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New Mill Basin Civic President Pledges New Ideas

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The Mill Basin Civic Association is now under new stewardship, and the president-elect promises to bring fresh ideas and tackle some age-old problems that plague the neighborhood — such as illegally operated dollar vans. In a taste of things to come, at the Mill Basin Civic Association’s first meeting with Paul Curiale as president-elect, young hip-hop style dancers from Elizabeth’s Dance Image performed for members at the American Legion Post at 5601 Ave. N. Curiale, who is in his late 30s and has lived in Mill Basin since 1995, is the executive director of Millennium Project, and is the administrator of the Bergen Beach Youth Organization, where he has been since 1991. Both are located at 2303 Bergen Avenue. The Millennium Project aims “to strengthen and support programming for seniors and families within the community,” he says. Although this is the first time he has held office at the civic association, he has been an active member since he moved into Mill Basin in 1995. Outgoing president Paula Whitney announced last June that she was stepping down. Curiale says he was committed to the survival of the association, agreeing to run for the position, while encouraging anyone else who was interested to also put their names forward. The new board of directors will be installed at the next meeting on March 30 at the Glen Terrace, 5313 Ave. N. The meeting has been brought forward by half an hour to 7:30 p.m. to allow early risers to get to bed in good time. The civic association traditionally does not hold a meeting in February. Curiale said that he would “continue to address the challenges” facing Mill Basin He also said that he loves his neighborhood. “Paula has laid our road map,” said Curiale. “And I will continue along it for a long while.” He said he has been working with the Marine Park and Futurama Civic Associations to pool resources on how to deal with the problem of dollar vans, which many residents say menace the streets. “We have a lot of people who are concerned about this issue,” he said. Curiale also promises to infuse fresh ideas drawn from his work with youth and seniors at the Millennium Project. Over the coming months, the civic association will be spotlighting important community figures, including teachers and religious leaders. The first person he wanted to spotlight was Rae Cuzzone, who until she died on Dec. 30, 2005 was president of the Mary Queen of Heaven Seniors at 1395 E. 56th St., which she founded 30 years ago. Curiale said that Cuzzone made a major contribution to the public. “She was a powerhouse of energy, love and endurance and was always treating everyone equally,” said Curiale. “She is in a better place,” Curiale said. “Her program and the people she believed in are going to continue.” He said he wants to encourage Mill Basin residents to nominate other notable members of the community to honor. He also wants to shine a spotlight on children in the community, who he says have tremendous energy that can be properly channeled through extracurricular activities. “I want to showcase young people in the community within public and parochial schools, youth clubs and youth programs,” Curiale said. “People then can see where youth are excelling.” “We hear negativity so many times, but there is so much more,” he said. Students from Mary Queen of Heaven will be performing at the March meeting, while children from P.S. 203 at 5101 Avenue M will perform at the April meeting. The April meeting will be held at the American Legion Post at 5601 Ave. N. on Tues., April 11 at 7.30 p.m. In addition, he plans to feature youth groups in the community, such as karate clubs and dance studios. “I am honored,” said Curiale. “I am the new kid on the block and yet I am not – because I am very connected with the neighborhood.” Curiale was raised in Marine Park, went to all local schools, including James Madison High School, Kingsborough Community College and studied human services and business at Brooklyn College. After nearly a quarter of a century serving the Mill Basin Civic Association, Whitney wanted to take time for herself and her husband, according to Curiale. Curiale first met Whitney at a dedication soon after he joined the Mill Basin Civic Association. He was impressed by her commitment to the association. “We have been friends since,” Curiale said. Still living in the community she loves, Whitney continues to be a member of the association and will be there to help out when needed, Curiale said. “She offered an open line to contact her anytime with an issue,” said Curiale. For more information about the Mill Basin Civic Association, contact them at their new email address, millbasincivic@aol.com.

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