As the firehouse, located at 59-29 68th St., is approaching its 100-year anniversary in 2014, Maspeth-born Steve Fisher and his sister Maxine are calling on the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to grant the firehouse landmark status.
“We like it, we like its character and we want to retain it to the extent that we can,” Mr. Fisher said. “We feel that this building, that’s celebrating its 100th year, warrants landmarking to ensure that there is protection for it to be preserved.”
Steve said his biggest fear is the firehouse could one day be shut down due to budget cuts from the city, and petitioning for landmark status is a way to protect the façade of the structure.
“It protects the exterior of the building,” Fisher explained. “It might be that the use of the building may change, but I think...there are a lot of people who would be very upset [if] the city sold the building and it was going to be torn down.”
Elizabeth de Bourbon, a representative of the LPC, said that while the firehouse was recognized by the National Register of Historic Places as “part of a thematic nomination of NYC firehouses,” the building did not meet landmarking standards following a survey conducted on several firehouses throughout the city in 2007.
“The reason the Maspeth firehouse did not rise to the level of an individual landmark is that it lacks architectural distinction,” de Burbon explained. “It is similar to a number of other firehouses that were constructed at that time and lacks the features, style and qualities that the firehouses that have been named landmarks possess.”
Regarding a 9/11 memorial that was constructed near the firehouse in 2001, landmarks law does not allow for consideration until the site is over 30 years old.
“We considered each one in the context of our criteria for individual landmark designation, not in the context of each other,” she said.
The LPC has designated eight firehouses from the 2007 survey as individual landmarks, including one in Forest Hills and one in the Rockaways.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said the building should be recognized for its historic significance.
NYPD Squad 288 and HazMat 1, which also calls the firehouse home now, lost 19 firefighters in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, more than any other firehouse in the city.
“It is important to preserve the building’s character for future generations so they know the legacy of service, including all the firefighters that made the ultimate sacrifice on September 11,” Crowley said.
The brother and sister plan on presenting their proposal at the next Community Board 5 meeting on September 18.
“We’re going to ask Landmarks to revisit this, either the definition of 30-year significance, or whether there is a way around it by the singular nature of the event,” Fisher said.