Williamsburg and Greenpoint get new parks honcho

Fifth park death in Greenpoint in 15 months
Photo by Tom Callan

A hot-shot urban planner who cut his teeth designing pedestrian plazas for the Department of Transportation will take a new job overseeing North Brooklyn’s parks and leading the influential Open Space Alliance — six months after the group’s controversial executive director got canned from both gigs.

Starting on March 11, Ed Janoff will be the new face of the Open Space Alliance, which raises cash for parks in Williamsburg and Greenpoint and puts together concerts and programming, and the city’s new administrator for parkland in the area.

He will replace Stephanie Thayer, a community stalwart who turned the Open Space Alliance into a powerful neighborhood player, but lost that spot and her job as North Brooklyn parks honcho last summer amid complaints about noisy concerts, land use, and her dual-role as an advocate for lovers of parkland and for the Parks Department itself.

Brooklyn Brewery boss Steve Hindy, who is chairman of the Open Space Alliance board, said Janoff was the top candidate out of from more than 100 applicants.

“He had some great ideas on how to improve problems in the parks in North Brooklyn,” said Hindy. “With his experience with community groups and the pedestrian plaza program at the Department of Transportation, he’s going to be good at getting more help from the community and more volunteerism.”

Hindy said that Janoff will be in charge of about 35 Open Space Alliance and Parks employees in North Brooklyn.

Janoff declined to talk to The Brooklyn Paper about his appointment until closer to his starting date, but according to his Facebook page he is a Greenpoint resident who studied urban design and architecture at New York University and worked at the Bryant Park Corporation, a group that famously relied on private capital to clean up a Manhattan park.

Kate Zidar, who is the founder of the North Brooklyn Compost Project and the executive director of the Newtown Creek Alliance, said he knows Janoff personally and believes he is capable of bringing great changes to North Brooklyn parks.

“He has a good sense of how the process of change works in New York City,” she said. “He has taken a community-based approach to feasibility and design. That kind of collaborative approach is something that can really get traction in North Brooklyn.”

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.