Some people devote their lives to preserving the environment. the rain forests or polar ice caps. Catherine Poggi devoted hers to preserving the Bronx.
Poggi passed away on Saturday, March 19 at age 86. She lived in Ferry Point for the majority of her life. As a longtime member of Community Board 10 she worked extensively to preserve and improve the quality of life in her neighborhood. Poggi placed a priority on natural beauty and advocated for park space.
“She was a trailblazer in environmental parks issues,” said Councilman Jimmy Vacca, who worked with her when he was district manager of Community Board 10.
One of Poggi’s earliest accomplishments in Ferry Point was having a large parcel that used to be a garbage dump until 1963, turned into a park.
She moved, with her family, to the Ferry Point area from Manhattan in 1953. For the next several decades, Brush Avenue where she lived, was a rural outpost with no more than a few dozen houses.
“She really put that community on the map,” Vacca said . “She was a presence in this community right through the 80s and 90s. Just a year ago I had gotten a bus to take people to a hearing to protest the water rates. She was there.”
Poggi was known for being tenacious when it came to fighting for what she believed in.
“She worked very hard,” said longtime friend and fellow CB 10 member Rose Foley. “She was domineering. She was passionate about the things she fought for.”
She was driven, Foley said, by the desire to contribute to her neighborhood and fight for the interests of those around her.
“Living in the community you take an interest,” Foley said. “You want to take part and make sure it doesn’t go down the drain and things go well. She was a fighter, very vocal.”
Another of Poggi’s accomplishments was stopping the city from using Brush Avenue as a police department storage yard for derelict cars in the 1970s.
“It was just the three of us, Catherine Poggi and one or two other people that lived in Ferry Point,” said Jack Reith, an advocate for Westchester Creek who worked with Poggi.“Representatives of the NYPD and their lawyers were there, it was like knights against pawns.”
Nevertheless, Poggi and Reith enlisted a young marine biologist to show how many forms of marine life would be put in jeopardy by commandeering the vacant land.
Poggi’s daughter Dottie is organizing a barbecue in her mother’s honor slated for this July. It will take place, fittingly, on Brush Avenue.