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.

credit: Mitch Waxman

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

credit: Harper’s Weekly

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

credit: Queens Borough Public Library, Archives, Ralph S. Solecki Photographs

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

credit: New York City Economic Development Corporation

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

credit: Clark & Rapuano

North Brooklyn traffic crawls along the BQE.

credit: Susan Watts/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Illustration of underground Exxon Mobil oil plume in Greenpoint.

credit: E. Wikander/Azote

Oil and water mix in the Newtown Creek, 2015.

credit: Mitch Waxman

Crumbling waste ridden Greenpoint shoreline, 2018.

credit: Nathan Kensinger

Remains of the North Henry Street garbage incinerator circa 2006.

credit: Anthony Hamboussi

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

credit: Mitch Waxman

Flooding from Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

credit: Andrew Kenney and Dan O'Neill

Purposed waterfront development superimposed on a google earth aerial map

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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
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2019 Greenpoint Playground

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2019 Volunteer Planting, Cooper Park

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2020 NBK Stewards Storm Clean-up, McGolrick Park

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2019 Volunteer Clean-up, Frost Playground

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2018 Planting Day with PS34, American Playground

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2017 Planting Day at American Playground with PS34

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2017 Planting Day at American Playground with PS34

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2017-2018 Annual McCarren Leaf Clearance, McCarren Park

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2016 Daffodil Planting, McGolrick Park

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2016 Daffodil Planting, Marcy Green (Center) Park

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2015 Corporate Volunteer Day with Riverkeeper Sweep, Grand Ferry Park

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2015 Planting Day, American Playground

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2015 Daffodil Planting, Marcy Green

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2014 Volunteer Day, Ten Eyck Playground

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2014 Clean-Up Day Honoring Marie Sadowski, McGolrick Park

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2013 Corporate Volunteer Day with New York Cares, McCarren Park

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2013 Corporate Volunteer Day with NY Cares, McGolrick Park

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2013 Corporate Volunteer Day with NYC Service, Grand Ferry Park

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2013 Corporate Volunteer Day Goldman Sachs, McCarren Park

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2012 Corporate Volunteer Day with NY Cares, McGolrick Park

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2012 Farmers Markets, McGolrick Park

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2012 McCarren Dog Run French Drains

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2018 Musicians, McGolrick Park

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2018 Public Art Installation at McGolrick Park

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2019 Southside Slam at Jamie Campiz Playground

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2019 June Bug Jazz Series

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2013-ongoing Films on the Green, Transmitter Park

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2011 Pop-Up PLAY Day, McCarren Park

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2019 Marionette Puppet Show at American Playground

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2008-2009 McCarren Pool Parties

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2014 Yoga in the Parks

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2013 McCarren Park Rink

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2018 Park History Walking Tour

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2012 Living Los Sures at Sternberg Park

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

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2013-2015 Hosh Family Yoga

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2016 Neighborhood Play Day, American Playground

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

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

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2019 Halloween Fest, Bushwick Inlet Park

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2012 The Attacca Quartet, Marsha P. Johnson State Park

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2008-2017 Summerscreen at McCarren Park

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2017 Firework View Party

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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.

 

 

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Cooper Park. 2011

credit: NBK Parks
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American Playground. 2017

credit: NBK Parks
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Masha P Johnson State Park (formerly East River State Park). 2013

credit: NBK Parks
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McGolrick Park. 2017

credit: NBK Parks
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Java Street Garden. 2012

credit: NBK Parks
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Transmitter Park. 2016

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The People’s Triangle. 2020

credit: NBK Parks
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Williamsburg Northside School. 2018

credit: NBK Parks
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Frost Playground. 2019

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