The two monuments, originally built to serve as street markers and aesthetically appealing gateways to the community, have since fallen victim to vandalism, graffiti and have even been knocked around by wayward cars over the years. Liu said he secured the money from the city budget for the Department of Cultural Affairs and specifically earmarked it for the monuments' restoration.Although cracks, missing pieces and graffitied street tags riddle the structures, they still stand and members of the Queens Historical Society and the Waldheim Neighborhood Association are finally claiming victory after a long fight to save them from destruction."We had tried to do this a couple years ago, but we kept walking into brick walls," said Joan Damian, president of the neighborhood association. "We found out we could get some help from John Liu, so we're very fortunate that he got it done. Once these are destroyed, you can never go back and put something there. We're trying to maintain our neighborhood and keep it up and maintain (it) the way it looks."The monuments stand just off the sidewalks on the northwest and southwest corners of the intersection. Constructed by the developer of the distinctive homes along Cherry Avenue circa 1925, the pair of decorative brick piers were originally part of a set of four. Two others, formerly located at the intersection of Cherry Avenue and Kissena Boulevard, have since been torn down to make room for commercial businesses.Without the restoration efforts, advocates say the crumbling stone on the existing set provides a danger to passersby."It's a shame that these street monuments have fallen into such disrepair to the extent that they are not only becoming an eyesore, but they are also potentially posing some hazards to pedestrians," said Liu. "This is about preserving a piece of history. It's about preserving the identity of this very distinctive Waldheim neighborhood."Queens Historical Society Director Mitchell Grubler said the posts will be dismantled, cleaned and reconstructed using as much of the original material as possible. Missing stone pieces of the Georgian Revival style posts will be cast in stone and reattached."Who knows? Perhaps there will be other neighborhoods that will see the restoration of these monuments as a model and their councilman will also help them out in restoring them," he said. "They really add to the character and the livability of these neighborhoods."Reach reporter Scott Sieber by e-mail at news@timesledger or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.
©2005 Community News Group
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