The current project to create a pedestrian plaza where Myrtle and Cooper avenues intersect in Glendale is almost finished, and some people around the neighborhood would like to see the plaza named after Firefighter William Tolley who died in April while battling a blaze in Ridgewood.
There’s just one problem: the triangle already has a name.
The request was brought to the attention of the Community Board 5 (CB 5) Public Transportation Committee during the committee’s monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 23, at the board office in Glendale.
A longtime staff member at P.S. 88 in Ridgewood sent the request to the board, after making the request to the FDNY, Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5, announced.
The triangle is currently called the Glendale Veterans Triangle, and is home to the Glendale War Memorial, which was dedicated in 1921 to honor the 21 Glendale residents who died in combat during World War I, and is a major piece of the neighborhood’s history.
Although Tolley gave his life serving Ridgewood out of the Glendale-based Engine Company 286/Ladder Company 135, committee members were apprehensive about recommending the renaming of a plaza that already has a memorial dedicated to it.
The committee, however, did discuss alternate options to remember Tolley, his 14-year career in the Glendale firehouse, and the sacrifice he paid serving the community.
One option put forth was the pedestrian plaza at 71st and Myrtle Avenues in Ridgewood, near where Tolley took his tragic fall. But, there are plans in the works to possibly name that plaza after Herman Hochberg, who was instrumental in making the neighborhood into what it is today.
Another space suggested by the committee is the opposite end of the Myrtle/Cooper plaza, near the Mobile gas station.
“Maybe something could be created there,” said Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID). “It needs some enhancement. Right now it’s a barren, concrete area.”
In lieu of naming a plaza after Tolley, the committee also brought up the idea of possibly co-naming a street in the late firefighter’s honor. Some of the suggested locations included the block where Tolley fell, Wyckoff and Putnam avenues; or the section of Myrtle Avenue in front of the firehouse near 66th Place.
After much discussion, the committee decided to table the request for now due to the many variables involved in renaming or naming a plaza at this time.
“This is very close to the tragedy, and maybe some dust needs to settle a little bit,” said John Maier. “And this needs to be thought about, like where to best address the needs of the Department, his colleagues, and the communities.”