What Happened to Fan Noli Way? Bronx Albanian-American Community up in Arms.

What Happened to Fan Noli Way? Bronx Albanian-American Community up in Arms.

By Robert Press

On a cold Saturday that should have been a joyous street co-naming in the Albanian-American community of a famous Albanian-American leader turned into a protest of a city council member for dropping the ball in not getting the Department of Transportation to put up the street sign Fan Noli Way. So who was Fan Noli? 

Born in 1882 Fan Noli attended Harvard University, and was an advocate of an independent Albanian country from the Ottoman Empire. When Albania gained its independence he became a member of the Albanian Parliament, and became Prime Minister in July of 1924, only to be overthrown on Christmas Eve of the same year. Noli fled to Italy, winding up in America once again in 1932. He continued his studies in Boston, and went into music before retiring to Florida where he passed away in 1965 at the age of 83. Fan Noli is also known as the founder of the Albanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America, the church which most Albanian-Americans  belong to. 

The bill to co-name the corner of Morris Park and Tenbroeck Avenues Fan Noli way was passed in the City Council as presented by former Councilman Mark Gjonaj. February 26th should have been the day the street co-naming should have taken place, but it will now happen on April 9th. Councilman Rafael Salamanca (who was present) said that he voted in favor of the bill, while Assemblyman Michael Benedetto said that Councilwoman Marjorie Velazquez had done an injustice to the Albanian-Americans of her district. Similar words were said by Assemblywoman Fernandez, who said she stands with the community in this injustice. 

Ardhmir Malziu, a former staffer for former Councilman Mark Gjonaj said that he prepared all the paperwork for the incoming councilwoman to finish for DOT to have the sign made. Former Councilman Mark Gjonaj was a little harsher in his words, saying that Albanian-Americans are a proud people. He was the first Albanian-American elected to political office, and Albanian-Americans are proud of their heros. Ornela Beshiri, a member of Community Board 11 said that she was in contact with Councilwoman Velazquez weeks before the scheduled date of the street co-naming, saying that the councilwoman lied to the Albanian-American community.


Former Councilman Mark Gjonaj held up a mock street sign Fan Noli Way in what should have been a real DOT issued street sign on the pole in the background.


Councilman Salamanca says that he voted to approve the co-naming of the corner Fan Noli Way which passed in the City Council.


Ardhmir Malziu said that he filled out all the paperwork for the incoming councilwoman to send to the DOT.


Elmi Berisha, President of Vatra, Pan Albanian Federation of America said that the missing sign was an insult to the American-Albanian people of the community.


CB 11 member Ornela Beshiri said that Councilwoman Velazquez lied to her, and the Albanian-American community.
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