"The 15-year-old battle to preserve this section of Douglaston Hill came to an end...in the Council Chamber," said City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) in a release issued after the Council vote April 20. "It's been a long and arduous fight for the community, but victory is finally theirs.""Now we are an accredited historical district. We're ecstatic," said Bill Sievers, vice president of the Douglaston-Little Neck Historical Society, which was formed in 1989 specifically to lobby for landmarked and historic districts for northeast Queens. "It's really quite something."The district's boundaries run roughly along Northern Boulevard, Douglaston Parkway, the Long Island Rail Road tracks and the Upland Ravine Park in Udalls Cove. The historic district designation, granted by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission, will protect buildings from "inappropriate changes or destruction," and the agency must approve "any alteration, reconstruction, demolition or new construction affecting the designated building," according to the commission's Web site. The Council approval ends a long struggle to designate the neighborhood and its collection of unique, architecturally distinctive homes. The historic district application was sponsored by the Douglaston-Little Neck Historical Society, which has been fighting for 16 years for Douglaston Hill's preservation and protection of the 31 turn-of-the-century homes from unseemly alterations or destruction. The city's Landmarks Preservation Commission initially denied the society's application in December 2003. After a community outcry, however, the agency made an unprecedented reversal and unanimously passed the application on Dec. 14. Douglaston Hill was also added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Sievers said the society would not rest too long on their laurels."Now we're going to assist property owners who are now subject to landmark laws on how to adhere to them. That's going to be the next step," he said. "We give help and assistance in getting them to do what they wish to do to their houses without jeopardizing the appearance." Avella hailed the Council vote as a way to save Douglaston Hill's beautiful homes from destruction."This will protect this neighborhood and the quality of life for generations to come," Avella said.There are five other city landmark districts in Queens, including Douglas Manor, most of the Civil War-era Fort Totten in Bayside, Hunters Point, Jackson Heights and Stockholm Street in Ridgewood. Now Queens has a sixth landmarked district in Douglaston Hill.Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
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