After 15 years of serving the neighborhoods of Community Board 11, John Fratta will step down from his post as district manager on Friday, January 28.
Since the mid-1990s, Fratta has been leading the fights and addressing the issues and concerns of residents in Pelham Parkway, Morris Park and Van Nest. He will be retiring after nearly 40 years of city service.
Fratta began his tenure with CB 11 with a long and bitter fight to keep Home Depot from coming into Gun Hill Road. The community board ultimately lost the fight against the company, which now has a thriving outlet near I-95.
“That was the first thing, you could say, I got baptized with here,” he said. “For the community that was a bitter fight. We opposed Home Depot, but we lost that one.”
But Fratta ends his career on a high note. He helped lead the fight to get Pelham Parkway rehabbed.
“The Pelham Parkway project was a big accomplishment,” he said. “Even though we know it’s going to be very difficult during construction, we know it’ll be good in the long run.”
Memorable battles along the way included establishing community groups to fight crime in Pelham Parkway and Van Nest. However, Fratta said his favorite accomplishment is helping the residents in need.
“Helping people really is great. When people that really feel they have no where else to turn come to you and you manage to help them, it’s a great feeling,” he said. “I touched a lot of lives, which makes me feel good. Then again, I’m sure there’s some that will be glad I’m going.”
Fratta has been in city government for 37 years. Before joining the board, he was a youth coordinator for CB 7 and a clerk at the Comptroller’s office before that. He also served on the city’s campaign finance board.
“Being in the city so long, I have a very good pension. It was just time to call it a day,” Fratta said. “It was a hard decision. It’s really a good job.”
Fratta is from Little Italy in Manhattan, and currently resides in lower Manhattan.
Although he will continue to oversee the project in Pelham Parkway for the next few months, he will now be able devote himself more fully to his community, where he serves on the board of Community Board 1 and is active in the Order of the Sons of Italy in America organization.
With all the wins and losses in his 15 years, leading CB 11, Fratta said none off it would be possible if it weren’t for the dedication of the members of the community.
“The stereotype - and it’s so damn wrong - is that there’s crime all over the place,” he said, about his initial feelings towards working in the Bronx. “But really, up here it’s like a paradise and it’s the best kept secret in the city. Our most troubled parts of the district are better than most parts of the city, and the credit goes to the people that live up here.”