Judy Stanton has been the Executive Director of the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) since 1989. The BHA was formed in 1910 at a “boisterous community meeting” and has been the organized voice of the Heights for more than 100 years. Stanton is retiring this year; a search for a successor is in progress.
When and why did you move to the Heights?
My husband and I arrived in Brooklyn Heights in 1969 after living in Paris. Our time in Paris influenced our choice: We had been used to living in a beautiful place, and as soon as we saw Brooklyn Heights it was love at first sight. Our first apartment was a tiny co-op on Columbia Heights. In 1972, planning for a family, we went house hunting and when we took one look at this row house built in 1893 and the kids who lived two doors down playing in the street, we were won over. We have been here ever since.
What do you like best about the Heights?
It feels so self-contained, much like a small town. It has a strong sense of place. It’s not just the buildings that I love but also the feeling of something shared with neighbors, of friendliness, of a neighborhood of families. We have fewer mom-and-pop stores now than we used to but the merchants are still civically engaged, and I am proud of the fact that we are the kind of neighborhood that has a group of clergymen from the churches and synagogues and mosque in the neighborhood who get together monthly to talk over lunch.
What do you see in the future for the Heights?
The neighborhood will become denser. Because the zoning around us is quite generous, new buildings will replace some of the older ones on Montague Street and Cadman Plaza, which will mean that our streets will be more crowded and P.S. 8, our public school, which is already overcrowded, will face an even bigger challenge. In time, the neighborhood may feel less small, but happily the scale of the buildings in much of Brooklyn Heights will stay protected by the 50-foot height regulation and restrictions placed on changes to facades by the Landmark Law.