BHA honors community service

Lasting contributions to the neighborhood’s historic aesthetic received special recognition by the Brooklyn Heights Association at its 100th meeting this week.

Community Service Award recipients included the owners ofthree carefully restored homes — and a gardener whose efforts help keep the Brooklyn Heights Promenade a citywide attraction.

Years ago, the gardens lining the Brooklyn Heights Promenade were among the most beautiful in the city— thanks to its dedicated team of three gardeners. But budget cuts whittled down the number to none, and locals began to take notice.“Think of it, a garden one third of a mile long without its own gardener!” declared public television personality and BHA member Tom Stewart, who presented the awards at the Feb. 23 meeting, held inside Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims.

That’s why the BHA joined the Department of Parks and Recreation in a public-private partnership to help pay for Jonathan Landsman, a full-time gardener assigned exclusively to the Promenade.Landsman and a crew of dozens of local volunteers forming “what is possibly the largest cadre of volunteers of any park in the city — and definitely the most dedicated,” Stewart said. “Under Jonathan’s leadership, they pulled up the weeds and dug up the invasive vines; they composted, they mulched, they pruned, they planted and they transplanted.”

For his efforts, Landsman was given the group’s award for Outstanding Community Service. Landsman, a team player, beckoned a gaggle of volunteers to come forward to accept warm applause from the crowd.

Receiving awards for restoration excellence were Rebecca Carter of 68 Hicks Street, a two and a half story dwelling that dates to 1822, or “really old Brooklyn,” as Stewart called it; Trena Keating and David Pitofsky of 36 Grace Court, which dates from about 1865, and was restored to its mid-nineteenth century appearance; and Peter and Sarah Steinberg of 14 Grace Court Alley, a notable carriage house said to be built for nearby Grace Church.

Because Grace Court Alley is mentioned in travel guide books, the Steinbergs are accustomed to their home receiving (mostly) welcomed attention. “The Steinbergs like to think that they are doing the neighborhood a public service by not having any curtains on the first floor,” Stewart said.“Says Peter, ‘Tourists will wander up to the window, with noses pressed against the glass to get a detailed glimpse of daily life in the Heights and, in some cases, ask to use the bathroom or be given a tour! We need to clean the nose prints off the glass on a weekly basis.’”