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Photo by Anthony Giudice/QNS
Photo by Anthony Giudice/QNS
Tony Nunziato (left) will take over as the new JPCA president in 2018.

For the first time since 1992, the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) will be under new management — but its newly elected president believes that affecting change in Maspeth and Middle Village could be easier than ever.

Tony Nunziato, the JPCA treasurer for the last 14 years and owner of Enchanted Florist & Greenhouse in Maspeth, is taking over as the group’s president in place of Councilman-elect Robert Holden, who held the position for the past 25 years. Nunziato told QNS that he plans to continue with the “status quo” that Holden has established, and believes that having a friendly ear in Holden at City Hall will help the association accomplish more.

“We’ll be dealing with a councilman that’s receptive to the needs of the community, so a call-in for constituent services should get a good response,” Nunziato said.

The decision to run was not easy for Nunziato, however, who said that he “didn’t want to have the title and not be able to do the job.” In fact, Holden said in an interview with QNS on Dec. 21 that he had to convince his longtime friend to run because he could think of no better person to assume the position.

“We considered ourselves warriors in the civic wars,” Holden said. “We were on a number of big battles in the last decade or so, and he was like the guy I would most want to be in a foxhole with.”

But unlike Holden, Nunziato is no stranger to politics. He has ran for the Assembly District 30 seat four times as a Republican, most recently earning 32.07 percent of the vote in a 2016 loss to the Democratic candidate, Assemblyman Brian Barnwell. Holden said he always admired Nunziato for stepping up and trying to do more for his district.

One thing Nunziato does want to do differently for the JPCA is to get more people to stay involved, especially young people, whom he believes should feel more concerned with the neighborhood.

Other than that, he hopes to continue the legacy that Holden is leaving behind, one that has led to many significant victories for the JPCA. The group successfully advocated for the creation of a public park at the former Elmhurst gas tanks site; an expansion of the Middle Village ZIP code into what was formerly known as South Elmhurst; and rezoning areas of Maspeth and Middle Village to protect one- and two-family homes.

Since Nunziato is taking over in the middle of Holden’s term, he will serve as president for one year before another election is held. For now, he said, he’s going to avoid thinking about running for the position again.

“I’m a day-by-day man,” Nunziato said. “If the neighborhood needs me and likes me, I may do it again.”

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