Gary Reilly decided Carroll Gardens was the place for him on an early walk from a friends place to the F train on Smith Street. It was 2004.
He remembered thinking, "this is just perfect" and liking the low scale of the buildings.
And since 2004, Reilly has been actively involved in the neighborhood that he fell in love with. He's a member of Community Board 6 and the treasurer and chair of the Finance/Personnel and Law Committee and the Chair of the Environmental Protection Committee, as well as a member of the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association.
Reilly said his interest in public service was first piqued when he was a child catching frogs in South Jersey. He said he realized that anyplace that was built-up was "bad for amphibians."
He started attending community meetings in 2006, he said, and then started volunteering. An issue that he became involved with quickly was the F train and its functionality. The tracks were being repaired, he said, and there was some discussion about re-instating the express train on the line. The tracks are already there, he added.
He drafted a petition and in a week had over 1,500 signatures, a number that eventually grew to 4,500. He even started a blog, First and Court.
The bug had bitten him.
"My whole life I've been looking for a place, looking for a spot that fit for me," he said. "I always wanted to be involved, but I didn't have roots. Once we settled in here, I knew we'd stay as long as we could."
Questions for Gary Reilly
1. What do you like best about Carroll Gardens?
The people that have embraced us and welcomed us. Or, the quiet, walkable residential character of the neighborhood. It's close!
2. Currently, what is your favorite restaurant in the neighborhood?
We have a few neighborhood standby's. In no particular order: , for slices, , , . Mia [Reilly's wife] loves .
3. Where do you like to shop for food?
For starters, we like to bulk shop at Fairway. But there are certain things, like marinated mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, that are not as good anywhere as they are at . We go to for bread. The Korean Deli between 3rd and 4th Place...
4. Are you afraid of the Gowanus Canal?
No. I wouldn't go for a swim in it! But it's an interesting place to go and look around. Ultimately, the Superfund cleanup is going to be successful. I would like to see the city commit to cleaning up the CSO issue.
5. What's the best (or worst) change you've witnessed during your time in the neighborhood?
The best change is the addition of the sidewalk extensions at Bergen and Union streets. They cut down on the distance that people have to cross the streets, it makes the intersections safer.