2009-10-28 / Features

Bayside Historical Society Holds Preservation Symposium

BY JASON D. ANTOS

Photo Jason D. Antos Shown (l. to r.) are Urban Specialist Paul Graziano, Historic Districts Council representative Kevin Wolfe, state Senator Frank Padavan, Community Board 11 Zoning Chair Christine Haider and Queens Civic Congress Executive Vice President Patricia Dolan. City Councilmember Tony Avella was also a panelist. Photo Jason D. Antos Shown (l. to r.) are Urban Specialist Paul Graziano, Historic Districts Council representative Kevin Wolfe, state Senator Frank Padavan, Community Board 11 Zoning Chair Christine Haider and Queens Civic Congress Executive Vice President Patricia Dolan. City Councilmember Tony Avella was also a panelist. A preservation symposium cosponsored by the Bayside Historical Society, the Historic Districts Council’s League of Preservation Voters and the Queens Civic Congress, was held at the society’s headquarters on Thursday October 22.

An audience of almost 100 people was on hand at the Officers’ Club of Fort Totten to

listen to a panel of landmark

experts that included state Senator Frank Padavan (R), City Councilmember Tony Avella (D), Kevin Wolfe, representing the Historic Districts Council, Community Board 11 Zoning Chair Christine Haider and Queens Civic Congress Executive Vice President Patricia Dolan. The panel was led by urban specialist Paul Graziano.

Avella opened the evening’s dialogue by declaring that the city was, “at a crossroads”, when it came to historic preservation. “These are battles we fight every day and the only way to preserve history is by voicing your opinion and not keeping silent,” Avella said. He also remembered that his greatest battle for historic preservation in Queens was the Demolition by Neglect case. This meant that an owner would not maintain a building and allow it to fall into such disrepair that it had to be demolished. “Once it’s made into a landmark, it ain’t over yet. There has to be people to care for the property,” Graziano explained.

Padavan described how the process of getting landmark status can take years, sometimes even decades. “The bill went through four different governors including Nelson Rockefeller, Malcolm Wilson, Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo,” Padavan explained regarding his fight to landmark the Queens County Farm Museum. “In the end, a piece of property in Staten Island was swapped [for it]. It is now the oldest continually used farm in New York state.”

Some panelists held that Queens has always played runner up when it comes to the importance of historical landmarks with Manhattan always being a priority. “This is about fairness,” Dolan declared. “If places in Manhattan can be saved, then so can places in Queens.”

After three hours of discussion, the final topic brought before those in attendance was the issue of houses of worship. There now exist more than 40 in a several block radius in Flushing. What were once private homes have been made into churches, mosques and temples. It was argued that these homeowners are not paying taxes on their property because they claim the home as a place of worship.

The Historic Districts Council is the citywide advocate for New York City's designated historic districts and individual landmarks and for neighborhoods and buildings that merit preservation. The Queens Civic Congress (QueensCivicCongress.org) represents more than 110 civic and other community organizations throughout the borough of Queens.

The Bayside Historical Society is dedicated to the preservation of Bayside and its surrounding communities and offers a variety of exhibits and events for the community. For more information, visit baysidehistorical.org.

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