Future park project to commence soon; Town may name after Dep. Mayor Cardoza



By Ron Leir

Photo by Jeff Bahr/ Park site to be prepared during summer.




A municipal facility still in the formative stages is already targeted to bear the name of a dedicated Kearny activist.

Sian Doran Schoendorf, granddaughter of the late Deputy Mayor Frank Cardoza, appeared before the governing body April 10 to ask its members to consider naming a future park site on Passaic Ave. – the former Maguillian Fuel & Oil property – in his honor.

According such a tribute would be in recognition “for his many years of service to the community,” Schoendorf said. Cardoza, who died Jan. 19, 2012, at age 93, was also a World War II Navy veteran.

Mayor Alberto Santos and the Town Council were inclined to agree but also wanted input, as per town protocol, from the Kearny Recreation Commission and the United Veterans Organization before formally acting on the recommendation.

It has been the town’s policy to name public spaces for Kearny residents with wartime service and Cardoza, who saw action in the Pacific Theater, certainly qualifies in that respect.

A Massachusetts native, Cardoza lived in Kearny most of his life. His daughter, Veronica “Sandy” Doran, recalled that Cardoza played professional soccer for Portuguese and German teams during the 1940s but gave up the game to become a fulltime dad.

Cardoza, who ran a Kearny Ave. laundromat and served as a Hudson County sheriff ’s officer, never sought public offi ce but the way he responded to friends’ and neighbors’ concerns, you’d easily believe he was working for constituents.

Photo by Ron Leir/ Sian Doran Schoendorf stands beside future park.



“At his funeral,” Schoendorf recalled, “there must have been 400 to 500 people who came and talked to me about my grandfather. Whatever people needed, he would go out and get. It was my grandfather who made the phone call. He fought for what he believed in. … He wasn’t a showy guy but if you wanted something done, he’d do it. They called him ‘the godfather.’ ’’

For many years Cardoza was the Third Ward Democratic chairman and it was in that capacity that he engaged in the constant give and take with residents and mentored younger political novices, always putting others first.

Two who credit Cardoza with “being instrumental” in energizing their political careers are former Councilwoman Barbara Cifelli Sherry and current Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle, both representing the Third Ward.

“As one of the first Americans of Portuguese descent to settle in Kearny – he was a co-founder of the Kearny Portuguese Cultural Association – Frank took me around and introduced me to many of his (Portuguese- American) friends during my first run for office,” Sherry said. “He was extremely helpful and he helped me in every election subsequent to that.”

For Doyle, who also was the benefi ciary of Cardoza as an escort for her initial campaign, it was more than just a political exercise. “He wanted his friends to embrace both (American and Portuguese) communities,” she said. In 2012, the KPCA marked its 33rd anniversary.

Appointed deputy mayor in 2000, Cardoza took the volunteer job “extremely seriously,” Sherry said. “He reported every day to the mayor’s office, give progress reports, visited construction sites. He was very conscientious because he was invested in the life of the town. He loved the people and anything he could do to make their lives better, he’d do.”

“He was very supportive of everything pertaining to our community,” Doyle agreed. “And he never ‘retired,’ he always attended town meetings, he stayed committed to the town of Kearny. He was one of the biggest assets of our community.”

And now, if the Recreation Commission and UVO go along, the town is poised to memorialize his civic contributions by attaching his name to the Passaic Ave. park site, just across from the Redemptoris Mater Seminary.

The town used a combination state Green Acres grant/loan to purchase the 1.5-acre waterfront property for $751,501 in October 2010 and will use $300,000 in county Open Space funding to develop a “passive park” with a walkway, benches and lighting.

Now that the Town Council has authorized Neglia Engineering to prepare plans and specifi cations for the park, Santos anticipates going out to bid by next month and awarding a development contract by June.

Said Sherry: “I don’t think it’s a big enough tribute for Frank, but it’s a good start.”


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