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City mourns Joel Miele after decades of work

Photo courtesy Queens Library
By Steve Mosco

Joel Miele, a Howard Beach resident who served Queens and the city at large in a wide-reaching array of positions, died Tuesday. He was 79.

Miele was the commissioner of two different agencies: the city Department of Environmental Protection and the city Department of Buildings. He also held posts as the Queens representative on the Department of City Planning and as chairman of Community Board 10 covering Howard Beach, Ozone Park and Richmond Hill for more than a decade.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Miele would be remembered as a decorated U.S. Navy captain, dedicated father and proud New Yorker.

“Throughout his career, Joel sought to improve city services and protect our critical infrastructure,” the mayor said in a statement. “He oversaw the successful completion of the first phase of the Third Water Tunnel, the largest public works project in New York City history, and initiated major survey and repair projects to ensure the reliability and quality of our water system. Joel was an accomplished engineer who applied his trade in the service of the city.”

Miele also served on a number of boards, including the Queens Public Library and Queens Public Access Television, and was a member of the city Board of Standards and Appeals.

“Joel Miele served the people of Queens as a library trustee for more than 32 years with wisdom and humor, and was president of the board in 1995 and 1996,” a Queens Library spokeswoman said in a statement. “We extend sincere sympathies to Josephine, and all of Joel’s friends and family.”

Borough President Helen Marshall said Miele never stopped working hard for the borough.

“We owe him a debt of gratitude for devoting his time, talents, knowledge and energy to help make our borough and city better,” she said. “On behalf of the people of Queens, I extend our sympathy and condolences to Joel’s family, friends and colleagues.”

Miele was born in New Jersey in 1934 and married his wife Josephine in 1959. They began their married life in Norfolk, Va., before moving to Howard Beach in 1961. Miele is survived by his wife, his children Joel Jr., VitaMarie and Janet, as well as a brother, two sisters and seven grandchildren.

Prior to joining the Navy in 1957, Miele was a graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School and attended Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, where he earned a Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree.

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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