Maria Pagano loves Carroll Gardens. She loves living in a neighborhood that has a small town feel, but also big city issues. She has been here for more than 30 years.
As President of the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association, and a member since it was a one-block only group (1st Place between Court and Smith streets), Pagano has seen the neighborhood change and grow.
In 1990 or 1991, (Pagano couldn't remember exactly which year) a series of muggings of older women occured on 1st Place, and the 1st Place Association was born. The name was changed in the late 90s, after more and more people joined from other blocks.
For Pagano, neighborhood associations are crucial to the well-being of a community.
"People need a place where they can publicly air their problems," she said.
While the Association historically didn't take a position on political issues, the current CGNA does, mostly related to land use, education and recreation.
Questions for Maria Pagano
1. What do you like best about Carroll Gardens?
Scale. You can see the sky, there are people on the sidewalk. Some buildings are short, you're not crowded or crushed. Also, the food selections. We can get Thai, Vietnamese, Italian food from 50 different areas.
2. Currently, what is your favorite restaurant in the neighborhood?
for breakfast. It's hard to decide if you're someone like me. It depends on the day. I love the coffee.
3. Where do you like to shop for food?
I like bread from different places, depending on what I need. I consider myself lucky to be able to choose! Though it's a little hard to find whole wheat Thomas' English Muffins.
4. Are you afraid of the Gowanus Canal?
No! It's being taken care of, because the EPA is cleaning it up. Unless of course there was some sort of transitional creature! I'm hoping to be on the archaelogy committee of the CAG (Community Advisory Group), that stuff fascinates me.
5. What's the best (or worst) change you've witnessed during your time in the neighborhood?
The community involvement. There's more and more people getting tuned in and making a difference one way or another in some aspects of quality of life.