Some ideas on preservation for the next Queens borough president

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Preservation (noun)
1. The action of preserving something.
“The preservation of the city’s green spaces”

The issue of neighborhood preservation was the main topic at Monday night’s Queens Borough President forum sponsored by the Queens Historical Society at Flushing Town Hall. All four of the remaining candidates for Queens borough president presented their ideas for how to preserve Queens.

I believe that the office of Queens borough president can be a very powerful and influential one. With a new mayor and City Council, we need a strong Queens borough president. We need someone who is going to be an outspoken advocate in the fight to preserve Queens.

One of the questions asked at the forum was for the candidates to list some specific locations in Queens that they think should be preserved. I was a little disappointed that almost none of the candidates could list any specific locations. I want to take the time to identify three locations that I feel very strongly need to be preserved and I hope the next Queens borough president will fight for.

The Willets Farmhouse (Ft. Totten, Bay Terrace)

The Willets Farmhouse is located in Fort Totten Park. The Willet’s Farmhouse was built in 1829 by Charles Willets and is one of Queens County’s oldest houses.

What is today known as Willets Point was named after the Willets family. The house is very poor condition and is in danger of being lost to us forever. The Willet’s Farmhouse is a beautiful house and should be restored and transformed into a museum that our children and our community can use for generations to come.

The New York State Pavilion (Flushing Meadows-Corona Park)

The New York State Pavilion which includes the World’s Fair Observation Towers and Tent of Tomorrow were built between 1962 and 1964 and was used for the 1964-1965 World’s Fair. The New York State Pavilion was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. The New York State Pavilion has become one of the symbols of Queens along with the Unisphere.

The New York State Pavilion is in terrible condition and if we do not come together and figure out a way to restore it, the Pavilion may one day collapse. I believe that the next Queens borough president must find a way to fully restore the Pavilion. Restoring it to its original condition could bring in tremendous revenue in tourism dollars to the borough.

RKO Keith’s (Flushing)

The RKO Keith’s is a historic RKO Pictures movie theatre located in Flushing. The RKO is the anchor of Main Street Flushing. The RKO Keith’s was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and in 1984 the theatre’s lobby was landmarked by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Over the past few years we have seen many plans come and go for the RKO Keith’s. None of these plans have ever materialized. Most of the plans have included plans for housing. Queens County has enough housing construction projects right now and the last thing we need is more luxury housing. It’s time for the next Queens borough president to sit down and figure out a way once and for all to restore the RKO Keith’s to some sort of theatre / cultural space similar to the revival of the Loew’s Kings Theatre in Brooklyn.

I understand that these projects are controversial and would cost Queens a ton of money. However, I believe that we must preserve these sites and restore them to their original condition. I hope that the next Queens borough president will agree with me and work to turn this into a reality.