A Brooklyn civic leader who served alongside Mafalda DiMango on the local school board is leading an effort to convince the city to name the street corner outside P.S. 204 in Bensonhurst in memory of the iconic education advocate who died Aug. 2 at the age of 91.
Carlo Scissura, president of the Federation of Italian-American Organizations of Brooklyn, and DiMango both served on the old Community School Board 20 in the 1990s and continued to serve after New York State scrapped the local school boards in 2002 and replaced them with community education councils. DiMango’s tenure as a school board member began back in the mid-1960s.
Scissura said he has already spoken to city officials about the honorary naming of the street corner outside the school at 8101 15th Ave. Scissura wants to name the corner of 15th Avenue and 81st Street “Mafalda DiMango Way” after his friend and colleague.
“There is a process and we have to go through that process. It has to be approved by the community board and the City Council, and the mayor has to sign it. But I haven’t talked to anyone who doesn’t think this is a great idea. I don’t want to wait a long time. I want to get this done,” Scissura told this newspaper on Aug. 14.
If all goes well, the new street sign bearing DiMango’s name could be erected as early as the spring of 2019.
Scissura also approached DiMango’s family with the idea. Judge Patricia DiMango, star of the CBS show “Hot Bench” is one of DiMango’s two daughters. She publicly endorsed the proposal at the funeral mass at the Shrine Church of Saint Bernadette in Dyker Heights on Aug. 6. “We’re going to get that done, right, Carlo?” she asked during the eulogy she delivered.
The location for the street name proposal is no accident, according to Scissura. “P.S. 204 is synonymous with Mafalda,” he said. “She went to school there, was a PTA president there and attended graduation every year there. She also lived down the block from the school for many years.”
DiMango, who graduated from P.S. 204 in 1938, returned decades later and served as Parent-Teacher Association president from 1963 to 1965.
The auditorium at P.S. 204 was officially named in her honor during a ceremony on June 1. The event marked one of DiMango’s last public appearances.
The first step in the street naming process is presenting the proposal to Community Board 11, which would have to vote to approve the measure before it is sent to the City Council for consideration.
William Guarinello, chairperson of Community Board 11, said he’s all for it. “We would support it. It’s a no-brainer. It would be a very easy vote. Mafalda certainly fits the criteria of someone who would have a street named after them. She contributed a lot to the community,” he told this newspaper.
DiMango was a charter member of Community Board 11, having been appointed back in the 1970s when the City Charter created the boards.
The city’s community boards, which are comprised of 50 volunteers appointed by borough presidents to serve the best interests of their neighborhoods, are different from old community school boards, which consisted of elected members responsible for overseeing local schools.
Scissura said Councilmember Justin Brannan, a Democrat who represents Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and portions of Bensonhurst, and who represents the area around P.S. 204, has expressed to him his support for the street naming. As the local councilmember, Brannan would be the main sponsor of legislation to have the city officially name the street corner after DiMango.