On a day where community leaders are questioning the financial plan for Brooklyn Bridge Park, one of the leaders in making the park a reality announced she’s leaving the fray. Marianna Koval, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy since 1999 will be leaving in June. The full press release after the jump.
Caps a Decade’s Worth of Leadership and Accomplishment
BROOKLYN, March 4, 2009 – The board of directors of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy today announced the resignation of Marianna Koval, its successful long-time president. Koval has expressed her desire to board leaders to move on to new challenges after ten years of service to Brooklyn Bridge Park. She has been the chief executive officer of the organization since 1999 and will leave her position in June 2009.
Under Koval’s leadership, the Conservancy moved successfully to promote and advocate for the waterfront park. Construction began last month on Pier 1 and this portion of the park is scheduled to open at the end of this year. Koval transformed the organization from one that had focused initially on generating public and government support for Brooklyn Bridge Park to one that has helped make that dream a reality. It was during her tenure that the park plan grew to include the waterfront between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, including the Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park and what has become the city’s Main Street park. By adding this land to the park, the City became a partner in the project with the State and has now contributed over $160 million to Brooklyn Bridge Park.
It was during Koval’s tenure that effective Conservancy advocacy helped the city and state decide in May 2002 to fund and build Brooklyn Bridge Park. With total commitments of $150 million ($85 million from the State and $65 million from the city) the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, a subsidiary of Empire State Development Corporation, was created to design and build the park. An additional $80 million was added by the city in 2008.
Over the past ten years, Koval brought imaginative and popular programming to the future park site. This included most notably the annual outdoor film series “Movies with a View,” the Floating Swimming Pool at Brooklyn Bridge Park Beach in 2007, and last summer’s “Pop-Up Park” on Pier 1. Working in partnership with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, and numerous community groups, the Conservancy has facilitated free public programming enjoyed by more than half a million visitors since 1999 in the beginnings of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Under Koval’s leadership, the Conservancy raised over $10,000,000, which has supported free public programming in the park as well as advocacy, park stewardship, and maintenance. With Koval at the helm, the Conservancy’s budget has grown from $88,000 in 1998 to over $1,100,000 in 2008.
In announcing Koval’s departure, David Kramer, chair of the Conservancy’s board of directors, said, “We are saddened today to inform all those for whom Brooklyn Bridge Park has become an interest and a cause that the board has reluctantly accepted the resignation of Marianna Koval. While many people have played a role in the realization of Brooklyn Bridge Park, it is only because we have followed the leadership and vision of Marianna. Her indefatigable pursuit and infectious spirit helped the organization, the community, the city and state to make possible the building of Brooklyn Bridge Park. We will miss her leadership, but thank her for a decade of immeasurable contributions.”
Explaining her decision, Koval said, “It is the right time to begin a new chapter in my life after ten wonderful years working on this extraordinary project. Park construction has begun under the effective leadership of Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation President Regina Myer, and the Conservancy board and staff are committed, strong, and primed to continue providing invaluable support for Brooklyn Bridge Park. A park is finally, truly growing in Brooklyn, and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to help make it happen.”
“Marianna has been the soul of Brooklyn Bridge Park. She has provided a voice for the myriad groups who will use it in years to come, and ensuring that a lively and diverse set of activities have been available to people using the park today,” said Tensie Whelan, current vice chair and former executive director and chair of the Conservancy. “Working day and night, Marianna has rallied enormous public support for the vision of a joyous, active, and iconic park that will be a wonder of the world when completed.”
“When it comes to the world of civic improvement, there are typically two types of people: ‘doers’ and ‘dreamers.’ Marianna Koval, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, embodies both characteristics splendidly,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “She’s a ‘hands-on’ lady who can both commandeer the park’s annual film series with military precision and shepherd the hugest of ideas to fruition—no one will ever forget the magic of the Floating Pool! Marianna is a true Brooklyn original. We are so very thankful for her leadership over the past ten years and wish her all the best on her future endeavors.”
“Over the past decade, Marianna has brought the community together to advocate and work for the development of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Thanks to her vision and hard work, our neighbors enjoy the beginning stages of the park, as well as a host of cultural, educational and recreational programs. We will follow in her footsteps to realize the dream of bringing a world-class park to Brooklyn’s waterfront,” Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez said.
“New York is grateful to Marianna for her decade of service and devotion to Brooklyn Bridge Park,” said New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “As a tireless advocate, Marianna’s vision has brought hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Brooklyn waterfront and led the way to the creation of New York City’s next great park.”
“As President of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, Marianna Koval has demonstrated incredible dedication to her community. For years Marianna led the charge to transform our Brooklyn waterfront into one of the greatest parkland escapes in the city. She truly turned this park from a dream into reality. Our community is indebted to her, for her perseverance and unparalleled commitment to this project and our borough,” said New York City Councilmember Bill de Blasio.
“Marianna Koval has been one of Brooklyn Bridge Park’s staunchest supporters,” said Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation President Regina Myer. “Marianna has been a driving force in advocating for this park, demonstrating her enduring commitment to revitalizing Brooklyn’s waterfront through dynamic leadership. Under her guidance, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy brought engaging and innovative programming such as the Floating Pool at Brooklyn Bridge Park Beach and the Summer ’08 @ Pier 1 project to all New Yorkers. We are incredibly appreciative of Marianna’s dedication to this project.”
“Marianna Koval has led the civic efforts to get Brooklyn Bridge Park from the realm of fantasy to actual construction,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “With her leadership, the Conservancy created and sponsored a huge variety of events that brought cultural offerings and tens of thousands of visitors to the emerging Brooklyn Bridge Park waterfront. Ms. Koval can be very proud of all she has accomplished, and how well the table has been set for the future of Brooklyn Bridge Park.”
“The Conservancy recognized Marianna’s passion for Brooklyn Bridge Park from the first day we hired her,” said John Watts, former chair of the Conservancy. “Over the past ten years Marianna has proven to be a visionary leader and advocate, building an extraordinary organization with a strong board and staff. By bringing thousands of people to an under-utilized waterfront, Marianna has been instrumental in building the political support to fund and build Brooklyn Bridge Park. The park’s construction has now begun; Marianna has played in a critical role reaching that goal.”
The Conservancy’s Board will soon announce its plan for the transition to new executive leadership.
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About the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy
The Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy has worked for more than twenty years to ensure the creation, adequate funding, proper maintenance, public support, and citizen enjoyment of Brooklyn Bridge Park through partnership with the public sector, development of programming, and active promotion of the needs of the park and its constituents. Since 2000, more than half a million visitors have enjoyed the Conservancy’s free, public programs in the beginnings of Brooklyn Bridge Park. For more information, visit www.brooklynbridgepark.org