Bay Ridge

Fort Hamilton advocates raise funds to fight for base’s survival

October 2, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Honoree Robert J. Sabbagh (second from right) brought his family to the reception. That’s daughter Danielle Basso, wife Brenda Sabbagh and son Robert G. Sabbagh (left to right). Eagle photos by Paula Katinas
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The Fort Hamilton Citizens Action Committee held a dinner Thursday night to raise funds for a fight it hopes it never has to have.

The committee, which was formed 10 years ago, has a mission: to fight any effort by the federal government to close the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton. The committee counts among its members several business leaders and civic activists.

Committee President Bill Guarinello said the fort, located at Fort Hamilton Parkway and 101st Street in Bay Ridge, is not in any immediate danger of closing.

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Fort Hamilton, which dates back to 1825, is named in memory of Alexander Hamilton. It is the U.S. government’s only active military installation in New York City.

But if the federal government enters a new round of military budget cuts, as it does every few years, Pentagon cost cutters will be looking at everything, including the possibility of closing military bases, according to Guarinello.

Once every few years, the president asks Congress to form a Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) to analyze military installations around the country and make recommendations on which to downsize or close.

The committee’s Oct. 1 fundraiser, which took place at the Bay Ridge Manor, 476 76th St., will go a long way toward helping the group in its work, according to Guarinello. In the past, the committee has spent, time, money and resources to conduct research to shore up its arguments that keeping Fort Hamilton open is good for the country’s national defense.

“But if another BRAC comes along, we estimate that we’ll need funds to operate as we prepare our arguments,” Guarinello told the Brooklyn Eagle.

At the fundraiser, the committee presented awards to Guarinello, the Bay Ridge Lawyer’s Association and Robert J. Sabbagh, owner of Bay Ridge Auto Group, for their efforts to assist the group in its work.

Grace Borrino, president of the Bay Ridge Lawyer’s Association, accepted the award on behalf of her group.

“It is important for local organizations and associations to support one another within our community. The Fort Hamilton Citizens Action Committee is a local organization that does amazing work in supporting the military service members and their families of the Fort Hamilton Army Base,” Borrino told the Eagle in an email.

A decade after it formed, the committee is still keeping an eye out for the fort. Today, the committee not only advocates on behalf of keeping the fort open, but members also work to foster closer ties between the military personnel at the base and the community of Bay Ridge.

Last year, Guarinello; Col. Joseph Davidson, the fort’s commander; and local elected officials all signed a Community Covenant, pledging to work to maintain close ties between the fort and the surrounding community.


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