West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 4 | June 27 - July 3, 2007

Barry Benepe, Greenmarket founder, gets Jacobs Award

By Albert Amateau

Barry Benepe, West Village resident and co-founder of the city’s Greenmarket program, is one of two winners of the 2007 Rockefeller Foundation’s Jane Jacobs Medals and $100,000 prize awards.

Benepe, 79, and father of Adrian Benepe, commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation, will receive the Jane Jacobs Medal for Lifetime Leadership at the Sept. 24 celebration of the Municipal Art Society’s exhibit, “Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York.”

Omar Freilla, 33, founder of Green Worker Cooperatives and former program director for Sustainable South Bronx and director of the Transportation Justice Campaign of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, will receive the Jane Jacobs Medal for New Ideas and Activism.

Benepe, an architect and planner, started the Greenmarket program in 1975 with an $800 grant from the America the Beautiful Fund to demonstrate how temporary markets could bring life to streets and create community gathering places on empty lots and underused parks. The program now sponsors farmers markets in more than 30 neighborhoods across all five boroughs.

Benepe also helped found Transportation Alternatives, a civic group that promotes bicycling, walking and public transportation and advocates for car-free parks. He is also an avid bicycle rider.

The medals and $100,000 prizes for 2007 are the inaugural awards by the Rockefeller Foundation and are administered by the Municipal Art Society. In the 1950s, the Rockefeller Foundation initiated an urban design studies program that included a grant to a little-known writer from Greenwich Village, Jane Jacobs, for the research and writing of her book, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” which became a classic. Jacobs died in April 2006 at the age of 89 in Toronto where she lived for the past 40 years.

The selection of Benepe and Freilla for the awards was decided by a jury co-chaired by George Campbell Jr., president of The Cooper Union, and Agnes Gund, art patron and philanthropist.

The jury included David Rockefeller, a trustee of the foundation; Paul Goldberger, New Yorker architecture critic; Bill Aguado of Bronx Council on the Arts; W. Paul Farmer, American Planning Association executive director; Rosalie Genevro, Architectural League of New York executive director; Hong Yee Lee Krakauer of Queens Council on the Arts; John T. Reddick of the Central Park Conservancy; Ronald Shiffman, emeritus director of the Pratt Center for Community Development; and Marilyn J. Taylor, a partner at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in charge of urban design and planning.

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