Government

Fairfield Council Agrees to Find New Way to Honor Late Football Coach Michael Palmieri

eeb2f15230b4b16ba4e7_Screen_Shot_2017-03-15_at_10.50.44_PM.jpg
Thomas and Taylor Zuczek, grandchildren of Coach Michael Palmieri, stand by the original plaque and monument dedicated in their grandfather's memory at the Hollywood Avenue Park Credits: Maria Lomuscio
3ad44e6ac6f4b8deb91a_89878.jpeg
Anthony Palmieri of Cedar Grove addresses the Fairfield mayor and council about the plaque in honor of his father, Coach Michael Palmieri, at the Hollywood Avenue Park Credits: Gail Bottone
83654ea4ce29362b2dea_Screen_Shot_2017-03-15_at_10.50.31_PM.jpg
Plaque is moved to field's backstop in honor of Coach Michael Palmieri Credits: Maria Lomuscio
a3a9192109bda3cbb20c_Screen_Shot_2017-03-15_at_10.50.17_PM.jpg
Mary Scangarello Recreation Complex monument is built at the Hollywood Avenue Park. Football coach Michael Pamieri's monument is gone and replaced with plaque on backstop of baseball field Credits: Maria Lomuscio
eeb2f15230b4b16ba4e7_Screen_Shot_2017-03-15_at_10.50.44_PM.jpg

FAIRFIELD, NJ — Anthony Palmieri of Cedar Grove, son of former Fairfield recreation football coach Michael Palmieri, addressed the Fairfield Township Council on Monday to inquire why his father’s monument was removed from Hollywood Avenue Park and why his memorial plaque was moved to the backstop of the baseball field.

Many friends and family members, including Michael Palmieri’s wife and son, Michael, came to the meeting to support Anthony Palmieri at the council meeting. Fairfield residents Dan Scirica and Maria Lomuscio also came to the microphone in support of the family.

When the new recreation building at the Hollywood Avenue Park was built, the township named the building the Mary Scangarello Recreation Complex. Scangarello worked as a volunteer for six years and then as Fairfield’s superintendent of parks and recreation for 27 years before retiring in 1995 after 33 years of service to the township.

Sign Up for E-News

With construction of the new recreation building, the original monument and plaques that had Scangarello’s and Palmieri’s names were taken down.

A new monument was built for the recreation complex, which only has Scangarello’s name, and a plaque honoring Palmieri was placed on the backstop of the baseball field, which was previously the football field.

Many residents in township were upset that the original monument built specifically to honor Palmieri was taken down.

Mayor James Gasparini explained that there was no disrespect intended by the changes. He assured the family and friends in attendance that the township will work with them to put up another monument in Michael Palmieri’s honor near the field.

With many loved ones in attendance, a portion of the council meeting served as tribute to the man. According to those in attendance, Palmieri had coached recreational football for many years. He died in 1987 of leukemia at the age of 44.

His wife explained that Palmieri was so dedicated to the children of Fairfield that all he wanted to do near the end of his life was to go to the football field to be with the young football players. He made it there one last time despite being terribly sick.

Lomuscio said that her family is “very good friends with the Palmieri family, and they have been friends for over 20 years.” Robert and Arleen Lombardi, her parents, were one of the families who started the fundraising committee to have the plaque made.

She added that the plaque originally only had Michael Palmieri’s name on it. Years later, the township added the plaque that included Mary Scangarillo’s name.

Mario Benaquista, who was not at the council meeting, had helped to build the original monument in 1988.

“Coach Palmieri was a great father, husband, friend, teacher and an outstanding football coach,” he said after Monday’s meeting.  

Benaquista’s son, Christopher, was also a close friend to the Palmieri family. Although Christopher was too young to be coached by Palmieri, he said Palmieri was important to him. Christopher is now the head football coach at West Essex High School.

"Mr. Palmieri represented everything that is right with youth football,” he said. “He taught so many Fairfield boys life lessons that made us better men. Honoring Mr. Palmieri and keeping his memory alive is so important to so many people.”

Fairfield resident Anthony Lombardi, who was coached by Palmieri said that Coach Palmieri put the kids first and taught the students self-respect and leadership.

“He treated everyone the same,” said Lombardi. “He was coaching long before the days when fathers coached because they wanted to have an advantage for their kids. He didn't care about that. He treated each and every player the same.”

Jack Bikoff, who also was coached by Palmieri, was at the meeting in support. Other supporters included Tom DiNardo, Robert Rosania and Gerry Cerrigone.

“Mike was a great father and a great man,” said Robert Lombardi. “He did a lot for kids in the Fairfield recreational program. You will never find a better man.”

The Palmieri family and friends have agreed to work with the mayor and council to create a monument that will befit the man. 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Verona/Cedar Grove

Original Pancake House of West Caldwell Evacuated in Possible Pepper Spray Incident

May 20, 2018

WEST CALDWELL, NJ — The Original Pancake House in West Caldwell was evacuated early Saturday afternoon due to a possible pepper spray incident that caused ambulances from the West Essex, Verona and Bloomfield First Aid Squads to assist at the scene.

Bianca Pietro, a West Orange mother of two, said she was seated inside the glass atrium on the south side of the building that faces ...

Cedar Grove Police Blotter

May 21, 2018

May 14, 2018 – May 20, 2018

On May 14, 2018 at 5:57 p.m., Ptl. Michael Passafiume stopped a vehicle without a front license plate and tinted windows. A subsequent investigation led to the arrest of the 36 year old male driver from Paterson for driving with a suspended license. He was processed and released with a summons to appear in municipal court.

On May 15, 2018 at 8:31 a.m., Ptl.

Community Sends Thoughts and Prayers to East Brook Middle School, Paramus Strong

May 17, 2018

PARAMUS, NJ – Around 10:30 AM Thursday morning, a bus filled with East Brook Middle School 5th Grade Students was involved in a motor vehicle accident along I-80 in Mount Olive, NJ. The students were enroute to Waterloo Village for a class field trip. It was initially reported that the bus had collided with a dump truck causing the bus to roll into the median and dislodge from its ...

Upcoming Events

Tue, May 22, 6:00 PM

Montclair Public Library, Montclair

How to Live Longer and Stay Healthy

Health & Wellness

Wed, May 23, 7:30 PM

Cedar Grove Public Library, Cedar Grove

The Caldwell Railway

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_b4f18dfd4f07fd561026_letslisten7-ellington-mplspecs-revised

Fri, May 25, 6:00 PM

Montclair Public Library Auditorium, Montclair

Let's Listen to Jazz

Arts & Entertainment

Author Event at Cedar Grove Library

May 16, 2018

Meet Author and Cedar Grove Resident, Lisa Romeo at the Cedar Grove Library on Thursday, May 17 @ 7 pm. as she discusses her new memoir, Starting with Goodbye, which explores grief, love, loss and father/daughter bonds. Come hear about her book, ask questions and enjoy some light refreshments. Books will be available for sale signed by the author.

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

'To Kill a Mockingbird' Sustains Timeless Appeal

SUMMIT, NJ – The Summit Playhouse provides a stellar production of a much loved classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The Harper Lee novel, later a Gregory Peck film and now a stage production, retains all the warmth, intensity and integrity that made it such an appealing hit in the 1960s. And there will be a new production on Broadway in December with a script by Aaron Sorkin ...

'The Sting' with Harry Connick Jr. Slithers and Shakes at Paper Mill

MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and Chicago.  Scott Joplin’s music is intertwined with the show, especially “The ...