Bay Ridge board seeks to expedite street naming for 9/11 hero

By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle

A proposal to name a Bay Ridge street corner in memory of a September 11 hero will be put on the fast track after Community Board 10 leaders said they were willing to bend the rules to accommodate the request.

Two local lawmakers, U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) and state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge-South Brooklyn) are leading the effort to get the city to name the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 85th Street “Firefighter Michael G. Behette 9/11 Memorial Way” in tribute to Behette, a firefighter who worked on the recovery effort at Ground Zero.

Behette died in September of lung cancer that his family believes was connected to his work at the World Trade Center site.

Requests for street namings routinely go through the local community board before they are presented to the City Council. Community Board 10 recently adopted new rules regarding street naming requests, including a provision requiring a two-year waiting period before a street could be named for an individual.

But Board 10 Chairman Joanne Seminara told members at their Oct. 15 meeting that an exception will be made for Behette. “After consulting with the executive committee this week, I have decided to make a decision in connection with the application in honor of Michael Behette, a firefighter who we understand died as a result of injuries he sustained September 11, 2001, given that his untimely death relates back to he tragic day more than 10 years ago, when so many other heroes, heroines, and innocent victims were lost,” she said.

Behette, a Dyker Heights resident, was assigned to Ladder Co. 172 in Bensonhurst. When the towers were hit, Behette was on vacation in Florida. Unable to get a flight home, he drove straight to Ground Zero where he worked for the next 31 days in rescue and recovery operations. He stayed on site for six more months. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and died September 17 [, 2012].

“Michael Behette was a true American hero who bravely rushed into a dust cloud of danger when others ran away. His selfless love for our city, for others, and for his profession as New York City firefighter ultimately cost him his life, and that should never be forgotten,” Grimm said.

“Firefighter Michael Behette was an example to us all. His dedication to the recovery efforts is a reminder of the service and sacrifice of our bravest to help move our city forward after we were attacked,” Golden said.

Grimm and Golden wrote a letter to Seminara requesting that the board support the street name proposal. Grim has also met with members of Behette’s family to discuss how to move the proposal forward.

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