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Pelham Parkway construction halts Clesse Run

Bronx Times

Better shelve those running shoes.

The ten-year anniversary of the 9/11 Thomas Clesse Memorial Run will have to wait for next year.

Organizers have canceled the fundraising venue, originally set for September 8, thanks to Pelham Parkway’s massive reconstruction project, now in its second phase.

For years dozens of locals showed up for the charitable event in memory of 49th Precinct police Lieutenant Thomas Clesse, who died of cancer.

The race would start and end at Eastchester Road and Pelham Parkway South.

To those who knew Clesse, he was a “cop’s cop,” said lead organizer Sgt. Tom Bruen.

“He was ahead of his time with community policing,” said Bruen, who admired the 32-year veteran as both a fellow officer and friend. The two spent countless hours at the 49th Precinct Club, taking club trips and fishing at City Island’s waters.

Originally called the Thomas Clesse 5K Run, police later changed it to honor those who died on 9/11.

Because Department of Transportation officials cordoned off the eastbound side of Pelham Parkway, traffic was shifted to the westbound side, the original starting line of the race. With the center lane handling two-way traffic, Bruen was concerned about safety issues, especially with the kids who take part in the Young Run before the main event. “It would be too much of a burden,” he said.

Fellow organizer Joe Thompson, president of the 49th Precinct Community Council, agreed with the decision after witnessing a barrage of cars squeezing into Pelham Parkway North.

“If we close that roadway we choke off Pelham Parkway,” said Thompson.

Bruen said he spoke with Clesse’s family, who were “disappointed but understand.”

Several residents were surprised at the cancellation.

“We were talking about it this morning,” said Andrea Siegel, who sits on the 49th Precinct Community Council.

She and Kay Pinto-Cordera, another council member, looked forward to walking down the leafy thoroughfare.

“That run is symbolic of the unity people feel,” said Pinto-Cordera.

Bruen and Thompson are looking ahead to 2013.

“We’ll definitely have it by next year,” assured Thompson.

Last year, organizers raised $2,400, which went to the NYPD’s Orphans and Widows Fund, for families of officers who’ve died in the line of duty.

Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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