by Kevin Walsh

SOME of NYC’s narrowest parks can be found on either side of the Prospect Expressway, which runs in an open cut through Windsor Terrace, that narrow strip of territory between Green-Wood Cemetery and Prospect Park in Brooklyn. One of these months I’ll do a full survey, but today I’ll mention Thomas Cuite Park at 11th Avenue, pronounced “cute.”

How do I remember the pronunciation? Cuite (1913-1987), a veteran politician, was a big deal in Brooklyn in the 1960s and 1970s and his name was often on the evening newscasts. a Saint Francis College alumnus (like me), he served in WWII and subsequently entered politics, in the NY State Senate from 1953-1958. A Democrat, he served in the NY City Council between 1969 and 1985, succeeded by Peter Vallone, Senior. He was a conservative Democrat allied with the Catholic Church and worked closely with Cardinals Spellman, Cooke and O’Connor. He passed away in 1987 after suffering a heart attack.

Other parks along Prospect Expressway include Seeley Playground, Captain John McKenna IV Park and Greenwood Playground.

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Ray Palermo May 26, 2023 - 3:39 am

When Cuite was Majority Leader of the Council I was Carol Bellamy’s (Council President) Parliamentarian, and happened to live a couple of blocks from him. He was quite a character… old school, “regular Dem”. He carried the water for whomever was mayor — except on Catholic hot button issues, like gay rights.

David Lachmann May 26, 2023 - 6:41 am

Thank you for this post. I had no idea they had put a park named after Mr. Cuite who in his day ruled the City Council with an iron fist. I lived on Terrace Place in those days and remember him well. A small correction: Peter Vallone, Sr. succeeded him as Majority Leader, but Vallone was from Queens and represented a different district. Stephen DiBrienza ran for Mr. Cuite’s seat and won in a hotly contested primary in 1985. I remember those events vividly because I worked on Steve’s campaign that year. Although I had my political differences with Mr. Cuite, he worked hard for his community and would have been pleased to know such a lovely park near his home bore his name. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

Gina Harrigan May 26, 2023 - 6:14 pm

I can’t wait to tell my Mom, Joan Ruberto. She and Ginger Mazzella worked tirelessly to clean up these parks in the 70’s. Working with Mr. Cuite on funding. Prior to their efforts these parks where scary and trashed. She will be happy to know they are still being maintained and usable to the neighborhood. One memory I have; was as a child I accompanied my Mom and Ginger for a meeting with Mayor Koch. Again they stayed the course and the meeting was for him to let them know they would receive more funding. As a child it was big deal going into the city to meet the Mayor. Thank you for sharing. Good memories.


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