Tag Archives: landmark

Historic Fresh Meadows horse stable faces eviction


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan

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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State senator wants to landmark Flushing Meadows-Corona Park


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Landmark the park.

That’s what State Senator Tony Avella wants for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to block development in the area.

These include an entertainment center at Willets Point — an area that is technically parkland — along with expansions at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and a proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium.

The projects are either inside or on the edge of the park, but only the proposed soccer arena would require replacement parkland to be installed somewhere relatively close to Flushing Meadows. Normal park users, however, will not get the same access to this new park, Avella said, and Flushing Meadows would become overcrowded.

“Normally when you have some alienation, [and] you have some land coming in, you have to replace parkland of equal acreage some place everyone can agree upon. You may actually replace the amount of acreage, but the number of people who use it would be significantly less.”

Landmarking includes a review of the park for its historical and cultural value. The independent commission will look at these and decide whether or not it goes to a full vote.

“We put together what I think are very significant reasons why it should be done,” said Avella. “The historic aspect of the park in terms of two Worlds Fairs, housing the United Nations for a period of time and the fact that it is the borough park.

All three projects require a vote from the City Council, and then approval from the state because green space will be lost. Avella said should the bill go to the state level — in order to approve any removed parkland — he would push his colleagues in the chamber to vote down the expansions.

Risa Heller, spokesperson for MLS, said the league wanted to help refurbish the park and have a long working relationship with the parks department.

“MLS is deeply committed the long term health and vibrancy of FMCP which is why we will make a significant investment in the park in addition to replacing community fields,” she said. “We plan to be a long term partner for the park and plan to do everything we can to ensure it meets the needs of the surrounding communities.”

Spokespersons for USTA and the Willets project were reached for comment, but were not able to respond by press time.

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Brinckerhoff Cemetery granted landmark status by City Council


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Landmarks Preservation Commission

The landmark status of a historic Colonial-era burial ground in Fresh Meadows has been approved by the City Council.

The council voted overwhelmingly to accept Brinckerhoff Cemetery’s landmark designation on December 10 after the 18th century site was approved for official landmark status by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) in August.

“With the landmarking of the Brinckerhoff cemetery, an irreplaceable part of Queens’ history will be preserved in perpetuity,” said Councilmember James Gennaro. “The countless hours that I and many others dedicated to this landmarking have been a wonderful investment that will yield historic and educational dividends for the people of Queens for generations to come.”

Local leaders and preservationists in the neighborhood fought through endless legal wrangling for more than a decade to save the 182nd Street site, Gennaro said.

The vote preserves and protects the final resting place for roughly 80 of the borough’s earliest and most prominent settlers from development.

“Queens is rich with historical treasures dating back to the Dutch era, from the Flushing Remonstrance and the Bowne House to Brinckerhoff Cemetery,” said Councilmember Dan Halloran. “It’s important to preserve the historical legacy of the borough.”

The next step, Gennaro said, is to find a nonprofit group capable of purchasing and maintaining the property.

According to the LPC, 13 cemeteries in the city have been designated as landmarks, including seven in Queens.

Brinckerhoff Cemetery given landmark status


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Landmarks Preservation Commission

A historic colonial-era burial ground in Fresh Meadows has been given official landmark status, according to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).

The 18th century Brinckerhoff Cemetery will be preserved and protected from development after LPC leaders voted unanimously to designate it as a landmark on August 14, pointing to its archeological importance as a major factor in their decision.

“This cemetery, despite all of the changes that have occurred around it, remains one of a handful of sites that directly ties New York City to its earliest days as a Dutch settlement,” said LPC Chair Robert Tierney.

The 182nd Street site is the final resting place for roughly 80 of the borough’s earliest and most prominent settlers. But since the land bears no visible markers or gravestones, and is now peppered with scattered trees and shrubs, critics had raised regulatory questions about the possible designation.

LPC leaders, however, ultimately decided there is no evidence the historic graves and markers were removed and agreed the site’s subsurface conditions should not be disturbed.

“There is a hope that buried underneath are headstones and that in the future this site in the right hands could be restored or re-created to a certain extent to the cemetery that it is,” said LPC General Counsel Mark Silberman.

The designation drew praise — and archaic shouts — from dozens of elected officials, civic leaders and preservationists in the neighborhood who pushed to save the cemetery for more than a decade.

“As colonial-era Queens settlers were known [to] exclaim upon hearing great news, it is apropos that we shout huzzah on this day,” Councilmember James Gennaro said. “This designation has been a long time coming. [The cemetery] is a crown jewel in the pantheon of Queens’ rich historical treasures.”

If the City Council votes to approve the designation, Gennaro said the next step would be to find a nonprofit group capable of purchasing and maintaining the property.

Linda’s CAI Trading, which purchased the land in 2010, could not be reached.

Thirteen total cemeteries in the city have been designated as individual landmarks, the LPC said, including seven in Queens.

 

Forest Hills firehouse named landmark


| RubenMuniz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photos by Sana Karim-Noori

The “Pride of the Hills” is now the pride of the city.

Engine 305 and Ladder 151 in Forest Hills, located at 111-02 Queens Boulevard, was one of six landmarks named by the city recently.

The firehouse, whose motto is “Pride of the Hills,” has been in operation since 1924 and is one of the oldest operating firehouses in the city.

The building resembles a fortress with its neo-medieval style design. The two-and-a-half story firehouse was built under John R. Silney, the Fire Department’s head building inspector from 1906 to 1933.

The firehouse is an anomaly compared to others around the city. It is asymmetrical in its layout, has a stair tower, a hose-drying tower and a working fireplace and chimney. It features a copper roof as well as arched windows. The architecture is a far cry from the square roofed firehouses that were being built elsewhere around the city at the time.

Firefighter Barry McWilliams was glad to hear of the building’s new landmark status.

“We have made some modifications, but a lot of things are still the same. We keep a lot of history all over,” said McWilliams, referring to the vintage, yet still functional, infrastructure of the building, as well as old photos and memorabilia of the house.

“Look around. It is historic and should definitely be a landmark. It’s been around here forever,” McWilliams said.

- Additional reporting by Greg Giaconelli

One last spin for land marking Forest Park Carousel


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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Forest Park Carousel is getting one more spin at landmark status.

Area residents and leaders hope to have the historic local landmark officially recognized as one by the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission.

The carousel — which last spun in 2008 — is currently being reviewed by the commission to see whether it meets the eligibility for landmarking.

For the merry-go-round to be considered, it must have official historical or aesthetic interest or value as part of the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of the city, state or nation, as well as be at least 30 years old, said a spokesperson for the commission.

The carousel — built in 1903 and featuring figures carved by master sculptor Daniel Muller — passes the age criteria and many area residents would attest to its heritage and cultural importance.

“I think landmarking would be a fantastic way of preserving it,” said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Resident’s Block Association, who is pursuing the landmarking. “It’s part of our shared history. It’s part of our community.”

The fact that there are already two carousels landmarked in the city — the Central Park and Prospect Park carousels — has not escaped Wendell’s attention. Those Manhattan carousels are part of larger scenic landmarks, something Wendell feels Forest Park can qualify for, offering the George Seuffert, Sr. Bandshell, the greenhouse and carousel as just a few examples of the park’s historical significance.

The city’s landmarking commission gave no timetable for when a decision on the carousel’s eligibility will be determined. If the commission grants it is eligible, the carousel will then face a hearing and the proposal will go to a vote after which it will be reviewed by the city planning commission and city council.

“This is going to be a long process. Nothing moves fast in this city,” said Wendell, adding that despite not having a timetable, he is confident. “I think we have an excellent chance. Everyone would be happy about it. It’s got to happen.”

He attributed his positive feelings to the combined good will of the local residents. The Save the Forest Park Carousel Facebook page has over 1,100 likes. And those that want to wear their support for the carousel on their sleeve can still purchase “Save the Forest Park Carousel” T-shirts from the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association’s web site.

The carousel has not been operated since its vendor, New York One, did not renew its contract in 2008. Three requests for proposals (RFPs) have been issued since the carousel last operated and the Parks Department announced a fourth RFP on Tuesday, December 13. The Parks Department said it will conduct “extensive outreach” to find a suitable vendor.