Barbara McCord, Plumb Beach Activist, Gets Street Co-Named In Her Honor

Barbara McCord Way is the new name for Gunnison Court between Brown Street and Batchelder Street, the same block the longtime Plumb Beach advocate Barbara McCord lived on, and on which members of her family still live.

The McCord clan gathers under the sign. (Click to enlarge)

Family, friends and local leaders unveiled the new street sign honoring the former chairwoman of the Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Association Barbara McCord on Sunday, June 3.

A low-sitting quiet block, with one-story homes and no condos, there are few streets like Gunnison Court left in the neighborhood, and the location makes a fitting tribute to a woman who spent much of her life protecting and preserving Plumb Beach’s bungalow colonies and beach-town culture, family, friends and elected leaders agreed.

“She always wanted to keep the community the way it was and to know the neighbors and keep it a great little place that it used to be,” said Lorin McCord-Satzger, McCord’s daughter. “When she set her mind to something to get it done, she got it done and she’d fight with whoever she needed to do it. She got things done.”

McCord passed away on January 22, 2011, at the age of 75, following a 10-year battle with congestive heart failure. But even as she battled the condition, McCord had a continuous presence at the Plumb Beach Civic Association, a group founded by her mother Margaret McCord, and with which she served for more than 40 years.

SBPB Civic's Tom Scalese was instrumental in advocating for the co-naming (Click to enlarge)

Among the things McCord fought for was the successful effort to downzone Plumb Beach, helping to protect it from oversized developments. She railed against condominiums, and helped ensure that local developers followed all necessary safety, zoning and building regulations.

At the same time, McCord worked to make the area more accessible and interesting to visitors and residents. She fought for street ramps to be installed on Emmons Avenue, as well as improved signage in the area, McCord-Setzger told Sheepshead Bites. She also advocated for waterfront-related improvements and businesses, including supporting the development of a casino cruise ship operating from the Brigham Street pier.

“She fought for so much that I can’t really even keep track of what it all was,” McCord-Setzger said. “She never pulled back. Even when she was sick, she was active until the day she died.”

Politicians! (and Tom Scalese)

The street signs were paid for by City Councilman Lew Fidler and Assemblyman Alan Maisel. Community Board 15 and local elected officials requested the co-naming through the Department of Transportation, but, amazingly, the agency determined that street signage in the courts were not owned or maintained by the city, and that all signage was private – an issue that McCord probably would have taken issue with. But to expedite the process without a fight, Fidler and Maisel paid for the sign out of their own pockets, seeing it as a tribute for a woman who they occasionally had to do battle with, but whose passion for her community drew admiration nonetheless.

“Barbara was a tremendous community activist. She loved the community, Plumb Beach, she loved the small town aspect of it, although that’s unfortunately disappearing,” Maisel said. “She really cared. That is a trait unfortunately that’s dying. There aren’t too many people willing to take the time, to make the effort to work on behalf of their community.”

“People in this community will for a long time recognize the contributions to our community that Barbara McCord provided us, and hopefully [they] will get some inspiration by passing the sign,” added Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, who attended the ceremony.

McCord’s children and grandchildren turned out for the sun-drenched ceremony, and her grandson unveiled the sign.