In partnership with NYC Parks, we presented an afternoon of pumpkin decorating, costume-making & parading, and interactive performances and workshops, including musical entertainment by the Shinbone Alley Stilt Band; art-making workshops for kids by Eckford Street Studios; ghostly face painting by Smudge Pudge; spooky musical puppet theater by Fairy Tale Marionettes; large-scale games by NYC Parks; and a special visit by the Urban Park Rangers.

2019 Halloween Fest, Bushwick Inlet Park

Under NBKP's directors Stephanie Thayer: Proud host of an afternoon of music by the Graduate Resident String Quartet of The Juilliard School

2012 The Attacca Quartet, Marsha P. Johnson State Park

Under NBKP's directors Stephanie Thayer & Ed Janoff: Popular Williamsburg outdoor film (and music) series Summerscreen curated by The L Magazine, provided two months of free entertainment each summer for several years, starting with their first series at McCarren pool and eventually moved to the annual home at the McCarren tar courts.

2008-2017 Summerscreen at McCarren Park

Under NBKP's director Joe Mayock: Organized a firework viewing party on West Street in soon to be developed parcel to celebrate the return of the famous Macy’s Day show to the East River.

2017 Firework View Party

INVEST & IMPROVE

Across all five boroughs, most parks are at least half a century old. In Brooklyn, the average park is 73 years old, and one park in 10 was built before 1898.

This parks system, which expanded greatly under Robert Moses, required a minimum of 8,000 workers- 5,000 full-time and 3,000 seasonal. Sadly, by the 1970s fiscal crisis, the full-time staff was down to 2,500 employees, and with the current fiscal crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Agency is experiencing additional staffing cuts and budget freezes, even as New York City’s green spaces have grown to occupy more than 14 percent of the city’s total acreage, not counting natural areas, and more than two million trees.

To combat this historical issue of underfunding, New York City experienced an emergence of public-private partnerships (PPP), beginning with the Central Park Conservancy in 1980, which remain a significant vehicle of fundraising for the city’s parks and open spaces. Today, New York City has roughly 80 public-private partners of varying sizes who make invaluable contributions to our parks. North Brooklyn Park Alliance is one of those proud partners, and is the only conservancy that holds a district-wide mandate, as opposed to a single park or location. This enables the organization to raise and distribute resources and funds across the neighborhood with the goal of building a more equitable neighborhood for all.

The map and corresponding images highlight some of the hard-fought investments and improvements NBK Parks secured with the community – for the community – in partnership with NYC Parks. 

 

REFERENCES

fiscal sponsorship

OUR ALLIANCE

One of the best things about North Brooklyn Park Alliance is being able to offer Fiscal Sponsorship to groups, organizations, or causes that are not on their own a formal non-profit with a legal status of a 501(c)(3). 

That means your group and NBK Parks can create a formal arrangement so that your group, organization, or cause can seek out grants, hold fundraisers, and solicit tax-deductible donations while NBK Parks acts as the legal fiscal sponsor providing fiduciary oversight, financial management, and other administrative services to help build the capacity of any charitable projects that your group, organization or cause wants to grow. 

NBK Parks offers a simple, efficient, and cost-effective “back-office” administrative solution for collecting and distributing charitable assets, which provides a desirable alternative to the complexity, hassle, and burden of operating your cause. NBK Parks handles the accounting, bookkeeping, taxes, audit, disbursements (invoice and grant payments), compliance, bank account, and financial oversight, among several other services.

Some of our most successful Fiscal Sponsorships are friends groups many of you in the neighborhood know and love such as Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, Friends of Cooper Park, Friends of Transmitter Park, and Friends of American Playground. We’ve also sponsored some wonderful causes and projects such as Greenpoint Tree Corp., BQGreen, and public art project “Ziemia”.

Please contact our Executive Director, Katie Denny-Horowitz to find out more about creating a  fiscal sponsorship.

 

 

Cooper Park. 2011

American Playground. 2017

Masha P Johnson State Park (formerly East River State Park). 2013

McGolrick Park. 2017

Java Street Garden. 2012

Transmitter Park. 2016

The People’s Triangle. 2020

Williamsburg Northside School. 2018

Frost Playground. 2019

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