Bellerose Manor community leaders and local elected officials gathered Oct. 5 to honor the memory of community leader Bernard Aquilino with a street co-naming ceremony.
City Councilman Barry Grodenchik and state Assemblyman Clyde Vanel recognized Aquilino’s more than 40 years of exceptional community service with a street sign at the southeast corner of Seward Avenue and 235th Street in Bellerose Manor, now known as Bernard M. Aquilino Place.
Aquilino served 25 years as president of the Rocky Hill Civic Association elevating the quality of life in Bellerose Manor with his tireless advocacy of the neighborhood.
“Bernard Aquilino was the epitome of what a civic leader should be. He diligently labored to maintain and improve our civic area,” said Frank Toner, vice president of the Rocky Hill Civic Association. “The entire community benefited from his work and dedication.”
The request for the co-naming came from the Rocky Hill Civic Association with support from neighboring civic groups and Community Board 13Q. The law establishing Bernard M. Aquilino Place was sponsored by Grodenchik and approved by the New York City Council.
“The late Bernard Aquilino did outstanding work for Bellerose Manor and for all of eastern Queens,” Grodenchik said. “I cannot think of a more appropriate way to honor a man so dedicated to his community and the borough.”
Known as Barney, Aquilino joined the Rocky Hill Civic Association in the 1970s and soon after became president — a position he held for more than 25 years. He was involved in the association for more than 40 years. Along with state Senator Padavan, he successfully prevented the city from closing P.S. 18Q, the community’s local elementary school. Aquilino also facilitated the relocation of a sanitation garage so the community would not have to hear trucks constantly rumbling through its streets.
Aquilino helped sustain local youth groups, educated homeowners about government services, and personally weeded and cleaned public spaces in his neighborhood. He also led the fight to have the U.S. Postal Service rename his community Bellerose Manor.
Borough President Melinda Katz and Queens lawmakers remembered Aquilino as a true leader and advocate who worked to make the community a better place for everyone.
“Bernard M. Aquilino dedicated his life to bettering his community through his selfless acts of community service,” Katz said. “From this day forward, all who pass through this intersection will be reminded of the tireless dedication to others exhibited by Mr. Aquilino.”
State Senator John Liu said Aquilino’s unwavering dedication to making his community a better place, regardless of how big or small the issue was, has left a lasting legacy.
“People like Bernard not only make our community better, but make our city the beacon it is,” Liu said.
Corey Bearak, Esq., acting president of the North Bellerose Civic Association, said Aquilino had “integrity setting a good example for younger activists.”
“I recall Barney Aquilino as a good man with whom I enjoyed working on many a project — from sitting the Community Board 13 Sanitation garage on Winchester Boulevard under the Grand Central Parkway instead of on the Creedmoor campus next to Bellerose homes to developing, under the auspices of the Queens Civic Congress, a Civic Master Plan that guided much of the re-use of much of the Creedmoor campus, including the three public schools there,” Bearak said. “We won some good fights.”
As for Aquilino’s family, they’re very grateful for the honor.
“Second only to his love for his family, this neighborhood and the Rocky Hill Civic Association were our father’s passion,” said Steven A. Aquilino, DDS, MS, Professor Emeritus, Department of Prosthodontics, University of Iowa. “He was incredibly proud of his 25-year tenure as Civic Association president and of the impact he had on the community. Naming this street Bernard M. Aquilino Place is a wonderful tribute to him for all his hard work and dedication.”