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Civic leader recognized for community efforts

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Civic leader Jonathan Ridgeway has never been one to stay silent when it comes to the quality of life in his quiet corner of Little Neck.

As the longtime president of the Westmoreland Association Inc., Ridgeway and his group have led the fight to preserve the character of the neighborhood and enforce the area’s unique property restrictions.

“We’re really very serious about it,” said Ridgeway, who has been president of the group since 1986 and a resident since 1980. “The result is we’ve been able to maintain a very nice looking community. We’re very proud of where we live.”

It is Ridgeway’s pride in his community that drives him to stay involved, and recently City Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis) honored Ridgeway with a proclamation recognizing his work.

“It’s just wonderful,” Ridgeway said of the proclamation. “It’s so exciting and moving to me that in his final term in the City Council that he took the time out to come to the Westmoreland Association meeting and give me the honor.”

Leffler, who is being forced out of office by term limits, presented Ridgeway with the proclamation Sept. 10, the day before the originally scheduled Democratic primary, in which the longtime councilman was running for the borough president’s office. The election was rescheduled after the Twin Towers were attacked.

Ridgeway said he has worked extensively with Leffler and other elected officials over the years to protect the Westmoreland community, which stretches from 39th Road and the Long Island Railroad to the north to Northern Boulevard on the south and between Nassau Road on the east and Little Neck Parkway on the west.

What distinguishes the homes in Westmoreland from the surrounding northeast Queens community, Ridgeway said, is a set of protective restrictions written into property deeds which feature requirements for how far back homes or fences may be built on the properties. While the deeds carry other restrictions, or covenants, the setbacks of homes and fences are the ones the civic deals with regularly, Ridgeway said.

The restrictions may seem silly to some, Ridgeway said, but they give the community “nice wide vistas as you look down the street.”

In fact, the Westmoreland Association has brought homeowners and developers who fail to observe those covenants to court and in 1986 the civic won a landmark legal decision which advanced the rights of homeowner’s groups, Ridgeway said.

“It increased the rights that homeowner’s associations have to defend community issues,” Ridgeway said.

In addition to his civic work Ridgeway has spent more than 30 years as a city employee and has served as an active member of Community Board 11 since 1993.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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