Harvey Schultz, a longtime Brooklyn public servant and the former Commissioner of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) who died last September, was immortalized this week when the city dedicated the Prospect Park bandshell near Ninth Street in his honor.
A wide spectrum of city officials past and present attended the ceremony to pay tribute to a longtime Prospect Heights resident who wore many hats in city government.
From 1974 through 1977, he headed the Brooklyn Office of City Planning. He left that post to become executive assistant to then-Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden, a job he held until 1985. In 1986, then-Mayor Ed Koch Schultz appointed Schultz DEP commissioner, a position he held for four years.
Schultz went on to establish his own consulting company, Strategic Urban Solutions, which built 7,500 homes in the Rockaways. Beginning in 2000, he was also a senior partner with Muss Development, a real estate company.
“I liked him for a number of reasons: such great common sense, and such a great sense of humor,” said Golden, himself a one-time Brooklyn resident, who lived on Ocean Parkway and Avenue C.
“Harvey was outstanding,” said Golden, reminiscing about a man he said had “great abilities, but more than that, he had a great manner about him. So much of the work that was done in this park is a tribute to his memory.”
Schultz is probably best known for the work he did bringing the Celebrate Brooklyn Performing Arts Festival into existence in 1979 alongside Golden. Instrumental in generating excitement surrounding the festival was the 1981 renovation of the bandshell, according to Jack Walsh, the annual event’s executive producer.
“He played a huge role in getting [the festival] off the ground. And after the renovation, it really took off,” Walsh said. “We just had our 30th anniversary. That wouldn’t have been possible without Harvey.”
The art deco bandshell that now bears his name was originally built by Robert Moses in 1939, but fell into disrepair until Schultz and Golden gave it a comprehensive renovation in 1981. It was renovated again in 1998.
The plaque dedicating the structure to Schultz is made of Vermont slate rock, engraved in hand-carved lettering.
Said Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Julius Spiegel, “With this plaque, we bring Harvey’s many accomplishments – which were mostly achieved behind the scenes – to center stage.”
During his four years as DEP commissioner, he dealt with major issues like a federal ban on dumping sewage in the ocean, a 10-year program to install water meters in all residences, and preparing for climate change.
But along with the big issues, small local matters did not escape his notice, according to Walsh.
“I remember when he saved some trees on Third Street as DEP Commissioner. They were supposed to do a sewer replacement and cut down all the trees, but he changed the project to line the sewers instead so they could save them,” he said.
“It was just another small story of many.”