Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Richmond Hill Video Narrative By The Late Great Nancy Cataldi, & The Absent Landmarks Preservation Commission - We Need A Richmond Hill Historic District ASAP!



Our Beloved Nancy Cataldi
This is a historic Richmond Hill narrative by the late great Historian Nancy Cataldi in 2007. She was a friend of mine and a very dedicated community leader. It was very sad and shocking when she passed away in 2008 in her mid 50s. Nancy Cataldi was the founder and president of the Richmond Hill Historical Society, and a resident of the neighborhood. Her walking tour narrative is a primary source, and now stands as a great tribute to her remarkable legacy. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
* Michael Perlman's Memoir of Nancy Cataldi, A Community Leader We Can All Take Inspiration From, Nov 2009: http://regoforestpreservation.blogspot.com/2009/11/memoir-of-historian-nancy-cataldi.html

What May Be No More Without City & Continued Community Intervention
March 12, 2006 Rally of Queens residents, preservation, & civic organizations coming together on the steps of the Richmond Hill Republican Club, to call upon the Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate a Richmond Hill Historic District. Historian Nancy Cataldi stands in the front center, wearing a black jacket, & Councilman Tony Avella is to her right.
 It is disturbing that our NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission has ignored the community & the Richmond Hill Historical Society's numerous requests for a Historic District, & they will not grant a public hearing since the society's first proposal in 1997, numerous letters from Queenswide preservationists and elected officials, petitions, and rallies. The LPC even visited the wrong series of blocks at one point. They claim the proposed Historic District is too altered. 
 On the contrary, a Victorian mecca is rare in Queens, and much of its historic integrity remains. This fine assemblage of homes also includes Italianate and Craftsman homes. Besides homes, the neighborhood is home to the Church of The Resurrection, the Andrew Carnegie-funded Richmond Hill Library, the Richmond Hill Republican Club, and the RKO Keith's Richmond Hill Theatre. Sadly, the early 1920s Jahn's Ice Cream Parlor shuttered in 2008, to be gutted for a generic fast food restaurant, which has since closed up. This is the Richmond Hill Historical Society's Historic District proposal with boundary lines: http://www.richmondhillhistory.org/district.html
  Where is our Democracy? No public hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Commission? Rather than seeing our Queen Anne gems demolished for the sake of Richmond Hill, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission needs to be restructured from the bottom up. They typically turn their back on garden communities, such as many found in Queens, with the exception of a Jackson Heights Historic District and Sunnyside Gardens Historic District. 
As time does not stand still, it is quite possible that a few of the Victorian homes showcased in Nancy Cataldi's 2007 video are not standing today, and will continue to fall without Historic District designation, which would be an asset to our quality of life, character, history and art, education, and property values. The downzoning that went into effect a number of years ago is not solid enough to preserve architectural character and the physical cultural history, but only limits the stories and size of new construction.
When a district in Manhattan gets calendared, heard, and designated every other week, and not the same in a borough outside Manhattan, that is a double-standard of our city government. It is a failure of public duty. Our city should pursue a Historic District in the name of the great Nancy Cataldi and her tireless efforts, and on the basis of Richmond Hill's outstanding architectural and cultural history. 
How You Can Help
*** To advocate for the preservation of Richmond Hill and learn more about its influential history, please visit the website of the Richmond Hill Historical Society. Their mission is Preserving the past & promoting the future of Richmond Hill, NY: http://www.richmondhillhistory.org

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