Council-elect Stresses Community Serviceat Willowtown's 2009 Annual Meeting

Willowtown annual meeting New York City Councilman-elect Stephen Levin of District 33 praised Brooklyn philanthropist Alfred T. White, 1846-1921, for being "a great example to us of community service" in a talk given at the annual meeting of the Willowtown Association on Wednesday evening, November 10. The meeting was held in the community center on Willow Place in Brooklyn Heights that bears White’s name and where he operated a kindergarten. A block away is the Riverside apartment complex built by him in 1890 as a lasting model of better housing for the city’s poor.

Levin, who will take his City Council seat in January, said that like White he feels "fortunate to be able to serve others and to give back, to be civically minded." He expressed his hopes to serve on the Committee on Land Use and the Committee on Housing and Buildings, thereby being able to continue to push his efforts for more affordable housing for working New Yorkers and seniors.

The Riverside complex "is still beautiful to this day," Levin said. "It shows that you can have your cake and eat it too. You can have affordable housing and maintain the quality of the neighborhood."

He said that "we’re looking at a ton of issues and ways to be creative" in addressing them. He underscored his opposition to two construction projects that the Willowtown Association has sought to stop–a commercial parking facility on the Riverside property and luxury housing in the new Brooklyn Bridge Park. "The park is a public space," he said. "Housing in the park makes it private."

Annual Meeting Elects Association’s Officers and Directors for 2010

Ben Bankson of 14 Willow Place was elected the new president of the Willowtown Association by acclamation at its 2009 annual meeting November 10 at the A.T. White Community Center. A retired editor and writer in the church press field, he served as the association’s secretary for the past four years. He is a native of Sioux City, Iowa, and has lived on Willow Place since 1975.

Bankson succeeds Craig Bickerstaff of 21 State Street, president for the past four years. Because of the association’s term limits for its four officers, Bickerstaff was ineligible to run again.

Elected the new secretary was Stephanie Zancolli, also of 21 State Street, who previously served as a director of the association. A project manager, she is a native of Brooklyn and wife of Craig Bickerstaff. The couple have lived in Willowtown for the past 13 years.

Reelected vice president was Linda De Rosa of 47 Joralemon Street. She held this office for the past year and previously was a director. She runs her own business in Manhattan designing and selling leather handbags and accessories. She was raised on Union Street in Brooklyn and has lived in Brooklyn Heights for 28 years and in Willowtown for six.

Reelected treasurer was C. Andrew "Andy" Reynolds of 37 Joralemon Street. He too held this office for the past year and previously was a director. A retired computer consultant, he is a native of Rockville Center on Long Island and has lived in Willowtown since 1984.

Newly elected as one of the association’s eight directors was Elizabeth "Libby" Cooper of 30 Columbia Place. She is an architect who comes from Huntington also on Long Island and has lived in Willowtown for the past three years.

Elected a director after an absence of three years on the association’s board was William "Bill" Newbury of 23 Willow Place. He works in investment research. He is a native of Concord, Mass., and has lived in Willowtown since 1991.

Elected a director after an absence of one year was William "Bill" Ringler of 10 Columbia Place. He is a former advertising print production manager and copywriter. He comes from Richmond, Va., and has lived in Willowtown since 1979.

Reelected as directors were:

+ Jean A. Campbell, also of 10 Columbia Place, a language specialist and teacher of translation. Her hometowns are Western Springs and Westmont, Ill. She has lived in Willowtown since 1973.

+ Franklin Ciaccio of 43 Joralemon Street, a counsel with the law firm King & Spalding in his native Manhattan. He has lived in Brooklyn Heights since 1966 and Willowtown since 1970.

+ Mary Goodman of 10 Willow Place, an executive recruiter who formerly worked on the business side of magazine and newspaper publishing. She comes from Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., and has called Brooklyn home for 20 years and Willowtown for eight.

+ Joseph "Joe" Merz of 48 Willow Place, also an architect. He is a native of Queens who has lived in Willowtown for the past 40 years.

+ Seth Murphy, also of 37 Joralemon Street, a web developer and programmer currently with the Center to Advance Palliative Care at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan. He comes from Port Jefferson on Long Island and Kennebunk, Maine, and has lived in Willowtown since 1998.

The officers and directors all have one-year terms.

A High Privilege

Every resident of Willowtown probably feels highly privileged to live in this special place with its rich history. The Willowtown Association has served the neighborhood for more than 50 years, seeking always to address issues that impact the quality of our lives and to be a collective voice and advocate for the residents. As the association’s new president, I will work with our board to see that we continue to carry out this good work. Thank-you for your support, and do not hesitate to alert us to any issues of concern to you.

Ben Bankson