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Historic group honors Richmond Hill society

The society, a non-profit organization founded in 1997, was also credited by the council for its achievement in getting the Republican Club, which was going to be demolished, recognized as a landmark in 2003, according to the society's president, Nancy Cataldi. The council also commended the society at the ceremony for including five institutions in the National Register of Historical Places: P.S. 66, the RKO Keith's theater, the Church of the Resurrection, Maple Grove Cemetery and the Forest Park carousel. By being on the register, grants may be provided to those places for restoration work, Cataldi said, noting that the Church of the Resurrection is currently undergoing restorations.Cataldi said she hoped to speak with Commissioner Robert Tierney of the Landmarks Preservation Commission about the potential landmark designation for portions of downtown Richmond Hill at the ceremony, but she said he failed to show up. Cataldi said she plans on calling Tierney later in the week. Earlier this month representatives from the commission went to Richmond Hill to view houses in the area, but Tierney has yet to look at the potential site. Cataldi said the commission will make one more visit and she expects to hear a decision on the issue next month.City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) was given the "Friends in High Places" Award by the council for his sponsorship of the "Failure to Maintain" bill.The legislation enables the Landmarks Preservation Commission to bypass the State Supreme Court and impose penalties on landlords who are found to neglect city landmarks and historic district buildings to the point where the structure of the building deteriorates. Seeking justice in State Supreme Court was both time-consuming and costly, Avella said, which led him to introduce the bill more than 15 years ago. It has been nearly two months since the bill was passed amid the concerns of Council members and religious groups who were not sure how places of worship would be able to comply with the bill due to the struggle to raise funds for repairs. Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173

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