A grassroots gladiator and a former state assemblyman, who was “involved in just about every issue in the community,” was immortalized with tears and cheers when his brother helped pave the way to dedicate his Carroll Gardens’ block “Frank J. Verderame Way.”
John Verderame joined a large crowd of supporters, among them local dignitaries, officials and relatives, to co-name Second Place, between Court and Smith streets, in honor of Verderame, who passed away in December 2008 at the age of 79, leaving behind a legacy of being “the ultimate expert” on land use and other local issues, and described as the “most honorable, smart and engaged member” of his community.
The pomp-filled commemoration featured a proclamation from Borough Hall, eloquent guest addresses and a keepsake replica of the street sign for the family.
Famous for his methodical record-keeping and a neighborhood stalwart, Verderame was dogged in his approach to city officials, whom he tried to hold accountable for their pledges.
“They are putting the cart before the horse,” he lamented to a local newspaper in 2007 after a plan to build sports facilities on a contaminated public site at 5th and Smith streets was scrapped in favor of a large mixed-income village with open space. Verderame had questioned if the cleanup was extensive enough to make the land safe for housing.
Armed with historic property maps and legal rulings, he charged that the condo project on Second Place and Smith Street encroached boundaries into the Paris-style plaza outside the subway entrance, now choked by scaffolding.
“From day one, he was active in the community,” said John Verderame, also of Carroll Gardens, of his brother who rose to prominence in the 1960s through the local ranks of the Democratic Party before being elected to the Assembly in 1970.
©2009 Community News Group
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