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Ch-ch-ch-changes: Bowie is new president of Heights Association

New Brooklyn Heights Association president Alexandra Bowie sits in Brooklyn Bridge Park — a likely priority for the new public figure during her tenure as head of the venerable advocacy organization.
Photo by Jaime Lutz

She’s under pressure.

Alexandra Bowie — a freelance grant writer, fiction writer, blogger, mother, and wife — is now the new president of the neighborhood watchdog group the Brooklyn Heights Association.

The newly elected neighborhood activist will replace Jane McGroarty as the association rallies to oppose the likely shutdown of Long Island College Hospital, prepares to host a mayoral forum, and tries to influence the direction of the Brooklyn Public Library’s new planned Brooklyn Heights branch and the development of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

In other words, she has gotten rather busy lately.

If all of that wasn’t enough, Bowie is also trying to garner neighborhood support to make Brooklyn Heights a “slow zone” — reducing the speed limit from 30 to 20 miles per hour.

It’s this last initiative that may be closest to Bowie’s heart — she was friends with fellow Heights Association executive board member Martha Atwater, who was killed by a truck jumped the curb at the intersection of Clinton and Atlantic avenues in February.

But to get the city to make the community a slow zone, Bowie needs to prove that there is neighborhood support for such a move, which might be the hardest part of her new job.

“I’d like to improve our communications,” said Bowie, who joined the organization’s board in 2004.

“I’d like to see our membership increase.”

To that end, Bowie is decentralizing the association’s communication efforts, focusing on social media like Facebook and Twitter to “get the short word out an what we’re doing.”

She used those tools to organize community meet-ups at hangouts like Vineapple Cafe.

No one showed up to the first meeting at the end of March, but she is hoping that changes.

“I know some people think we’re about the buildings, but Brooklyn Heights Association is about the people,” she said.

“We try to look at what the city is doing and nudge or push them toward what is better,” she added.

The Bloomington, Ind., native has lived in Brooklyn since 1986 and Brooklyn Heights since 1988.

She got involved with the Brooklyn Heights Association until 15 years ago when she became annoyed by a Home Depot shopping cart chained nearby her home. After calling police, the fire department, and sanitation — these were the days before 311 — Bowie finally phoned Brooklyn Heights Association executive director extraordinaire Judy Stanton.

Stanton didn’t remove the cart (it disappeared a while later), but her dry sense of humor and verve made an impression on Bowie.

“She’s such an asset,” Bowie said about Stanton. “She knows everyone and everything.”

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.

Alexandra Bowie is the new president of the Brooklyn Heights Association — a community group with a great deal of influence in the neighborhood bounded by the Promenade and Borough Hall.
The Brooklyn Paper file / Kelly Guenther

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