What better place to celebrate Earth Day than in the Garden Spot, and on Thursday afternoon Greenpoint-based Broadway Stages kicked off their very own brownfield cleanup effort as part of their ongoing environmental initiative, Urban Re-Gen.
Crowds of volunteers gathered outside of Broadway Stages on Kingsland Avenue—donning Urban Re-Gen T-shirts with plantable tags and clutching an array of rakes, hoes and shovels— to remove garbage, pull weeds and clear the site of a brown field in order to pave the way for a brand new soundstage. As cars lumbered down a newly smoothed Monitor Street—just two weeks ago the notoriously chewed up strip was repaved, thanks to the efforts of Broadway Stages brother and sister team Gina and Tony Argento, as well as Assemblyman Joe Lentol—and pulled into the parking lot, the Argentos were already hard at work.
“This new stage, which we hope will be ready by the end of 2010, will provide so many jobs, and really create a flux in the economy, so people can come here, work and support the mom n’ pop shops in Greenpoint,” Gina Argento said.
“I’m here seven days a week, so I want to see it clean!” Tony Argento added.
Among the dozens of volunteers were Mark Samowitz, owner of local production company Expendibles Plus, and Jim Miller of Local 52, both of whom credit the Argentos with their success, and their desire to spend as much time as possible in Greenpoint.
“I’m trying to relocate from Manhattan to Greenpoint,” Miller said. “Why? Because the Argentos picked Greenpoint. We need to support the economy, the infrastructure and the film tax credits that our state elected officials have worked so hard to get us. New York used to have so much industry, jobs that allowed people to shop in local stores. Without the Argentos, and the film industry, we’d be in a lot worse shape.”
After cleaning up Kingsland, volunteers, noted elected officials and community leaders made their way back to the Broadway Stages headquarters, where the Argentos hosted a ceremony in honor of four community groups and two individuals, who received Urban Heroes awards. The recipients were Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee Chair Christine Halowacz, EWVIDCO Executive Director Leah Archibald, and four organizations including NAG, the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, CheVistas of El Puente and Parks and Trails New York.
“These people have done so much for the community,” Gina Argento said. “Christine has done so much and Leah has been so helpful. Joe Lentol is a gem, helping and guiding us. The community here, the locals, they are everything.”
Other attendees including Councilmember Stephen Levin, Assemblyman Lentol—equipped with baby trees, which he gave to the El Puente CheVistas—Assemblyman Steven Englebright and representatives from Senators Martin Milave Dilan and Daniel Squadron.