Tuesday, December 16, 2008

From ‘Crack Garden’ to Greenway

Three Like Minds Are Forging Ahead

Milton Puryear (above right) and Brian McCormick (above left) met in 1997, under somewhat unusual circumstances.

Both had recently moved to the Columbia Waterfront neighborhood, and both were passionate about being outdoors.

So Puryear started a garden of sorts, in a wide crack on the west side of Hicks Street, south of Congress Street, near his home. He frequently worked on it, calling it the “Crack Garden,” and McCormick often walked by.

“Milton single-handedly eradicated all the ailanthus trees” that made the crack, and brought flowers in, said McCormick. One day, McCormick went up to Puryear and asked, “Can I help you? This looks dangerous.” With McCormick’s help — which included putting up a traffic cone to make sure Puryear didn’t get hit by any cars — a friendship was born.

Sadly, the Crack Garden no longer exists. Maintenance crews came along and destroyed it, said Puryear, who decided not to rebuild. “It was too much effort to be putting back into something that could just go away like that. That’s when we decided to make a real Greenway.”

“Myself and Milton have been working on the Greenway since 1998,” said McCormick. “We were the chair and co-chair of an organization called the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Task Force. Meg [Fellerath] joined us about a couple of years later.”

“I moved to the neighborhood in 2001 and met Brian on the street,” said Fellerath (above center). The three of them incorporated as the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI) in 2004. Their objective was “to not only be advocates, but be catalysts and the planners of what became a project that spanned 14 miles along the Brooklyn Waterfront,” explained McCormick.

The three of them, upon moving to the neighborhood, felt that it lacked a shared space where people could be safe and active outside. Fellerath said ... read more.

Photo above courtesy of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative

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