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Beechhurst sites to be marked for history

The Queens Historical Society will soon make its final selections of which structures in Beechhurst and Robinwood will receive historic designation, the society’s representatives announced Monday.

On Monday night’s Community Board 7 meeting, Stanley Cogan and Jim Driscoll of the Queens Historical Society presented the group’s plans for the two communities within greater Whitestone.

Cogan said the historical society will announce in May a “Queensmark” status for 12 sites in Beechhurst and Robinwood, the two communities along the East River north of the Cross Island Parkway and east of 154th Street.

Cogan explained the history of the program.

“Six years ago, the Queens Historical Society decided that although many Queens structures may never be landmarked, they are special,” said Cogan.

The society then began the Queensmark program, which marks houses, gazebos, religious buildings and other structures with a plaque explaining their historical interest.

Unlike the U.S. Department of Interior’s official landmark program, the Queensmark status has no legal power and cannot prevent a structure from being torn down.

Cogan said that one Queensmark house in Richmond Hill has been slated for demolition since the owner sold it.

“Now you’re going to have a multiple (dwelling),” said Cogan. “It’s just so sad.”

The society, which has already marked such communities as Hunters Point, Jackson Heights and Woodhaven, had planned to give 12 structures in all of greater Whitestone a Queensmark status. But they found so many possibilities that they decided to break up the awarding of the designation.

After the designation for 12 structures in Beechhurst and Robinwood are announced in May, the designation of 12 structures in Whitestone will be announced in November and the designation of 12 structures in Malba will be announced in May 2003.

“We feel by identifying these places we could contribute to Queens’ heritage,” said Cogan.

In the six years of the program’s existence, many winners of Queensmark status have come to covet the designation.

“We saw the pride that winners took,” said Cogan. “One woman came up to us in tears. She was absolutely ecstatic.”

Cogan said he is looking for $2,500 from various organizations to help fund the signs for Beechhurst and Robinwood. When the organization begins the Queensmark program in Whitestone and later Malba, it will also need $2,500 at each of those times.

After the presentation, Community Board 7 voted to approve two applications involving downtown Flushing.

The board approved the Department of Cultural Affairs’ proposal to acquire 135-19 35th Ave. on behalf of Flushing Town Hall, which already uses the property, located about a block away, for parking.

Afterwards, the board approved structural changes to a plan to build a 12-story mixed use building on Roosevelt Avenue. Frank Macchio, who presented the proposal, said the changes improved the flow of the building’s underground parking.

The community board had voted against granting a variance for the proposed building in October 2000, but the Board of Standards and Appeals approved the project anyway.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

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