Street named for Grace Belkin, first CB 8 manager

Belkin family members, Councilman Cohen (2nd row, r), Assemblyman Dinowitz (front, r), former councilwoman June Eisland (front, 2nd from l) and CB 8 members held the commemorative sign honoring the late Grace Belkin.
Photo courtesy of Councilman Andrew Cohen’s Office

To say that Grace Belkin had an enormous influence on Community Board 8 would be an understatement.

Belkin, who died in 2013, helped create CB 8 and guided it with care in her 30 years as the board’s first district manager.

Belkin died at age 82.

On Saturday, October 15, local electeds and community leaders gathered to rename a street in her district in her honor.

The street, now known as Grace Belkin Way, is a stretch of West 246th Street near the intersection of Henry Hudson Parkway.

Belkin had lived in the area for much of her life, according to city officials.

Belkin began as a secretary for the former Community Planning Board 14, which was transformed under the city charter in 1977 to the official city agency now known as Community Board 8.

CB 8 district manager Patricia Manning said Belkin always paid close attention to issues that would impact the well being of the community.

“I was fortunate to work with Grace for 22 years,” Manning said. “She was a great mentor.”

Manning credited Belkin with securing funding for the development of the district’s 197-a plan which she said now serves to stabilize and shape the scale and character of area neighborhoods; as well as working to preserve the city-owned land, located next to John F. Kennedy School Campus, for school construction only.

Belkin also worked to bring a NYC Department of Sanitation salt pile to the district to better clean streets during snow emergencies, she recalled.

The street naming was sponsored by Councilman Andrew Cohen, who cited Belkin’s work on the 197-a Plan, as well as her advocacy for the area’s Special Natural Area District in a statement honoring Belkin.

“Her intervention and strong persuasion led to many capital budget projects reaching fruition, including the Johnson Avenue and Palisade Avenue retaining walls,” Cohen stated. “She was a legend in this area, so it is fitting that she be honored with this street named in her memory.”

Also praising Belkin in the statement were Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Congressman Eliot Engel and Senator Jeff Klein.

“Grace Belkin Way is a small way to remember someone who made such a big impact on this community,” Klein stated. “When generations to come ask about the street’s namesake, they will learn the meaning of dedication and community service.

“Grace served this area with such commitment, spending three decades as a tireless district manager for Community Board 8, and advocating for issues most important to those who live here. She fought for big plans like rezoning and preserving natural areas to everyday concerns from neighbors. This street sign is a reminder of her community devotion,” he concluded.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com.

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