The Pelham Bay Taxpayers and Community Association, a venerable organization with a long history, has a new leader.
Michele Torrioni, who first became civically engaged in her east Bronx community just two years ago, has assumed the role of president of the organization upon the passing of its previous leader Joe Oddo in March.
Torrioni grew up in Pelham Bay on Wilkinson Avenue but now lives in nearby Waterbury LaSalle. Her family, including her mother, still resides in the home her great-grandfather built in 1928, she said.
She said she will work to increase membership to the organization, including both residents who are new to the community and people like herself, whose families have been there for generations.
“I want to pick up where Joe Oddo left off,” said the new president. “I know organizations have a hard time getting people involved, especially the younger generation.”
Top concerns among PBTCA members are issues like the need for more police, dirty streets, the new nearby 911 Call Center and the traffic expected from new developments, traffic at Amendola Plaza and dealing with changing times.
When she grew up in Pelham Bay, decades ago, it was a somewhat different place, said Torrioni.
“My mom and I remember when we all knew our neighbors in Pelham Bay and we left our doors open,” said Torrioni. “It was different times.”
She said that she feels in the past the neighborhood was more family-oriented, and even though there were always larger buildings, it had a close-knit feel.
Of course there is no stopping change, she said, but she believes that there are a core of people, both longtime residents and newcomers, who care about maintaining the community as a viable place to live.
“I want people to stay involved and be informed of what is going on,” she said, adding there are many who are passionate about the community and who want to stay.
Torrioni said she is conscious that she is filling some big shoes in terms of her predecessors. The organization goes back to at least the 1960s.
Through the years, Torrioni said, there have been some notable leaders of the PBTCA, including Florence Collucci, the aunt of Councilman James Vacca, who has the Wikinson Playground named after her.
There was also longtime president Michael Crescenzo, who was known as the ‘Mayor of Pelham Bay,’ and before Oddo, former president Anita Valenti, who revived the organization when it was flagging.
Torrioni works in advertising. She graduated from local schools: P.S. 71, J.H.S. 101, and St. Helena Business High School.