The BHB Ten for 2015!

Here, in no particular order, are the people you, the readers, and we nominated for the Brooklyn Heights Ten for the past year, 2015.

Tracy (“Mrs. Fink”) Zamot and daughter Gracie: The sudden and unexpected loss of BHB’s founder, publisher, contributor, and guiding light John “Homer Fink” Loscalzo last April left all of us on the BHB staff in shock and grief, but the keenest loss was to his wife, Tracy, and their then four year old daughter, Gracie (photo by Jason Shaltz). With Tracy’s blessing, we have been able to carry on with the blog, though we miss “Homer’s” always pertinent and often witty contributions, as well as his keen sense of how the on-line world works, and his finger on the pulse of popular culture. As reader Mary commented:

If Homer was the mayor of BK Heights, Mrs. Fink is our first lady. The grace and honesty with which she shared her grief with us, while the neighborhood grieved with her, is deserving of more than this annual fun list. But why not?

We agree, while liking to think this is perhaps more than an “annual fun list”; we also salute Gracie for having endured a terrible loss at a tender age in a manner befitting her name.

Roy Sloane: Yes, he lives in Cobble Hill, but Sloane’s unflagging community advocacy–opposing, though unsuccessfully, the closing of LICH, which served Heights as well as Hill and other nearby residents; fighting against over-development in and around Cobble Hill that would put heavy stress on public facilities and infrastructure on both sides of Atlantic Avenue–drew praise from many readers.

Richard A. Somerby: An architect, interior designer, and contractor, as well as a painter and sculptor, the multi-talented Mr. Somerby, whose office is at 48 Henry Street, has been responsible for several very successful renovations and restorations of houses in Brooklyn Heights. His work at 55 Middagh Street is shown in the video above by our Karl Junkersfeld.

The Public School Advocates: There were several readers who supported including all of the members of the District 13 Community Education Council, who have dealt over the past year with the issue of re-zoning P.S. 8 and P.S. 307, along with many other challenges arising from the rapid population growth in Downtown Brooklyn and nearby areas. Special mention was given to the CEC’s chair, David Goldsmith, a former P.S. 8 PTA president; CEC member and Heights resident Amy Shire; and former P.S. 8 PTA co-president Ansley Samson.

Pepe Romero (HQ)Pepe Montero (photo above, by Heather Quinlan): He’s kept the last of the Heights’ longshoremen’s and sailors’ bars, opened in 1939 and moved once to make way for Robert Moses’ BQE, going since his father’s death some years ago. He may sell to a developer if one comes along willing to pay enough to him and his neighbors along the north side of Atlantic Avenue from Hicks Street down to the BQE on-ramp, but since these buildings are in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District, any developer’s options would be limited. Our guess is that Montero’s has more than a few good years left.

Bjork: She’s bought her ex Matthew Barney’s share of their penthouse at 160 Henry Street, so, unless she’s planning to flip it, it looks like she’s here for a while. She’s also a regular shopper at the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange. And, as reader StudioBrooklyn writes:

The lovely and talented Björk has, in addition to releasing yet another mindblowingly beautiful album “Vulnicura”, helped launch an app for iOS which may contribute to wider participation in new 3D interactivity with recorded media (in other words, VR). And she’s just awesome anyway.

The Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition: the BBAWC has been recommended by our Teresa Genaro because they “do a lot for the homeless/needy pets in the neighborhood.” Having seen their–I hope–successful adoption efforts (I do know that Lauren, manager of the late J. McLaughlin store on Hicks, adopted the kitten she’s shown holding in this post) I can only agree.

Furman BookRobert Furman wrote the book on Brooklyn Heights history. What more can we say? Just what we’ve said here.

Dan Miller: StudioBrooklyn also suggests:

Another neighbor, Dan Miller, has been the lead guitarist for Brooklyn’s “ambassadors of rock” They Might Be Giants since 1998. This year marked a new milestone for the band’s prolific output, releasing something like one new song per week for the entirety of 2015, on top of a busy touring schedule.

Reader BHMommy calls Dan “a nice guy”, and to Mary he’s “a treasure.” Who are we to argue?

IMG_3837Ellie Bishop, and R.I.P. Patti Romp: New Jersey native and Vermont resident Patti Romp began selling Christmas trees in front of Key Food on Montague Street some years ago. See Karl Junkersfeld’s video here of Patti in front of Key Food, made in 2011. In 2014 Patti was too ill to make the trip from Vermont, so her daughter Ellie Bishop (photo) came instead. In October of 2015, we got the sad news of Patti’s death. Ellie was back right after Thanksgiving, with four children and a formidable looking but gentle mastiff named Spartacus. BHMommy sums it up:

I’m a big fan of Ellie, the Christmas tree lady in front of Key Food. She is so lovely and fills the neighborhood with Christmas spirit – even though she is only a Brooklyn Heights resident for 1/12 of the year.

This completes our BHB Ten for 2015. There were several nominees: “Captain Cleanup”; Mary Frost; Sami Rhum of Pet’s Emporium; and Ron Chernow, who weren’t included this year because they have been previous honorees, but that’s not to ignore their continuing contributions to the neighborhood. As we did last year with Judy Stanton, though, we would like to recognize a former honoree, Plymouth Church Historian Lois Rosebrooks, on the occasion of her retirement. The history of Plymouth Church plays a vital role in the history of Brooklyn Heights and of our nation. It is our earnest hope that the church will find a way to keep alive Ms. Rosebrooks’ ministry, and we wish her much happiness in her retirement.

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  • judifrancis

    Todd Castilow deserves a shout-out for his advocacy of PS8 as well. He has done the heavy lifting on school overcrowding especially. And of course, Roy Sloane’s long service for Brooklyn Bridge Park – naming the park, securing the first million dollars to study it (from Eileen Duggan), serving on all its many CAC’s and LDC’s, organizing the first community coalition with Tony Manheim, and the defending it against the unneeded housing, etc. etc. (OK so on the later I am biased). Thanks BHB for recognizing these guys.

  • StudioBrooklyn

    Claude I love that you found probably the most subversive example of a Björk music video for the list! :) Homer Fink left this world WAY too early but when you go we’ll have lost a truly valuable teenager.

  • Slyone

    Todd is and has been great, especially on the BBP-related school advocacy. Former PTA co-president Kim Glickman deserves kudos for her tireless (!!) work as well in 2015. And the BHBlog’s own Beth Eisgrau-Heller deserves credit for her dogged coverage of school-related issues (related to the library redevelopment and BBP, in addition to the PS8 overcrowding meetings that started in 2014, the PS8 waitlist in the spring of 2015, and the rezoning discussions this past fall and winter).

  • Claude Scales
  • born in bklyn hgts

    Nice to see an old-timer in here. Keep up the old spirit, Pepe

  • Mary

    Thank you, Claude, for this important! annual list to recognize the people who help make this neighborhood a special place to live. And thank you for keeping this blog going, along with Beth and Teresa. Can’t imagine life in the Heights without it.

  • Boerum Bill

    Great list! Thank you for taking my Pepe Montero suggestion.