SOUTHWEST BROOKLYN — The city is poised to ceremonially rename eight street corners in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst in honor of beloved people and institutions.
Following a vote by Community Board 10 last month, on Thursday, Dec. 19 the City Council approved the bevy of street renamings.
City Councilmember Justin Brannan, who represents the area, along with their respective organizations, was instrumental in helping identify and present the names of the individuals and institutions submitted for approval.
“Whether they are veterans, first responders, community activists or just everyday heroes, it has always been a distinct honor for me to help dedicate a little piece of our neighborhood to the people who left an indelible mark,” Brannan told this paper.
FDNY-EMS Lt. Walter Nelson, Jr. Way honors the memory of the late firefighter who died on May 2, 2014 as a result of an illness connected to his rescue work after 9/11. According to colleagues and family members, he loved his job and loved serving the people of New York City, and he was always pushing people to better themselves. The corner to be renamed in his memory will be at 68th Street and Colonial Road.
Aileen Hernandez Way at the intersection of Bay Ridge Avenue and 12th Avenue will be dedicated to the legacy of the African-American union organizer, civil rights activist and women’s rights activist who served as the president of the National Organization for Women between 1970 and 1971. Hernandez, who was born in Brooklyn, was educated at Howard University and was the author of “National Women of Color Organizations: A Report to the Ford Foundation.” Hernandez was born on May 23, 1926 and died at the age of 93.
Justice Arthur M. Schack Way at the intersection of Ridge Boulevard and 89th Street will pay tribute to the beloved Bay Ridge civic leader who served as a justice of the Kings County Supreme Court in the Second Judicial District of New York. He was elected to that position in 2004 and served in it until his death on May 2, 2016 after a lengthy illness.
The Bay Ridge-born Schack was known as a community leader who spent decades working to improve the lives of residents through his membership in Community Board 10 (which he also served as chair), his support of the Ragamuffin Parade and the Boy Scouts, and many other activities. At the time of Schack’s death, CB 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann described him as a “devoted son of Bay Ridge” who “exemplified how giving back to the community through volunteer service can truly make a difference.”
Bishop Kearney Way will honor the all-girls Catholic high school that opened its doors in 1961 on 60th Street in Bensonhurst and closed on August 31, 2019. For 58 years, the school boasted a dedicated staff of faculty and administrators that served the educational needs of the community. The corner named for the school will be at the southeast corner of 60th Street and Bay Ridge Parkway.
St. Ephrem’s Way, to be dedicated at the intersection of Bay Ridge Parkway and Fort Hamilton Parkway, celebrates St. Ephrem’s parish which was founded in 1921. The renaming will celebrate the 100th anniversary of St. Ephrem’s. The present church has a 1952 cornerstone. St Ephrem Catholic Academy in Dyker Heights serves students from pre-K through eighth grade.
Patrolman Arthur Loewe Way will be dedicated at the intersection of 74th Street and Fourth Avenue in memory of Loewe, who was shot and killed when he approached four men committing a burglary in Brooklyn. Loewe was assigned to the 78th Precinct and had served with the NYPD for five years. He was also a veteran of World War I. He was posthumously awarded the NYPD Medal of Honor.
Father Paul Schneirla served as the first pastor of St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church on Ridge Boulevard in Bay Ridge from its inception in 1951 to his retirement in 2002. Schneirla was a pioneer convert member of the clergy, author and renowned theologian with a long list of noteworthy accomplishments, including being a member of the general board of the National Council of Churches beginning in 1940. He was also the last surviving member of the original founders of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas. He served as a priest of the Antiochian Archdiocese for 71 years, and was the first chairperson of its Department of Christian Education.
Dominick Della Rocca Way at the intersection of 69th Street and Shore Road honors the Brooklyn businessman and renowned civic leader who opened Della Rocca’s Restaurant in Bay Ridge in 1970. Della Rocca was also the founder of the Buck Wingo Athletic Club in Fort Greene, the Fort Greene Civic Center and the New York City Youth Board under Mayors Abe Beame and Ed Koch, as well as being a member of the National Conference of Christians and Jews and a founder of the Community Mayors. He was also named a Magistral Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta by the Pope for his humanitarian efforts.
“The name of the street you live on or grew up on means a great deal. It’s something you never forget and take with you for the rest of your life. So when you change a street name, you change the way people think about their neighborhood,” said Brannan.
“It is always my hope that someone will see one of these signs and be intrigued to research who the person was and why someone felt they should have a street named after them. I think it teaches us an important history lesson about our neighborhood, the tremendous people who have called this community home and the contributions they’ve made to making our world a better place,” he added.