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MAS Announces Winners of 2008 Awards

MAS announced the winners of its Annual Awards honoring individuals and groups that help define what makes New York City great at the MAS annual meeting on Wednesday, July 9. Held at TheTimesCenter, the 2008 MAS Annual Award-winners are: the City’s 311 Customer Service Center; José the Beaver, the first seen in New York since colonial days and a clear symbol of New York city’s improving urban environment; the Long Island City Cultural Alliance; American Ballroom Theater’s Dancing Classrooms; and Solar One Environmental Center.

“This year’s broad spectrum of honorees, including a North American beaver named Jose, demonstrates how diverse the effort in creating a more livable city can be,” said Kent Barwick, president of The Municipal Art Society. “Each of our winners has positively impacted the lives of thousands of New Yorkers in powerful ways that include offering access to local government, cultural enrichment, environmental protection, and personal achievement.”

For 37 years, the Municipal Art Society has bestowed its Annual Awards on outstanding individuals, groups and events that help define the unique character of New York. Nominations were submitted by Municipal Art Society members and reviewed by an awards committee chaired by MAS board member, Lewis Cullman. Committee members included Larry Condon, Justin Rockefeller and MAS board members, Kitty Hawks and Alison Tocci.

Past MAS Annual Award winners include Strand Bookstore, Katz’s Delicatessen, Brooklyn Bridge Park “beach,” the Brooklyn Cyclones, the 9/11 Volunteers, Louise Nevelson, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and many others.

A new addition to this year’s awards ceremony is the third annual Yolanda Garcia Community Planner Award, which will be presented to Rockaway Waterfront Alliance Director, Jeanne DuPont, for her work with the community and local youth to develop long-term planning and redevelopment of the Rockaway Waterfront.

The MAS Planning Center created the Community Planner Award in 2006 to recognize the unsung work of grassroots, community-based planners and to showcase their success stories. Named for Yolanda Garcia, the founder of the community organization We Stay/Nos Quedamos, the award commemorates the spirit of Ms. Garcia’s proactive work in the south Bronx to revitalize the neighborhood through community organizing and planning. Recipients are self-taught planners with no formal or academic training in planning.

MAS will also present the W. Allison and Elizabeth Stubbs Davis Award to a deserving employee of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. This year, MAS salutes Andrea Williams, Recreation Director of St. John’s Recreation Center for her devotion to the youth of Brooklyn and New York City.

Below are detailed descriptions of this year’s honorees:

311 Customer Service Center – Launched in 2003, 311 now receives over 40,000 calls per day. Whether it’s locating a wallet left in the back of a cab, getting graffiti removed, or complaining about a pothole, 311 is New York City’s one-stop-shop for information about government services from a live operator and hands on results.

José the Beaver – In early 2007, the return of a North American beaver to the Bronx River, symbolized the success of an enormous rehabilitation effort that has extended over three decades. The beaver was named José after Bronx United States Representative José E. Serrano to recognize his efforts in obtaining $15 million in federal funds to clean up the river.

LICCA (Long Island City Cultural Alliance) – Joining together six premier visual and performing arts destinations including the Noguchi Museum, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, and Socrates Sculpture Park, The Long Island City Cultural Alliance has increased the visibility and promoted the accessibility of Long Island City through the publication of maps, street signage, and hosting cultural events.

American Ballroom Theater’s “Dancing Classrooms” – Featured in the highly acclaimed documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom,” Dancing Classroom’s mission is to build social awareness, confidence, and self-esteem in children through the practice of social dance. Dancing Classrooms now encompasses 18,000 students in approximately 180 New York City schools.

Solar One – Located in Stuyvesant Cove Park on the East River, Solar One is a solar powered environmental learning center that hosts extensive cultural and educational programming to raise money for the stewardship of the park. Built on a former brownfield site, Stuyvesant Cove Park and Solar One are excellent examples of waterfront reclamation and the public/private management of public space.

Jeanne DuPont, Director of the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance – Yolanda Garcia Community Planner Award Recipient Jeanne DuPont is director of the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, a community led-organization that promotes public waterfront access in the Rockaways through conservation, education, and recreation. She has worked closely with the community and local youth to develop long-term planning and redevelopment of the Rockaway Waterfront. In 2005, RWA created the Rockaway Waterfront Park Project, which laid the groundwork for the present PLaNYC public park project for Far Rockaway.