BY JON CRONIN
Howard Beach’s 163rd Avenue pedestrian bridge has been cleaned up and renamed after the late Joel Miele Sr., a former Community Board 10 chairman and commissioner for the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Local elected officials and civic leaders turned out for the bridge renaming on Monday which was hosted by Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) in honor of the Navy veteran, who was known for his community service.
Miele died at age 79 in May 2013.
Betty Braton, the chairwoman of CB10, said that Miele served the community for decades.
“I’m particularly happy with it because I’ve known Joel since I was a child,” she said. “He was a neighbor, a friend and a colleague. Nobody deserves this more than Joel Miele.”
CB10 voted unanimously to rename the bridge after Miele in May.
“I spent time with Joel and his family growing up—and what an example he set for all of us,” said Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway Beach). “Joel was a great guy, but most striking was how he so completely valued service. While helping New York City recover from 9/11 as DEP commissioner, Joel still was always involved in his community. That’s the kind of person we all aspire to be.”
The bridge is located between 99th Street and Hamilton Beach, which is less than 200 feet away from the home where Miele and his wife raised three children, and six blocks away from Miele’s childhood home.
Miele also served on the City Planning Commission and as the city’s commissioner of buildings from 1994 to 1996. He then acted as the commissioner of the DEP from 1996 to 2002. In his free time, he used his capabilities as an engineer to assist charitable engineering organizations.
“As DEP commissioner, Joel’s leadership following the 9/11 attacks was instrumental in helping to quickly restore water and sewer service in Lower Manhattan, and he left an indelible mark on the design of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant with its digester eggs, iconic symbols of his dedication to public service,” said DEP Acting Commissioner Vincent Sapienza.
At the bridge renaming, Ulrich said that Miele was a dedicated city servant and longtime community leader.
“Joel was the epitome of a good citizen,” Ulrich said. “He was known throughout the community as a leader and friend. As a Navy veteran, Joel bravely served our country. I am proud to have played a part in the renaming of the 163rd Avenue Pedestrian Bridge. It is my hope that its new name will serve as a beautiful reminder of his many contributions.”
And Nicole Garcia, the Queens commissioner of the city’s Department of Transportation, added that the renaming of the bridge would honor Miele’s “lifelong career in public service.”