13 new street names coming - Changes honor a diverse group of Brooklynites

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A Marine Park realtor, a Canarsie historian and a group of guys who love to take really cold baths will all have streets renamed after them in the coming months, city officials announced.

In a sweeping move last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg authorized 85 street renamings across the city – thirteen of which will take place in Brooklyn.

Streets will be renamed – an honor that is historically bestowed upon 9/11 victims and public servants who died in the line of duty — for St. Brendan’s Church on Avenue O between East 12th and East 13th Street as well as Bill Reinhardt, the founder of Fillmore Realty. The corner of Flatbush Avenue and Fillmore Avenue will be re-named in his honor, officials said.

Coney Island’s famed Polar Bear Club — the daredevils who celebrate each New Year by jumping into the Atlantic Ocean – will forever be remembered with a street renaming on the west side of Stillwell Avenue between Bowery Street and the Boardwalk, officials said.

Other streets will be renamed for John Denton, a longtime Canarsie historian (East 92nd Street between Flatlands Avenue and Avenue J), Priscilla Celano, a former district manager for Community Board 12 in Borough Park (the southwest corner of 13th Avenue at 59th Street), and Carlos Lezama, the founder of the city’s annual West Indian American Day Carnival (Brooklyn Avenue and St. John’s Place).

Street renamings are also being held for public servants, most notably Firefighter James Raymond Coyle, a 9/11 hero who will have Avenue R between East 35th and East 36th streets renamed in his honor; Firefighter Daniel Pujdak, who died in the line of duty recently and whose name will soon be found on Cook Street between Graham Avenue and Humboldt Street in Greenpoint; and former City Councilmember Howard Lasher, who will be remembered in a street renaming on the center median on Neptune Avenue at West 6th Street.

While some would question the contributions of some of these honorees, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that each one “left an indelible mark on our city.”

“Whether they were firefighters, writers or anything in between, these men and women were above all else servants of our communities and I am proud to recognize all that they had done to make our city a better place.”

City officials said that all of the street co-names met the new reformed guidelines, which demanded that proposed honorees had to be “New Yorkers of a significant importance New York City.”

Applications of street renamings also have to be submitted with detailed biographical information, including any potentially negative information.

In Reinhardt’s application, which was submitted by City Councilmember Lew Fidler on behalf of the Marine Park Civic Association and Community Board 18, it was indicated that he was involved in several civic endeavors, including Toys for Tots and the Flatlands Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

“[Reinhardt] was quite a philanthropic fellow in the community, so it didn’t surprise me in the least when someone from the Marine Park Civic Association asked me to have a street renamed in his honor,” said Fidler, who also proposed the street renaming for John Denton. “All of these people were important to the neighborhood, so much so that after their passing they were still part of the neighborho­od.”

“When someone sees these names, they’re going to ask about them and the story they are going to get is going to be a positive one. In Bill Reinhardt’s case, it will be a story about someone who built a company and made sure he gave something back to the community.”

And the Polar Bears’ contribution?

“They’re part of Coney Island’s cultural fabric,” Fidler said. “If the people in that oceanfront community and community board felt it was appropriate to have a street renamed after them, who are we to judge?”

A call to City Councilmember Domenic Recchia, who pushed for the Polar Bears’ street renaming, was not returned as this paper went to press.

Other approved street renamings will honor Anthony Pastena, Sr. at the corner of Grand Avenue and Withers Street, Joseph, Edmund and Larry Charno, owners of Joe’s Department Store at Manhattan Avenue and Greenpoint Avenue, 9/11 victim Thomas Joseph Sgroi, who will be remembered at the corner of 15th Avenue and 53rd Street and murder victim Benny Lyde, whose name will soon be found at the corner of Lincoln Place and Brooklyn Avenue.

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