Boroughwide

2024: The year of the greenways

Brooklyn Greenway Initiative celebrates Regional Plan Association at fundraiser

June 14, 2024 Wayne Daren Schneiderman
Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI) board members. Photo by Jeremy Amar
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WILLIAMSBURG — To paraphrase Kermit the Frog, it’s not always easy being green. But it’s always welcome, particularly in North Brooklyn, and in some circles, it’s expected.

Devotion to green was on full display Wednesday evening at a packed house in North Brooklyn’s Talea Beer Co., located at 87 Richardson St. — the venue for the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative’s 20th Anniversary Gala, where it celebrated the work of the Regional Plan Association.

Empowering Greenway advocacy 

RPA, an independent non-profit civic organization that develops and promotes ideas to improve the economic health, environmental resilience and quality of life in the New York metropolitan area, was acknowledged for founding BGI.

For two decades, BGI has empowered greenway advocacy, increased mobility and led the essential Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, which serves more than 2.65 million Brooklyn residents, 1.1 million Brooklyn commuters and more than 15 million annual visitors to the borough. 

Kate Slevin, RPA executive vice president and staff. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman
Kate Slevin, RPA executive vice president and staff. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman

Tom Wright, president and CEO of RPA, told the Brooklyn Eagle, “We want to keep supporting the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative and do our part to advance this incredible cause.

“The joy in the room shows what BGI is all about,” Wright said, “a group of community activists with a spectacular vision.” 

Sam Brown-Beatty, development director at BGI. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman
Sam Brown-Beatty, development director at BGI. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman

Setting the course 

Hunter Armstrong, executive director of BGI, pointed out that 2024 is the year to accomplish amazing things. 

“We want to expand into new communities, especially those overlooked and underserved by transit and parks,” Armstrong told the Eagle. “The decisions and investments we make in 2024 — ‘the year of greenways’ — will set the course for the decades to come. We are all about pushing the greenway movement forward.”

(From left) Tom Wright, president and CEO of RPA alongside Rob Pirani, BGI board member. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman
(From left) Tom Wright, president and CEO of RPA alongside Rob Pirani, BGI board member. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman

In partnership with the NYC Department of Transportation, Department of Parks and Recreation and Economic Development Corporation, six new greenways throughout the boroughs — including upgrades to Ocean Parkway and Eastern Parkway, South Bronx, Northwest Queens, Southeast Queens, Staten Island North Shore and the Harlem River in the Bronx — are all in the planning stages, according to Armstrong.  

Tom Wright, president and CEO of RPA. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman
Tom Wright, president and CEO of RPA. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman

Bringing beauty to the neighborhood 

BGI began in 2004 by a group of visionary residents in Brooklyn with an idea to improve access and safety and create a Brooklyn waterfront Greenway.

“And 20 years later, I’m happy to say that we’ve accomplished a lot, but there is always room for improvement,” Armstrong said. “Our Greenway vision is a safe, dedicated space for cyclists, pedestrians, and runners that is separate from traffic and is green, bringing beauty to the neighborhood.” 

Tiffany Stone, BGI board member. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman
Tiffany Stone, BGI board member. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman

Rob Pirani, BGI board member and former RPA employee, said the event was about spotlighting Brooklyn and what makes it special.

“It’s great to see neighbors committed to improving the borough and their neighborhood, but the job isn’t done,” said Pirani. “New York City and Brooklyn are always changing, and there are always new challenges. However, it takes a partnership between community groups, the civic sector and government to implement improvements that will make Brooklyn a better place.”

Hunter Armstrong, executive director of BGI outside Talea Beer Co., the fundraiser’s venue. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman
Hunter Armstrong, executive director of BGI outside Talea Beer Co., the fundraiser’s venue. Photo by Wayne Daren Schneiderman


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