The event recognized Bernie Ente with a posthumous award for his contributions to the alliance. A member of the organization who passed away one year prior, Ente was remembered for his works as a photographer, historian, community leader and strong advocate of the creek.
He was also involved with the Working Harbor Committee, an organization that helps educate individuals regarding the need to secure safe harbors.
“Bernie laid the foundation for creating a visual record of Newtown Creek,” said Kate Zidar, executive director of the group. “And we're honoring him with this award.”
Looking at the past 10 years, Zidar discussed the NCA's accomplishments, including battling with ExxonMobil over taking responsibility for a 17-million underground oil spill in Greenpoint.
In 2010, Newtown Creek was designated as a Federal Superfund Site, meaning the Environmental Protection Agency would oversee a cleanup of the waterway. Sites on and around Newtown Creek were also designated as a Brownfield Opportunity Area.
Zidar emphasized that while a primary focus of the first 10 years was gaining press for the creek and educating people about the area, upcoming years would focus on maintaining and improving Newtown Creek and the surrounding area.
Zidar said that with the Superfund designation, the organization would have the opportunity to do some long-term planning for the health of the creek and its upland businesses and residential communities.
“We have opened a new chapter of progressive planning for the creek - bulkhead restoration and wetlands investment, building new habitat and mitigating sewer overflows,” she said.