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Growing With Boerum Hill

The Boerum Hill Association works hard for the neighborhood

As president of the Boerum Hill Association, I occasionally reflect on the mission statement of our association:

The Boerum Hill Association is a volunteer organization of residents of Boerum Hill. We seek to preserve and enhance the unique qualities of our neighborhood through advocacy, education and community building.

That sounds simple enough.

Our current efforts to refine our zoning to more clearly define our existing low-rise brownstone scale will do much to preserve our neighborhood as it is.

We've advocated for renovation of the 16 Sycamores Playground including the re-opening of the comfort station. This will certainly enhance Boerum Hill which is extremely

In 2011, we will begin a Traffic Task Force that will look at a wide variety of issues from speeding to trucks to bicycles. We hope to advocate for change and also educate the public about our thoughts. Then we hope to put many of these ideas into action.

And we continue to celebrate our neighborhood through our biennial House Tour, the Annual Pot Luck Holiday Party and numerous Pub Walks. These events bring neighbors together and build our community.

So as I run through this checklist I feel a sense of accomplishment and I also want to see more progress.

Can we open the school playgrounds so that they function as parks after hours and on the weekends? Can we get more corner trash baskets, and if we do, can we get them emptied six days a week? Can we start a summer event, maybe a BBQ competition? How can we be smarter and greener? Can I simply get more neighbors to sign up and pay dues? Can I get more ideas and more people involved?

I have to pause here to mention that I have wonderful board members who take on many of these tasks, smart neighbors with different backgrounds and interest who continue to carry the ball forward. It would be great to have more of them!

The city has been greatly improved over the last 20 years. Drugs, guns and violent crime don't dominate our daily lives as they once did. Those issues brought much community energy literally into the streets. 

While I don't want to see pitchforks and lighted torches, I'd like to mobilize our neighbors more often.

We live in a city that loves big ideas and big businesses but it often needs to be reminded that the people are its greatest asset and that small businesses give back the most in jobs and local flavor. Sometimes we need to be that squeaky wheel if we want to get attention given to our quality of life issues.

I moved to Brooklyn because the low-rise brownstones allow light and air to bless our streets. The scale makes it possible to know your neighbors and shop owners by name. In short, I believe I live in a residential neighborhood not a traffic pass-through or downtown extension.

Let's work to keep it that way. Please make sure to renew your dues to the Boerum Hill Association or if you're new to the "hood," go to our website and download a membership form.

Come to our next General Meeting in January (check our website in early January for the date), meet new people and maybe bring that pitchfork, too!

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Howard Kolins has been President of the BHA for two years. He has spearheaded many board projects: co-chairing the very successful House Tours in 2008 and 2010, serving as the writer and editor of the BHA Newsletter and being the representative on the House of Detention Stakeholders' Committee to name a few. Howard has lived in Boerum Hill for 25 years both as a tenant and an owner. He met his wife, Carol, a retired Rockette, when he was a producer for Radio City Entertainment. They have 2 boys in public schools, MS 447 and Brooklyn Tech. Howard is a self-employed producer of business meetings, special events and galas. His garage is home to the annual Hoyt Street Association Plant Sale.

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