Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI) is the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization planning for the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway and its long-term stewardship.
BGI’s three co-founders have worked for more than a decade to make this community-driven vision a reality. Milton Puryear, Brian McCormick, and Meg Fellerath met as neighbors living in the Columbia Waterfront District. Initially, they were leaders of a volunteer task force focused on improving a proposed waterfront trail. Soon, this team began to secure support for a larger vision.
Regional Plan Association (RPA), a regional nonprofit planning and advocacy organization, contributed planning assistance. Financial investment from the NYS Department of State and the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office allowed the team to undertake a Phase 1 Conceptual Plan. Congresswoman Nydia M. Velazquez sponsored $14.6 million in federal TEA-LU funding for design and construction of the greenway. Initial commitments for greenway right-of-way were secured from the Port Authority of NY&NJ, NYC Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation.
In 2004, the three co-founders incorporated Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, and over the past eight years BGI has moved from its beginnings as an all-volunteer organization into its current role as a professional 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation spearheading the planning, implementation and stewardship of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. As the nonprofit organization leading this collaborative process, BGI coordinates the participation of public agencies, private property owners, four community boards, and numerous civic organizations and elected officials, while at the same time building awareness and support among the 500,000+ waterfront residents.
Today the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway is a New York City capital project. The greenway is also a new model for urban design that addresses open space and sustainable transportation priorities while bringing needed environmental services to the Brooklyn waterfront. BGI is advancing a vision for a green infrastructure backbone that will, over time, reduce the release of raw sewage into the East River. In addition, BGI is pursuing restoration of native plant communities throughout the watershed.
Going forward, BGI’s primary role will be as the steward of the greenway, and already the organization has taken responsibility for several sections of the route through the Adopt-a-Highway program. BGI has grown into a membership organization with broad-based corporate and community support, and partnerships that span many disciplines.