May 27, 2021 By Christian Murray
A new flag pole will go up in the Blissville section of Long Island City where a century-old pole was located before it was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
The original flagpole, which was part of the Blissville Veterans Memorial that was established after WWI, was cut down by the city shortly after it was damaged by the hurricane.
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said that he had been trying to get the Dept. of Transportation to erect a new pole at the site—which is located where Greenpoint Avenue, Review Avenue, and Van Dam Street all meet—with little success.
Van Bramer said that the agency had failed the community and that he has decided to step in and allocate $500,000 from the city budget to have it replaced.
“The Blissville Civic Association, Community Board 2 and [local resident] Thomas Mituzas have been trying to get the DOT to take responsibility and shamefully they refused at every turn,” Van Bramer said. “Ultimately, I wanted to get this done for the community.”
The $500,000 will be used to replace the flagpole, upgrade the memorial and the public space that surrounds it.
“I want this to be a civic space that the people of Blissvillle can take pride in,” Van Bramer said. “It is of great significance to the residents.”
Mituzas, a Blissville resident whose family has lived in the area since 1907, said that the flagpole means a great deal to the community, which consists of about 500 residents.
He said that many of his great uncles fought for the country and that it is a monument to them and others.
“I think of my great uncle and how he came home, with half of his face burned off,” Mituzas said. Many people suffered, he added, and should be remembered..
Mituzas said that residents visit the memorial several times a year, such as on Memorial Day, Veterans Day and on July 4.
“Our memorial serves as a place to remember and honor all those Blissville residents who served our country and the families that sacrificed as well. It serves as a reminder of the travesties of war,” Mituzas said.
He has been advocating for a new flagpole since 2013 and has been helped by Lisa Deller and Sheila Lewandowski of Community Board 2 to get it done. He said he was especially grateful to Van Bramer for his backing.
“The people of Blissville deserve this,” Mituzas said. “Restoring this flagpole will provide the rightful honor to all who served and shall stand as a testament to the power that can exist when a community comes together.”
Mituzas said a remembrance ceremony will be held at the site on Memorial Day at 2:30 p.m.