Pelham Bay triangle needs greenery

Community leaders are planning to beautify the Michael Crescenzo Triangle (above), a traffic island at Westchester and Hobart avenues. Photo by Daniel Beekman

At the intersection of Westchester Avenue and Hobart Avenue, just north of the el, is the Michael Crescenzo Triangle, named for the “Mayor of Pelham Bay.” A crooked green sign. Sloped asphalt. A crumbling curb.

The triangle, christened in 1993, honors a neighborhood hero. Crescenzo, founder-president of the Pelham Bay Taxpayers and Civic Association, fought for safety and prosperity. He passed away, 91 years old, last year.

According to Crescenzo’s Pelham Bay Taxpayers successor, Ed Romeo, the triangle is run down.

“It’s barren,” Romeo said. “Nothing there.”

Romeo wants to repave and renovate the triangle – add planters and a floral wishing well. Assemblyman Michael Benedetto might pitch in.

“The triangle could use a beautification, and I’d like to help,” Benedetto said. “Mike Crescenzo was such a great leader. He deserves a fitting tribute.”

Benedetto envisions shrubs and a larger sign. The sign could read, “Michael Crescenzo Triangle – Welcome to Pelham Bay.” Benedetto hopes to secure multi-modal funds for the project. Multi-modal funds finance the construction and preservation of railroads, airports and roadways.

“I’d like to do this in a number of spots,” Benedetto said. “Like Country Club and Waterbury-LaSalle.”

Benedetto could request funds this spring.

“We’re still working on the budget,” he said.

Crescenzo’s family would also like the triangle smartened up. Michael’s son, Anthony Crescenzo, and grandson, Erik Swanson, have drawn up a plan. Pending Parks Department permission, Councilman James Vacca will plant trees at the intersection; the Crescenzos will donate a plaque.

“Erik was very close with my dad,” said Virginia McHale, Crescenzo’s daughter. “And he’s like my dad – opinionated. He’s been calling Jimmy Vacca non-stop.”

Vacca began working with Crescenzo in the early 1970s. The two used to ride around Pelham Bay in Vacca’s car, looking to keep Pelham Bay spotless.

“Mike loved what he did,” Vacca said. “If you grew up in Pelham Bay, you knew Mike. He was active right up to his passing.”

Mike Difigola runs Vito’s Men’s Shop, across from the triangle. Shrubs and planters could draw attention away from the store, a friend warned.

“Maybe,” Difigola said. “But, if it’s positive for the neighborhood, I think it’s an excellent idea. Mike was a very good friend of ours.”

Difigola would rather not see benches installed. Same for Pelham Bay resident Richie Valenti.

“We already have benches and derelicts at Keane Square,” Valenti said.

According to Romeo, there’s plenty of room for a floral wishing well. He’s spoken with Crescenzo’s family and received their blessing.

“Mike Crescenzo was the quintessential Pelham Bay resident,” Romeo said. “Someone with a strong sense of family and community.”

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