Prominent Brooklyn Heights civic leader announces resignation – Brooklyn Paper

Prominent Brooklyn Heights civic leader announces resignation

Stepping down: The executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association will resign from his post by the end of June, according to a sudden announcement by the storied civic group, which said he will attend to a health issue within his family.
Katherine Davis

He’s signing off.

The leader of the Brooklyn Heights Association will step down after almost four years on the job by the end of June, according to a sudden announcement by the organization.

The storied civic group’s executive director Peter Bray will leave his post to commit more time to a serious health issue within his family, association reps said in a statement released late Friday evening.

“The Brooklyn Heights Association announces, with much regret, that it has begun a search for a new Executive Director to replace Peter Bray, who will be leaving his post at the end of June to attend to a serious health issue within his family,” the release read.

Bray has been at the helm of the organization during some of its most high-profile battles, such as its opposition to the city’s planned reconstruction of the beleaguered Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the closure of the prison complex on Rikers Island, which is slated to see the move of some 1,400 inmates to the House of Detention in Boerum Hill, and numerous landmarking efforts in the historical nabe.

He joined the civic group in the summer of 2015 after more than two decades of working for affordable housing and access to credit unions in the Bronx.

The Park Sloper has also worked for years with his local neighborhood civic group the Park Slope Civic Council, where he remains active to this day.

He decided to take the helm of the Heights organization due to its long track record of advocating for the historic neighborhood since its inception in 1910.

“It has this incredibly storied history, in many respects it’s the premier neighborhood association in New York City,” he told this paper.

The association claims to have convinced Robert Moses to reroute the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway from going through the Heights to its perimeter overlooking the East River in the 1940s.

It also championed the designation of the neighborhood as the city’s first Historic District in 1965, and advocated for the establishment of Brooklyn Bridge Park during the 2000s.

Most recently, the association has been on the forefront of grass-roots efforts to dissuade the Department of Transportation from its plan, which it announced last September, to repair the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway’s triple-cantilever by constructing a six-lane highway along the beloved Promenade on the top level of the crumbling structure.

The group partnered with architect Marc Wouters to offer an alternative plan to construct a parallel roadway along the hilly mounds of Brooklyn Bridge Park, which would spare the scenic walkway.

The department has since told community leaders it is reconsidering its plans given the numerous alternatives that have recently emerged, including a plan by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer to build a park along some of the roadway, a reported scheme to turn it into a three-level park inspired by Manhattan’s High Line, or Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s idea to tear down the triple-cantilever altogether.

The reconstruction and the jail relocation will remain top on the list for Bray’s remaining three months at the organization, he said, adding that the roadway in particular will dominate the association’s mission long after he leaves.

“The BQE is unquestionably going to be our priority, not only for the next several months but also several months after that,” Bray said.

The civic honcho will leave his position to focus more on health issues within his family, which he said have worsened in recent months.

“My number one priority is to focus on the health needs of my family,” Bray said. “It’s something we’ve been dealing with a number of years but it has gotten worse over the last few months.”

But the community organizer is not going to hang up his activism hat just yet, and will stay active in the community after he leaves the job, he said.

“Advocacy on a grass roots level is part of my DNA as a person and I fully anticipate that I’ll be active in a number of volunteer causes for many years to come,” he said.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Katherine Davis

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