By Chris Engelhardt
City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) is drafting legislation to remove former Mayor Ed Koch’s name from the Queensboro Bridge, a measure he said is in demand among residents of Queens.
Vallone had been one of the first to argue against adding the name of the city’s 105th mayor to the Queensboro Bridge, which was approved by the Council in March 2011. The same year this happened, Vallone’s funds to be distributed to nonprofits plummeted from about $1.4 million in fiscal year 2011 to about $840,000 in fiscal year 2012. He contended he would have had more if not for his feud with Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) over the renaming of the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge.
“I’ve traveled throughout Queens discussing some important issues, and this is the one issue virtually everyone agrees on,” he said. “We had the bridge named for our borough taken from us, and we want it back. This bill would return the Queensboro Bridge to its original name.”
The Vallone bill would rename the Manhattan Municipal Building as the Ed Koch Manhattan Municipal Building.
The bridge is known across the East River as the 59th Street Bridge because it connects 59th Street in Manhattan with Queens Plaza in Long Island City. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced at a Dec. 8, 2010, early birthday party for Koch that he wanted to rename the bridge after Koch.
Vallone fought against Bloomberg’s proposal at the time, and later failed to push through a bill that would have prohibited the city from naming its landmarks after living people.
“The will of the people of Queens was overridden,” he said. “This has nothing to do with Ed Koch. It’s not personal at all. A landmark so closely linked to the history of our borough should never be renamed after anyone.”
Reach reporter Chris Engelhardt by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4564.