Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wakefield News: Community Fighter Remembered

Wakefield News: Community Fighter Remembered: By Dan Gesslein  BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 12 - One of the strongest voices defending Bronx communities has been silenced. Communi...

Community Fighter Remembered

By Dan Gesslein 
BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 12- One of the strongest voices defending Bronx communities has been silenced. Community leaders and residents said goodbye to Wakefield Taxpayers Associaton president and Bronx News columnist Mary Lauro. 
Lauro passed away last week after a bout with cancer. The 87-year-old former chemist has been fighting to keep Wakefield and other Communities strong for the past 25 years.
"This is a void that can never be filled," said Carmen Rosa, district manager of Community Board 12.
For years Lauro fought through her organization and her column to correct the issues that were impacting the communities. One such issue was the OTB in Wakefield. She railed against the impact the run down betting parlor had on the surrounding community. The tiny location attracted large crowds that would spill out on to White Plains Road with drinking, garbage and public urination. The community Lauro focused through her column started a letter writing campaign which led to the relocation of the site to a new facility. Eventually OTB was shut down throughout the city.
"Her articles started conversations. Residents would buy the paper to see what Mary had to say this week," Rosa said.
Another major issue Lauro fought was the problem of widespread illegal conversions. In Wakefield and in many Bronx communities, homeowners illegally converted one and two-family homes into multiple family rentals. In addition to the fact that many of these rents are not claimed, the community suffers from lack of services. The populations from these illegal apartments are not counted in the official population and therefore the communities receive fewer services in terms of police and other city services.
"The passing of Mary Lauro is a grievous loss not just for this local Bronx community, but for the borough and city as well because she represented the epitome of what civic involvement is supposed to be about," said Edwin J. Day, Rockland County Legislature. "She was always 'community first' and as a former commander of the 47 precinct detectives and a past civic association president in my hometown, I can make that observation both with absolute certainty and my utmost respect. While Mary will be missed, more importantly she will be remembered as a true beacon for this community."
Friends said even though this month her illness was wearing on her from her hospital bed she was concerned about finishing her latest column.
"I don't know who can take Mary's place," said Elizabeth Gil, president of the 47th Precinct Community Council.
During meetings Lauro questioned beat cops and police commissioners equally when they cited statistics she did believe were accurate.
"Mary was a true believer in community service," Rosa said. "She could have walked away years ago but didn't."