Apr. 12, 2023 By Carlotta Mohamed
Community Board 7 voted in favor of approving requests for three street co-naming signs in the communities of Whitestone and Flushing during its virtual general board meeting held on Monday, April 10.
The board approved the street co-naming signs for Police Officer Thomas Brophy Way at 14th Avenue and 149th Street in Whitestone; Piazza Sacco at the west side corner of 149th Street and 12th Road in Whitestone; and Old Towne Burial Ground Lane at the northeast corner of 164th Street and 46th Avenue in Flushing.
Councilwoman Vickie Paladino submitted a request to co-name 14th Avenue and 149th Street in Whitestone to honor Brophy, who was a police officer at the 109th Precinct. Brophy died of metastatic colon cancer in April 2005 after exposure to toxins at the 9/11 World Trade Center site.
“He gave his all and we can give him a street sign,” Paladino said.
Brophy was born in Hauppauge, Long Island, on Aug. 5, 1968. Matthew Brophy, 21, said his father was recognized in 2007 as one of the first few first responders to die of exposure to World Trade Center toxins. In February 2005, Brophy decided to stop taking chemotherapy as it was taking a toll on his body. He died two months later.
“My mother fought for his recognition as a first responder hero, so I can have a reason as to why he was taken from me at the age of 3,” Brophy said. “He loved being an NYPD officer and the Queens community loved him as well. My father battled his cancer for me for as long as he could.”
NYPD 109th Precinct Community Affairs Police Officer Danny Wong remembered Brophy as a “charming, engaging and irresistible person.”
“He loved serving the community and received recognition for excellent police duty,” Wong said. “He and his partner often stopped at the Whitestone Diner late at night after they finished their tour. Brophy often shared laughs with local friends at the diner.”
The 109th Precinct created a memorial wall of photos in the gym dedicated to Brophy — who loved to work out daily — in recognition of his longtime devotion to the precinct.
In his testimony to co-name the west side corner of 149th Street and 12th Road in Whitestone as Piazza Sacco, CB 7 member Di Pasquale, of Associazione Sacchese D’America, said the street sign will be a reminder of where they came from.
“We moved from LIC to Brooklyn and Whitestone is our final home,” Pasquale said. “We help people and do a lot of community events and we cooperate with the church.”
The town of Sacco is located south of Naples in Italy. According to a member, the Saccasian began to immigrate to the U.S. between 1868 and 1914 to provide a better life for their families. They had settled in Little Italy in Manhattan and held strong traditional values. Eventually, they decided to form a group to help each other during rough times.
Associazione Sacchese D’America is involved with organizations in Whitestone, participates in fundraisers for immigration services and community events and works in partnership with St. Luke’s Church.
Robbie Garrison, co-chair of The Olde Towne Flushing Burial Ground Conservancy, said her team has been conducting research on the site to be recovered and given its proper recognition for over 25 years.
“We have not only made this a place to reflect and respect. We have also made it a place that has probably brought the property ownership up, and the property value up because of how it looks now,” Garrison said. “It’s indeed a place to relax and to respect and pay homage to those who have gone on before us.”
The site is located north of 46th Avenue between 164th and 165th Streets, on the opposite side of 46th Avenue from Flushing Cemetery. The site was purchased by the Town of Flushing as a public burial ground in 1840. Over 1,000 individuals were buried there in subsequent years, of whom the majority were African-American or Native American, according to Garrison.
“It has since gone through a number of changes in names…we hope that this new title we came up with is appropriate to give respect to everyone who lies there when there’s 1,000 people buried and paved over,” Garrison said.