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CB 2 okays Woodside street corner rename

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Last month the board narrowly voted down the proposal to rename the stretch of street for Carvill, a New Jersey National Guardsman killed in June who was instrumental in founding and running the Woodside-based Emerald Isle Immigration Center. At the time, those opposed to the street renaming said they preferred to create a more inclusive and contextual memorial to all area military service personnel killed in Iraq.The December vote initiated a media fire storm that some frustrated board members said largely overlooked the subtleties and spirit of the board's original decision, focusing instead on a supposed snub of Carvill as an individual. After a tense exchange last Thursday, they went on to overturn their earlier decision in a 24-4 vote with four abstentions. On Dec. 3, the board chose not to approve the renaming in a 12-11 vote with four abstentions. Abstentions count as no votes. "I am very disturbed about the circumstances under which we are reconsidering (this decision)," said CB 2 Vice Chairman Steve Cooper, who presided over the November vote. Cooper had said earlier that the weight of the decision made it an issue deserving of further discussion in future meetings. "It just annoys me that we were put in this position," Cooper said, referring to pressure from the media coverage and a bill introduced by City Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside) to skirt the board's initial decision.Ten days after Community Board 2's December vote, Gioia announced he intended to submit legislation that would rename the corner of 59th Street and Woodside Avenue for Carvill, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq the same day he was slated to return to the United States.Gioia, whose office had characterized the vote as a "snub" to Carvill, praised the board for its new decision. "This is the very least we can do for Frank, who dedicated his life to helping thousands of Irish Americans, new Americans and New Yorkers," Gioia said. "He was a true hero to Woodside, to our city, and to our country, and even if we named a thousand streets after Frank Carvill, we would still fall short of adequately honoring him."Carvill, who was 51 when he died, worked as a paralegal for the Port Authority at the World Trade Center. He helped found the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, which for 16 years has worked with immigrants of all nationalities from its Woodside and Bronx offices.No one on the board denied his contributions during either vote. Those initially opposed to the street renaming said the board was simply looking for a more appropriate way to honor Carvill and all veterans than a sign whose meaning could easily be forgotten in a generation. Cooper said the question posed was not whether to honor Carvill, but rather "When do we stop naming streets and start doing something else?" He said the decision to pursue an Iraq war memorial "was designed ahead of the curve, not to follow the curve."At the December meeting, no community member spoke publicly in favor of the renaming. The support of several legislators, including U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), was conveyed by board member Mike McSweeney. Representatives from Gioia's office also circulated a letter endorsing the initiative.But several board members who either abstained or voted no during the initial round said they might have been swayed by a presentation from the Emerald Isle Center, which recommended the renaming but did not send anyone to the December meeting. A board member suggested making attendance at the board's public hearings compulsory for anyone who submits a request to the body.Board Chairman Joseph Conley, who was not at the original vote, said he was disturbed by the way the group's decision was perceived."Nobody should question your vote," Conley said. "This board has always done the right thing."Gioia said the City Council was scheduled to review the renaming proposal sometime this spring.Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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