Cohen wants popular corner named after public servant

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It’s likely impossible to forget the contributions Andrew Sandler made to the north Bronx. But just in case, Councilman Andrew Cohen is proposing a simple solution — naming a corner near one of his favorite pubs in Sandler’s memory.

Cohen proposes bestowing the honor to Sandler at West 238th Street and Waldo Avenue, a corner not just popular because of its close proximity to Manhattan College, but also because it’s less than a block from An Beal Bocht Café.

“He lived at that intersection, and he spent a lot of his free time there, especially at An Beal Bocht,” Cohen said.

Sandler died in August after a battle with cancer. He was 31. 

Although he shied away from public office himself, Sandler was considered by many to be a hard-working public servant. He first served as a community liaison for Councilman Oliver Koppell, and continued in that role when Cohen replaced Koppell in 2014.

Last year, Sander was hired as the district manager for Community Board 7 in Norwood, a job that allowed him to continue working for his neighbors, but behind the scenes, where he liked it. 

Renaming the intersection is purely ceremonial, and something Cohen can introduce to city council at any time. Support from Community Board 8 over the move, however, was mixed at best.

During a meeting of the executive committee last week, CB8 narrowly backed Cohen’s bid to memorialize Sandler, not because they had issues with him, but simply because of the process.

Martin Wolpoff, who chairs CB8’s rules and ethics committee, said a two-year moratorium on naming streets after people is a good rule to have, and one that should be followed here.

“It can’t be done out of emotion,” Wolpoff said. “This process is in place so that we can make decisions without the emotion.”

Yet, even if CB8 wanted to block the move, it wouldn’t have the power, Wolpoff conceded. And he doesn’t want to, he said, except to prevent a precedent from taking hold where the two-year waiting period is abolished.

“I was friends with Andrew for so many years,” former CB8 chair Dan Padernacht said. “But anyone who comes to us has to wait for two years.”

In the end, the executive committee said it would send a letter of support for the intersection renaming while expressing frustration with the lack of process. Opposing the decision were Sylvia Alexander, Amy Joy Robateau and Wolpoff.

Cohen said he understood the concerns CB8 expressed, but at the same time, this was something he really wanted to do.

“The community board has their powers, but street-naming is not theirs,” he said. “Andrew had a substantial impact on the quality of life in the community, and even if it wasn’t for the fact that I feel personally strongly about it, this would still be the right move.”

When the intersection will be renamed is still up in the air. Requests are gathered from all the city council members twice a year, and are typically approved in bulk. Cohen does believe there will be a chance to get the corner renamed before the end of the year.

In the meantime, Cohen isn’t the only person looking to remember Sandler a month after his death. An Beal Bocht, located at 445 W. 238th St., will celebrate Sandler’s life Saturday at 3 p.m. 

The casual memorial will be followed by a performance from the Blues-based band Coyote Love at 9 p.m.

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