Located in the heart of Greenpoint is a park named for longtime neighborhood advocate Monsignor McGolrick, an Irish pastor who became a major community figure in the late 1800s. These days, the Greenpoint area has a new community leader. Her name is Konstancja Maleszyńska.
She works for the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn, a non-profit that partners with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to help “fill the gaps” that result from underfunding and understaffing within the city department. One of her current projects is organizing monthly “Saturday Sweeps” of McGolrick Park, where neighbors can come meet one another and work together to pick up litter.
“My role is not just to have people come and help in the park, which of course is a goal, but it’s more about creating a larger sense of community,” Maleszyńska said.
The northern boundary of Brooklyn is Newtown Creek, a small river that is an EPA Superfund site. According to Maleszyńska, Greenpoint is full of activists who have sought environmental improvement for a long time.
Now, these neighbors have a chance to work together to beautify their green spaces like McGolrick and other parks. OSANB works to maintain 45 parks and playgrounds in North Brooklyn.
Greenpoint resident Erika Jozwiak frequents McGolrick Park. She said it made her “feel like less of a transplant coming into the neighborhood.”
“This park is one of the main reasons that I feel comfortable in New York City,” Jozwiak said.
Jozwiak volunteers with the Open Space Alliance whenever she can, including the Saturday Sweeps events. It’s a great way to meet your like-minded neighbors, she said.
“I certainly think that the people who go [to OSA events] are community-minded and are wanting to take care of the space that we all share,” Jozwiak said. “I think that in some ways that goes hand in hand with environmentalism and being sustainably minded, but I also don’t think that everybody there is some green hippie person, they just really genuinely care about this place and that’s really beautiful to see.”
You can learn more about the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn (and find out when the next Saturday Sweep will take place).