CB 12 alters rules on street renamings

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The controversy over renaming the street where Sean Bell was killed has prompted Community Board 12 to change its guidelines on how it gives approval to such requests, but not everyone is agreeing with its decision.

Last month the board, which oversees the neighborhoods of Jamaica, South Jamaica, Baisley Park, Rochdale Village, St. Albans and Springfield Gardens, now mandates that anyone asking to have a street renamed in their jurisdiction must have lived there for at least 10 years.

The new rule, which was voted on unanimously, was created because members of the board were divided over the street renaming for Bell, who never lived in the area but was killed at a strip club in Jamaica.

“This Sean Bell thing made us look at our criteria,” CB 12 Chairwoman Adjoa Gzifa said. “Street name changing is for individuals who have given extraordinary service to the community.”

Gzifa, who voted against the Bell measure, said she has seen may requests from applicants who did not do community service or give back to the community while briefly living or working in the neighborhood. To have a street renamed, the person must have proven himself or herself as having a positive impact in the neighborhood, according to the chairwoman.

“It’s a high honor. It’s a very high honor and it costs money,” she said.

Final approval for street renamings comes from the mayor and City Council. Several residents and community leaders have applauded the move, according to Gzifa, but not everyone is happy with the change.

Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) said he was disappointed with the vote, contending it limits the community’s dealings with the board.

He said he would meet with Gzifa to try to create an opportunity for others in the community to have their chance.

“We have to work with them to understand all people who impact the community board may not be permanent residents of the board,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Updated 5:50 pm, October 10, 2011
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