Horses in a historic Queens barn may have their last trot in a century-old stable.
“Everyone’s saddened to see that it’s in jeopardy,” said equestrian master Joy Tirado, 43.
The Western Riding Club in Fresh Meadows—and its seven steeds—faces eviction now that property owner John Lightstone, 87, has put the land up for sale after three decades of ownership.
He currently leases the stable at 169-38 Pidgeon Meadow Road to Tirado for $600 a month.
Lightstone’s attorney, Jeff Schwartz, said it has become increasingly difficult for the widower octogenarian to manage the 5,539-square-foot plot on his own.
“He wants to sell his home and move into a smaller home with a simpler lifestyle,” Schwartz said. “It’s his property. He should be allowed to sell it.”
Tirado has until May 19 to exercise the “right of first refusal” clause in her lease, meaning she must substantially match the $800,000 offer already made by another party to buy the property no later than August.
“We need to maintain this horse stable here that has been a major factor within this community because its historical value is immeasurable,” said Tirado, who adopts rescue horses.
She also offers free therapeutic services every day to about 20 youths, seniors and cancer patients.
“It’s a wonderful community resource that unfortunately we may lose,” said State Senator Tony Avella. “We don’t do enough to preserve the unique character and history of each neighborhood.”
Avella called for the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to review the barn for landmark designation.
“The stable brings us back to the days when all of Queens was farmland,” he said. “To this day, it remains one of the few stables left within a residential community.”
Nearly 200 people have signed an online petition to save the barn by giving it landmark status.
“This is a real heritage,” said Beverly McDermott, president of the Kissena Park Civic Association. “If the city had half a heart and any brains, they would give [Lightstone] fair purchase price for this property and run it as a facility for children and for adults who need special therapy.”
Schwartz shot down rumors that the land—which preservationists say could fit four homes—would be sold to developers. He also said Lightstone loves and sympathizes with the horses.
“In this present economy and in this industry, it is almost universal that when somebody buys a property,” the attorney said, ”they don’t want to buy it with a tenant in place. They want it vacant.”
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