Local residents should expect to see fewer blocks named in honor of their late friends and neighbors now that the city has instituted new guidelines regulating the practice.
Just a few weeks ago, the city approved 85 new street designations throughout the five boroughs — 13 of them right here in Brooklyn. But that’s the last big batch of honors the borough is likely to see for some time.
Community Board 11 Chair Bill Guarinello recently explained the new criteria his board will now be following, saying that “street namings have been run like the Old West” and that in the past the designations were partly granted on the basis of “who you know.”
“Community Board 11 has new standards,” Guarinello said. “There are going to be times now when we are going to be rejecting people.”
Under the new criteria, candidates put up for consideration must have been “New Yorkers of a significance to New York City.”
This greater emphasis on citywide rather than local appeal significantly raises the threshold that prospective honorees now have to achieve before a street is designated in their honor.
The latest group of Brooklynites to have streets named after them includes victims of violent crime, a successful realtor and members of Coney Island’s Polar Bear Club.
According to Guarinello, Community Board 11 committees charged with considering new street dedication applications will immediately begin using the city’s revamped criteria.
The change could make it tougher for applications already in the Community Board 11 pipeline to win approval.
Prominent among them are popular neighborhood figures like the recently deceased Salvatore Alba, former proprietor of Alba’s Pastry Shop on 18th Avenue.
“I don’t know if Alba will meet the criteria,” Guarinello admitted
All applications for street designations start at the community board level before being forwarded to the City Council for consideration.
Alba supporters say that the man who built the 18th Avenue shop 80 years ago has more than enough clout to meet the new requirements.
“The guy was known all around the world,” store manager Manny Alaimo said. “You find people standing on line [in our store] from as far away as Moscow, Texas, Nevada and California. Sal is an icon.”
Community Board 11 District Manager Marni Elias-Pavia explained how the city’s new guidelines are likely to affect the way the board approaches future applications.
“We’re not going to give something that’s not gong to meet the new standards and procedures so it gets denied,” she said. “In the past when you have a loved one, although you have a lot of respect for the person in the community, they might not have had an effect on the city.”
The City Council is expected to release the next round of new street designations in December.
©2008 Community News Group
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