An important neighborhood name will soon be seen in dedication on a well known intersection in the Belmont community.
One of the hardest working volunteers from the Arthur Avenue area passed away in March 2007. Joseph Zinzi, a founding member of the Inter-Racial and Inter-Ethnic Council at Community Board Six, will be honored this March by having his name placed at the corner of Arthur Avenue and E. 187th St. The intersection will soon also be known as Joseph Zinzi Place.
For over 35 years, Zinzi was part of the Italian American Alliance for Education. He devoted his time in securing and expanding educational, career and recreational opportunities for the youth of the Belmont community. Joe Cicciu is the executive director of the Belmont/Arthur Avenue Local Development Corporation. A long time friend of Zinzi and fellow volunteer, Cicciu clearly recalls all of the work he had done for the community.
“I got to know him very well when I was in college,” said Cicciu. “He became really involved in community affairs during the late 1960s, which was something uncommon during that time period. He wanted to start by taking kids away from bad neighborhood habits and keep them involved with school and other activities.”
The idea of renaming a street after Zinzi was long discussed following his passing in 2007. A majority vote to have the corner of E. 187th Street and Arthur Avenue named after him was agreed at a Community Board 6 meeting in June 2009. A bill sponsored by Councilman Joel Rivera was approved by Mayor Bloomberg on December 28, 2009. Although most of Zinzi’s family lives outside the Belmont community, his brother Anthony is always visiting the area, remembering what his brother had done for the community that they were born and raised in.
“I think they should’ve named the whole neighborhood after my brother,” Zinzi joked. “I think they could’ve named the intersection after him right after he passed away. Nevertheless, it is an absolute honor for him and our whole family. My brother was an amazing guy who did amazing things for the people of this community.”
The naming of the intersection is temporarily set for Saturday, March 19 of this year. The date, which is a celebration of St. Joseph, was Zinzi’s name day and a day that he loved celebrating with his family. Joe Marano, director of the Council of Belmont Organization, a group that Zinzi contributed to for over 20 years, is proud to have known a wonderful patron of the Belmont neighborhood.
“This honor is long overdue and could have been done right after he passed.” Marano said. “That’s not how he would have wanted it though. He was the type of person to refuse awards and just stick by his own motto of ‘just do your job.’ He is deeply missed but his name hanging from that corner is the perfect tribute to Joe.”