It’s Hammer-time: Former Park Slope civic guru making waves in Brighton Beach

It’s Hammer-time: Former Park Slope civic guru making waves in Brighton Beach
Photo by Derrick Watterson

The former top staff member of Brownstone Brooklyn’s Community Board 6 has moved to Brighton Beach after resigning amid a flurry of stalking and forgery indictments, and the one-time civil servant is now busy promoting numerous traffic safety initiatives in his newfound home.

“As a resident of southern Brooklyn, I can testify firsthand how dangerous it is out here for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike,” Craig Hammerman wrote in an Oct. 4 email to the Department of Transportation.

The one-time district manager sent Brooklyn Transit Commissioner Keith Bray a comprehensive proposal for transforming Brighton 11th Street from a two-way thoroughfare to a one-way artery heading south on Oct. 4, claiming the move would enhance pedestrian safety for the area’s large senior community.

The civic guru’s pitch included an analysis of demographics and the surrounding street grid, a list of safety concerns, and a breakdown of the proposed changes, which Hammerman’s Coney Island counterpart, Community Board 13 District Manager Eddie Mark, said reflected the former CB6 staffer’s decades of experience.

“He’s a former district manager,” said Mark. “He knows the ins and outs of approaching a problem like this.”

Hammerman formerly served residents of Park Slope, Red Hook, Gowanus, and other Brownstone neighborhoods as a Community Board 6 staffer for 27 years, working his way up the ranks to become district manager, where he pulled a hefty six-figure salary helping board members navigate the city’s bureaucracy and advocate for local causes.

However, the high-paid civil servant was forced to resign in 2017 amid a series of scandals, including his two arrests for allegedly stalking his ex girlfriend, and his indictment on forgery charges after District Attorney Eric Gonzalez accused him of using a rubber stamp bearing then Chairman Sayar Lonial’s signature to provide himself with raises.

Hammerman beat the district attorney’s office not once, but twice — bucking the stalking charges and beating the forgery indictment at trial — and the former district manager fled his longtime home in Park Slope seeking a fresh start in Brighton Beach.

“I always wanted to live by the beach,” Hammerman said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation said the agency would not consider the Brighton 11th Street proposal until Community Board 13 — which comprises Brighton Beach and Gravesend, along with Coney Island — endorsed the initiative, and the board is scheduled to discuss Hammerman’s proposal at a meeting on Nov. 14.

Meanwhile members of the Coney Island community board voted unanimously to approve the installation of additional street lighting and the construction of curb extensions along Brighton Beach Avenue — two other initiatives that Hammerman proposed at a meeting on Oct. 23.

Before the meeting, Mark suspected that local board members might take issue with the forward-thinking civic guru from progressive Park Slope, saying southern Brooklyn moves at a slower pace than its neighbors to the north.

“As you know he comes from Park Slope and Red Hook, where people are more active, whereas down here they don’t advocate as much for things like this,” said Mark.

But Hammerman claims the city has largely ignored southern Brooklyn’s traffic-safety woes in favor of the borough’s progressive enclaves further north, and said he couldn’t help but demand action.

“If it is good enough for Brownstone Brooklyn then it is good enough for southern Brooklyn,” said Hammerman. “The bottom line is something must be done to improve traffic safety there.”

Reach reporter Jessica Parks at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jparks@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @_JessicaParks.