WILLIAMSBURG — A new leader of North Brooklyn's parks has been appointed after six months with no director of the neighborhood's open spaces.
Edward Janoff — a current Department of Transportation employee with years' experience managing public plazas and parks — will become the Parks Department's North Brooklyn administrator and the executive director of the local non-profit Open Space Alliance, DNAinfo.com has learned.
"I think he's going to be a fantastic administrator and executive director and that our organization is in a wonderful spot," said Stephen Hindy, the chair of the board at OSA, which fundraises for North Brooklyn parks, organizes outdoor concerts, and provides other support for the Parks Department. "We're relieved to get a lead person."
Janoff replaces Stephanie Thayer, who was dismissed in August from the same dual post as administrator for North Brooklyn Parks and executive director of the Open Space Alliance. Hindy said the appointment had taken six months because of stringent city requirements for Parks and OSA members in selecting their next leader.
And Hindy — who also owns the local mainstay Brooklyn Brewery — said that among a slew of applicants, Janoff seemed like an ideal match for the responsibility.
Janoff — a Greenpoint resident, Hindy noted — has spent the past five years as the DOT's public space operations manager, helping coordinate the New York City public plaza program, Hindy said.
And before joining the DOT Janoff worked as the streetscape mainentance for the Bryant Park Corporation so he "was involved with the ice rink, concerts and film festival" in the Midtown park, Hindy said.
Avid park users in North Brooklyn said they hoped the new leadership would help ensure better upkeep of the neighborhood's open spaces and would guarantee that plans for McCarren Park's ice skating rink and other initiatives would stay on track.
"It sounds like [Janoff] has good experience for the job," said Michael Smolinsky, a member of the local group Friends and Family of McCarren Park. "I was hoping they'd hire someone with more experience managing public space [than the past director]," Smolinsky said.
And Julia Morrow, a former staff member at Open Space Alliance, said she hoped the organization would make its role more known in order to raise funds and awareness at the parks.
"There should be more of a presence," said Morrow of OSA.
But vocal parkgoer Kevin Dailey, who organizes Brooklyn Kickball, said that OSA's work had been fruitless and that he saw no hope in the new leadership.
"There are no tangible results of OSA's presence in the park, all they do is run concerts," said Dailey of the organization's summer concert series at 50 Kent Avenue. "It's not about somebody's capabilities or talents, it's about where their focus is. And since OSA has been the guardian of our parks we don't know what they do other than promote concerts."
Hindy said that, with OSA's new leadership, the organization would turn its focus primarily to park maintenance, but would continue its concerts and would open its planned ice skating rink in McCarren Pool next winter.
"Apart from our staff, which is very small, we're all volunteers...I don't think anyone in a volunteer organization like this can please everyone in North Brooklyn," Hindy said of the criticism. "But we are going to be much more focused on day-to-day maintenance of parks. We've heard that [complaint] from the community and that's going to be our focus."