Carroll Gardens Association honors local activists, businesses at 44th anniversary dinner
Local activists, business owners and other community members affiliated with the Carroll Gardens Association (CGA) gathered Thursday to celebrate the organization’s 44th anniversary at Marco Polo Ristorante in Carroll Gardens. CGA, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit dedicated to developing affordable/workforce housing and providing various types of services to Southwest Brooklyn residents, organized the dinner to honor the work of a few individuals and businesses.
CGA Board Chair Cynthia Gonzalez opened the event by speaking about some of the challenges that the organization has faced within the communities it serves. She highlighted the organization’s core mission to preserve “safe, affordable housing in Brooklyn, and to maintain the race, class, age and ethnic diversity of our communities.” She added, “We therefore continually persevere in our efforts to promote affordable development in the face of the decline of spaces to build.”
The first honoree, Rachel Demarest Gold, Esq., was presented with the Public Service Award. Gold has made strides in her position as the deputy commissioner for Legislation, Policy and Federal Affairs at the New York State Department of Labor. She has overseen Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Unemployment Strikeforce and Urban Youth Jobs Program, among other workforce development initiatives.
Despite her many accomplishments, upon receiving the award, Gold joked about being perplexed when she was notified of the honor. “But then it occurred to me that I’m probably one of the last people in Carroll Gardens living here on a government salary,” she said.
Gold thanked the CGA and applauded its efforts.
“This organization is helping people rise to the new economic challenges of where we all live. In cities across the country, people are being pushed out of neighborhoods that they call their homes, sometimes their entire lives, because the economy changes,” she noted.
The Small Business Leadership Award was presented to William J. Nesbit and son Damien. They founded Dog Day Cyclery, a Red Hook-based business devoted to sales, rentals and repairs of bicycles, in 2011. The company is a good fit for the neighborhood, where public transportation is not particularly accessible.
While presenting the honor, Kings Coffee owner Dominic Palasatro noted the pair’s kindness and their strong commitment to the community. “Damien was one of the first people I met when I was getting set up,” said Palasatro, “and his warmth and neighborly approach — it’s no wonder that he and Bill of Dog Day Cyclery are getting recognized this evening.”
The last award of the night was presented to the Sohne Family of Sohne Brothers Real Estate Development, whose link to the real estate industry goes back several decades. The family business develops commercial, residential and mixed-use buildings while keeping the desires of the greater community in mind. While accepting the award, Marshall Sohne also praised the CGA’s affordable housing initiatives, noting, “They’ve really advanced something that is great for the future of everybody.”
This past year has been full of accomplishments for the CGA. The organization has served as the main driving force behind the renewal of the Columbia Waterfront District Merchant Association and has maintained and improved 150 units of affordable housing for hundreds of low-income residents.