Douglaston residents held a rally last Friday in front of 38-60 Douglaston Parkway, a 1,400-square-foot home dating back to the turn of the 20th Century. The home is included in the Douglaston Historic District Expansion, a proposal that would add approximately 20 properties to the existing Douglaston Historic District.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission agreed in 2008 to study the the expansion, or “calendered” the proposal, but as of yet no hearing has been scheduled.
Residents are worried that the new owner plans to significantly alter the home at 38-60 Douglaston Parkway, which would not only mean the destruction of what they see as a piece of history, but also jeopardize the merits of the historic district expansion plan.
The Department of Buildings (DOB) issued permits to the new owner that would allow them to “install vertical and horizontal enlargement.”
“Unfortunately, we are here again in front of a historic house to witness its possible destruction or alteration,” said State Senator Tony Avella last week. “It’s like a domino effect. One house goes, and then the next owner wants to do something, and before you know it you’ve lost the character and nature of this wonderful neighborhood.”
Since the building is in a proposed historic district that has been calendered by LPC,the commission should be notified by DOB that permits have been filed and review them.
“I’m going to be in contact with the Department of Buildings to make sure they have followed the proper procedures,” said Avella, who called on the LPC to expedite the approval of the historic district’s expansion.
A spokesperson for LPC said that the commission is still reviewing the proposed expansion, and that the proper procedure was followed in the case of 38-60 Douglaston Parkway.
The home is surrounded by other properties and buildings that have been landmarked. Paul Graziano, who wrote the report that was the basis for the expansion proposal, said the homes on the block were originally included in the Douglaston Historic District in 1997, but eventually removed before it was approved by the city.
“That side of the street is in the landmark district, that house over there is in the landmark district,” said Graziano. “There is no reason why these shouldn’t be designated.”
In addition to losing a piece of history, residents are worried about what could be built on the property. The house sits on a nearly 8,000-square-foot lot, and under the existing zoning a structure about 4,000 square feet in size would be allowed.
Paul Di Benedetto, president of the Bayside Historical Society, said preservation wasn’t about taking away the right to develop.
“We’re not talking about taking away the ability to build in Queens, we talking about saving a tiny bit of history,” he said.