EAST VILLAGE — A local board has signed off on a bid to co-name the streets bordering the site of the East Village gas explosion after the tragedy’s victims, and to co-name a third neighborhood street after “Lower East Side hero” and affordable housing champion Mary Spink.
If the City Council votes in line with the Community Board 3 Transportation Committee’s recommendations, Second Avenue between Seventh Street and St. Marks Place will be named for Nicholas Figueroa and Seventh Street between Second and Third Avenues will be named for Moises Locon — both men died two years ago when a gas explosion ripped through a building at the intersection.
The committee’s approval, which will go before the full board at the end of the month, comes after the family of Nicholas Figueroa took to the streets surrounding the site to gather signatures advocating for the co-namings, which will secure signs bearing the men’s names to the streets.
Though the original petition had called for naming Second Avenue for Locon and Seventh Street for Figueroa, the streets were swapped at the request of the Figueroa family. That change is reflected in the committee’s resolution.
The committee also voted in favor of co-naming Second Street between Avenues A and B for former community board member and housing advocate Mary Spink, who died in 2012 after years of service in the neighborhood.
Spink was renowned for having risen from a past of drug addiction and crime to becoming a fierce community advocate as the executive director of the Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing Association.
“She is someone who turned her life around. She’s a Lower East Side hero and I think we should acknowledge that,” said Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, one of several people to speak passionately in favor of the co-naming before the committee Tuesday night.
Community Board 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer, who was friends with Spink, became emotional while speaking about Spink’s mark on the Lower East Side, her dedication to low-income housing and advocacy work.
“It would give me great pleasure to walk down the street and see her name there,” said Stetzer.
Community members pushed for a street co-naming in her honor in 2013, but current board rules state a person must be deceased for two years before a co-naming can be considered.