Maspeth, MidVil streets renamed for local legends

By Gabriel Rom

The City Council unanimously passed a bill last week that includes a proposal to co-name two Queens streets, one in Maspeth and the other in Middle Village.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) proposed the bill to honor Frank Kowalinski and Bishop Joseph Sullivan, both of whom were Queens natives.

Maspeth Avenue between 61st and 64th streets will now also be named Frank Kowalinski Way, while the stretch of 71st Street from Eliot Avenue, south to the railroad in Middle Village, will be known as Bishop Joseph Sullivan Way.

“Recognizing and memorializing the dedication of these two men to their country and community is truly a privilege,” Crowley said in a statement. “Queens is both fortunate and unique in that it has a history of such strong public servants, whether they are soldiers or clergymen. It is only right to post their names for all to see in the neighborhoods they have made such an impact on. That way, their legacy can live on for generations to come.”

Frank Kowalinski, born in 1894 in Maspeth, was the first U.S. Army soldier of Polish descent to be killed in combat during World War I. In honor of Kowalinski’s service, the local Polish Legion of American Veterans post in Maspeth is named after him. “We’re incredibly happy, it’s an appropriate memorial for his service,” said John Cennamo, the senior vice commander of the Kowalinski Post in Maspeth.

Bishop Joseph Sullivan, long known as a leading light of New York religious life, spent decades as a tireless advocate for the city’s most destitute citizens.

In 1980 when Pope John Paul II named Sullivan an auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Brooklyn, Sullivan said his mission was to serve “the hurting people of society.” Later in the decade, he visited Washington to testify before Congress on the AIDS epidemic that was devastating New York.

Sullivan, who was killed in a car accident in 2013, served the Our Lady of Hope Parish in Maspeth from its founding in 1960 until his death, and was deeply involved in both secular and religious charitable organizations.

“I knew him for over 45 years. He was a very strong, very giving man. He did a lot of good,” said Father Michael Carrano of Our Lady of Hope Parish.

The dates for the co-naming ceremonies have not yet been determined, but one is planned for the fall, the other for the spring.

You can reach reporter Gabriel Rom at grom@cnglocal.com or at 718-260-4564.

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