Honoring Bette Stoltzby Representative Nydia M. Velázquez
Posted on 2015-12-10
of new york
in the house of representatives
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Ms. VELAZQUEZ. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a friend,
neighbor and activist who dedicated her life to improving South
Brooklyn. On November 19, longtime neighborhood activist Bette Stoltz
passed away. This Saturday, Brooklynites will come together to
celebrate the life of this dedicated advocate and leader.
Bette made countless contributions to South Brooklyn, helping bring vitality, energy and entrepreneurship to the area. She worked to sure- up small businesses at a time of disinvestment. She was instrumental to revitalizing Smith Street and helping organize the Merchants Association in the 1980s, which fostered so much cultural life and vibrancy in the area. She organized the Smith Street Festivals in the fall and the Bastille Day Petanque Tournament. She worked tirelessly to ensure Smith Street thrived, and most recently she was organizing to create a Business Improvement District on Smith and nearby Court Streets.
Her efforts extended well beyond the commercial corridors. By starting the South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation and the Red Hook Chamber of Commerce, she worked steadfastly to defend industrial businesses in Red Hook and Gowanus and expand opportunity and commerce throughout Brooklyn. Bette helped organize Friends of Greater Gowanus and served on the EPA Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group, working on multiple fronts to push to remediate and restore the Gowanus Canal in a green, sustainable manner.
Bette created partnerships to connect low-income and public housing residents to businesses and jobs. She created internships for youth and a Culinary Arts Curriculum at the High School for International Studies on Baltic Street. Bette also helped develop adult training programs to better connect people to good-paying jobs in the trades, industry and with local merchants. For years, Bette served as a member of Community Board 6, ensuring her neighbors' voices were heard in development decisions shaping our area's physical, cultural and economic future.
Ultimately, South Brooklyn would not be as vibrant, diverse and culturally rich without Bette's hard work and many endeavors. My thoughts and prayers are with her husband, Michael, her children and her beloved grandchildren.
Mr. Speaker, New York City's communities and, indeed, our local neighborhoods throughout the country are only as strong as the local residents who are willing to put in personal time and effort to organize and improve the areas in which we live. Every community would be lucky to have a community leader as vocal, engaged, dedicated and personally warm as Bette. She leaves behind a proud legacy, one that we will honor by continuing to improve our community. I ask all my colleagues to join me in honoring her memory.