LPC Dismisses Significance of Broadway-Flushing
by Shane Miller
Mar 10, 2009 | 3686 views | 0 0 comments | 69 69 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Councilman Tony Avella addresses the crowd.
Residents of the northeast Queens neighborhood of Broadway-Flushing believe they are living in one of New York City’s most historic neighborhoods, but the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) begs to differ.

At least that was the message sent in a recent letter that was delivered to the elected officials that represent Broadway-Flushing and signed by LPC chairman Robert Tierney, in which he states that the commission has no interest in pursing historic district status for the neighborhood.

“At this time, the Commission declines to recommend Broadway-Flushing for consideration as a historic district,” read Tierney’s letter addressed to Councilman Tony Avella.

Tierney cited a number of new buildings and alterations to original homes that diminish the neighborhood’s historical significance.

“The decision is based on the number of inappropriate new buildings in the area, the numerous alterations to the houses, such as filling in of porches, residing, changing the shape and configuration of openings and removal of decorative details and the lack of strong architectural significance,” continued the letter.

This past Sunday, over 100 Broadway-Flushing residents sent a message of their own at a rally in Bowne Park that they have no intention of giving up their quest of becoming a historic district and protecting their neighborhood from overdevelopment.

Many, including the former president of the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association, Mel Siegel, said the number of non-conforming buildings was evidence that the neighborhood was losing its early-20th Century charm.

“This is exactly why we need this designation,” said Siegel.

The neighborhood has already been recognized as a historic district by both the federal government and New York State, but those distinctions do not place the strict guidelines for development and home alterations that would apply under a city historic district.

“Both the state and national governments have declared this neighborhood a historic district, there is no reason that it shouldn’t be recognized by the city,” said State Senator Frank Padavan.

Siegel actually traveled to Lake George – where the New York State Historic Preservation Commission meets – for the vote on designating Broadway-Flushing. He said a unanimous vote in favor of adding the neighborhood took just a little over ten minutes.

“Everybody who has ever been in this neighborhood has fallen in love with it,” said Siegel, “except LPC.”

Proponents of the historic district are looking to designate approximately 1,300 home sin the neighborhood, which is roughly bounded on the south by Crocheron Avenue and Northern Boulevard, on the east by 170th Street, on the west by 155th Street, and on the north by Bowne Park, where Sunday’s rally was held.

The Historic Districts Council (HDC) supports the designation.

“I am personally disappointed and confused by the decision of LPC, as there are over 1,300 buildings recognized in Broadway-Flushing as being important by the New York State and United State government,” said Paul Graziano, president of HDC and a lifelong resident of North Flushing.

Avella vowed to keep the pressure on the city, the mayor, and LPC, and asked those in attendance at Sunday’s rally to do the same, requesting that they flood City Hall with letters and warning them that they may have to hold similar rallies once a month if that’s what it takes.

To encourage the crowd, Padavan referenced the ten-year battle to get Douglaston Manor designated a historic district, and then the ensuing successful fight to have Douglaston Hill named a historic district a few years back.

“We got LPC to go in and take a look and include homes they left out the first time,” said Padavan.

Avella also said that he called Tierney after receiving his letter and gave him a message.

“I told him, ‘you’ve got a fight on your hands.’”

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