Bay Ridge activists gathered together to celebrate their achievements last Saturday at an annual event whose guest list reads like a “Who’s Who” of the neighborhood.
About 150 community luminaries braved what was left of Thursday’s snow to attend the Bay Ridge Community Council’s Presidents’ Luncheon and toast each other, looking back at previous successes and ahead to upcoming endeavors.
“It’s about the present, the pat and hopefully the future,” said Arlene Keating, the organization’s executive secretary as she introduced speakers to the crowd at the Bay Ridge Manor, on 76th Street near Fifth Avenue.
The Council’s efforts are key to ensuring a bright future for Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Fort Hamilton, said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York).
“Bay Ridge is a great neighborhood,” he said. “We have got to keep it strong and we have got to serve it and your civic association does an amazing job.”
From across the aisle, Rep. Michael Grimm (R–Bay Ridge) also sang the community’s praises.
“When I think of the sacrifices made by the people in this room every day, every week, that’s remarkable,” he said. “This is one of the most sought-after communities, not just because houses maintain their values, not just because of the brownstones, but because of you.”
The “you,” in this case, are the presidents and delegates of about 100 community groups, including civic associations, PTAs, block associations, church groups, and a laundry list of other organizations such as the Bay Ridge Rod and Gun Club, the Bay Ridge Lions Club, and the Bay Ridge Historical Society whose membership in the community council fulfills the vision of Walter and Vincent Kassenbrock, who came up with the idea of an umbrella organization to serve the neighborhood 60 years ago.
“Without its membership, the council wouldn’t exist,” said Alex Conti, who is serving as the group’s president for the second time.
A former council president added his own hip-hip hooray for the organization. “Three cheers for the Bay Ridge Community Council,” said Councilman Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge), who cut his teeth in community service with the Bay Ridge Community Council, and took the group’s helm before running for office.