A “very productive year” was how Willowtown Association President Ben Bankson characterized 2012 at the association’s annual meeting held Wednesday evening, November 14, at the Alfred T. White Center on Willow Place.  The meeting consisted of a potluck dinner and a celebration of the center’s 50th anniversary. President Bankson cited the following as the year’s highlights:

+ The annual Spring Fair on Saturday, May 19, on Willow Place was well received on a picture-perfect day.  As the association’s main fund-raising effort, the fair realized a net gain of $4,200 for the treasury.  Next year’s fair is set for Saturday, May 18, again on Willow Place.  The hard-working fair committee will begin planning it shortly after the New Year.

+ Under the leadership of Director Melissa Neel, Mickel’s Garden on Columbia Place was beautifully transformed and run smoothly.  Some exciting plans are in the works for several improvements.

+ Prodded by Secretary/Treasurer Bill Newbury, the city planted two new trees in empty pits on Columbia Place and four in all of the empty pits on State Street.  The association has seen to the installation and paid for handsome iron guards around the four on State Street.

+ The board unanimously endorsed renaming the Palmetto Playground on State Street, the Adam Yauch Playground.  This late Beastie Boy used to play basketball on the playground.  Reportedly the name has been changed by the city’s Parks Department, but this remains unconfirmed.

+ The association has formed two new committees.  The Business Improvement Committee chaired by Bill Newbury has already dealt with two issues involving the businesses on Columbia Place.  The Joralemon Street Closure Committee chaired by Linda De Rosa is finally seeking action in partnership with the Brooklyn Heights Association on what was in the General Project Plan for Brooklyn Bridge Park from its beginning, the closing of Joralemon at Furman to vehicular traffic.

+ As a gift to the Alfred T. White Center, the association is working on a new outdoor lighting scheme designed by Director Clare Brew, a lighting specialist.  Contributions for this project are welcome and will be gratefully received.

The main business of the meeting was to elect the association’s 12 directors for 2013.  The ballot presented by Director Frank Ciaccio, chair of the nominating committee, was approved by acclamation.  Newly elected was Giovanna Fadda of 32 Joralemon Street.  She is a native of the Sardinia region of Italy who with her husband Andrea Mocci opened the River Deli restaurant at the corner of Joralemon and Columbia Place in 2010 and at the same time moved to the Riverside Apartments from Manhattan.  Eleven incumbents were reelected (see, Board of Directors, in the “About Us” section).  The directors in turn elect the association’s three officers.



The preview of proposed lighting of the exterior of the Alfred T. White Community Center at 26 Willow Place….Reports on Hurricane Sandy relief efforts by Assemblywoman Joan Millman and City Councilman Steve Levin….Sublime playing of his flute by Director Petr Kotik of the S.E.M. Ensemble….Spirited singing by Mykel Frank of the Heights Players….A tribute to 2012 Alfred Award recipient Noel Collado by Director Cathy Fuerst of Saint Ann’s Preschool….Tasty dishes on the potluck dinner table and lots of wine–these were aspects of a memorable celebration of the 50th anniversary of the center on Wednesday evening, November 14, hosted by the Willowtown Association at the center.  The following remarks by the association’s president, Ben Bankson, provided the framework for the occasion:

Fifty years ago this past summer–on June 8, 1962–a group of 36 Brooklynites held a testimonial dinner in the house at 16 Willow Place to celebrate their accomplishment in giving to “the people of Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill a place for their individual and community projects and programs.”  That place was 26 Willow Place where we are now gathered.  Six months later–on December 16, 1962–what was called the Brooklyn Heights Community Building officially opened.

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