Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund showcases progress in second annual Open House
ExxonMobile Settlement Money Funds Community Projects From a New Library to Safety of Migratory Birds
By late afternoon at Monsignor McGolrick Park on Oct. 14, people were packing up displays, folding charts, placing live organic samples carefully into transport containers, wiping down binoculars, stacking trays of plants, upending long tables and folding their legs in. NYPD Captain Victoria Perry of the 94th Precinct chatted with Kostancja Malesynska of Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn and North Brooklyn Development Corporation General Administrator Richard Mazur.
The topic of conversation somehow landed on style.
“I should be wearing a gown!” the emphatically avuncular Mazur declared while displaying an exaggerated pirouette, drawing laughs from Perry and Malesynska.
People felt good. Mike Smith and Cheryl Vosburg of GreenSmith Public Relations couldn’t have crafted a better day to present the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund’s (GCEF) second annual Open House. Temperatures were warm and rain absent. Instead of traveling to the various parts of Greenpoint where GCEF’s money has made the most impact, this year the open house remained entirely at McGolrick Park.
Earlier in the day, Smith greeted arrivals with an array of fresh Peter Pan donuts, while his GreenSmith partner Cheryl Vosburg oversaw activity in the recently completed dog run.
The park’s dog run received a $500,000 GCEF to improve drainage by swapping out the mulch-based surface and replacing it with stone and pea gravel. The new design offers both gravel and dirt surfaces, which should come as a relief for those dog owners who expressed concern over the potential for gravel to injure their companions’ paws.
“People feel this space has a better sense of community,” Vosburg explained. “People know one another and each other’s pets here.”
Paige Laubheimer, a transplant to Greenpoint from Nyack, has been bringing Daphne, his Parson Russell mix, to McGolrick twice daily for the past year. “I definitely see improvement,” he nodded, watching Daphne compete for a dirt-stained tennis ball in play. “It rained yesterday nearly all day, but look around. It’s dry.”
Back by the Shelter Pavilion, professor Sarah Durand of LaGuardia College used enlarged satellite photographs of Newtown Creek to show a section of the waterfront along North Henry Street. “We call it ‘No Name Inlet’ right now,” she said. “We’re trying to drill out core samples to 15 inches in order to obtain permits to restore this spot as an area where people can have direct access to the creek.”
Durand went on to explain the difficulty in drilling just a short distance without colliding with an existing pipe or buried cable.
Artist Martynka Wawrzyniak then passed out forms for people to use to participate in her project “Ziemia: Our Stories Are Written in Soil.” Participants are instructed to select a place with personal meaning, collect one cup of soil in a glass jar and mail or deliver it to her. The samples, she explained, would be used to create the glaze that will cover an orb approximately 5 feet in diameter to be set along the Russell Street entrance to McGolrick Park in 2018.
“As an immigrant myself,” Wawrzyniak explained, “I understand the importance of place, of how places shape our identities. We have samples coming from Poland and from all over the world, ultimately.”
McGolrick Park Alliance’s Malesynska also passed out marigold bulbs for families to plant at spots already marked. Summer Kong, 6, of P.S. 31, dug assiduously with a hand trowel while her mother Cindy Kong stood by.
“I grew up just a few blocks from here,” Kong explained. “It was different for me — both sets of my grandparents lived on the same street, so we knew as kids there was always someone watching. It’s not like that now as much, with younger people moving in. But there are still smaller groups, micro-communities, if you will, that look out for another.”
When asked about the changes to Monsignor McGolrick Park in recent years, Kong smiled: “Definitely an improvement. It was starting to get a little seedy. This is much nicer. By far.”
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