Friday, June 6, 2014

Michael Perlman Receives 2014 Grassroots Preservation Award by the Historic Districts Council

For those who missed my speech at the Historic District Council's 2014 Grassroots Preservation Awards (or wish to relive it), you can view the video clip. Preservationist Jeffrey Kroessler spoke with much grace and spirit, and presented my award at the time slot of 9:45. The text of my speech is below:

Good Evening, Everyone,  As a 31 year-old native Forest Hills resident and Chairman of Rego-Forest Preservation Council, I feel honored to receive the 2014 Grassroots Preservation Award. I am also encouraged to become an even stronger historic preservationist of Forest Hills and Rego Park, among other neighborhoods.

I founded Rego-Forest Preservation Council in 2006, in response to the 100th anniversary of Forest Hills, and the parcel which became known as Rego Park in 1923.  Landmark-worthy buildings and stretches of Forest Hills and Rego Park faced a growing number of insensitive alterations and demolition. We seek to preserve and commemorate our architectural and cultural history by advocating for Individual Landmarks, Interior Landmarks, and Historic Districts, as well as State & National Register of Historic Places sites, and by assisting property owners in the acquisition of funding to restore their properties. 

As a Forest Hills Times columnist since 2012, I take pride in featuring preservation, an often underrepresented topic in local media.  Preservation is my civic duty and religious calling.

1. I conducted a PR campaign and petition drive in 2010 in response to the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium’s potential sale for condos. This contributed to its iconic stadium’s partial restoration and creative reuse in 2013 as a concert venue.

2. I assisted Rego Park Jewish Center and the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown in the acquisition of National Register status. Presently, I am co-organizing concert fundraisers, to help restore the church.

3.  I founded Friends of TheRidgewood Theatre, and succeeded in obtaining Individual Landmark status.

4. I assisted in landmarking campaigns for Engine Company 305 / Hook & Ladder Company 151 in Forest Hills, as well as the Forest Park Carousel and the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District.

5.  Jay Dee Bakery in Forest Hills offered a great slice of Americana, but when it shuttered in 2009, I brokered a deal to have the huge neon sign salvaged.

6. I founded committees and brokered deals to spare the Moondance Diner in SoHo, and the Cheyenne Diner in Chelsea from demolition. Respectively, they were transported on flatbed trucks to Wyoming and Alabama. I then earned the nickname, “Diner Man.”
Forest Hills and Rego Park have numerous properties which fit the criteria for landmark status, but since 2005, the Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected properties for a public hearing. Despite an over 100-year history, current official landmarks are the Remsen Family Cemetery (designated in 1981), the Ridgewood Savings Bank facade (designated in 2000), and the Forest Hills firehouse facade (designated in 2012). 

I extend an invite to Mayor de Blasio and the Landmarks Preservation Commission to see Forest Hills and Rego Park from our perspective at a walking tour and meetings. Let’s work collaboratively on a city official to constituent basis, before experiencing any further architectural losses.

Extending much gratitude to the Historic Districts Council for this true honor!

Michael Perlman, Chairman of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council
Nadezhda Williams with Simeon Bankoff of the Historic Districts Council 
Preservationist Jeffrey Kroessler
Preservationists and friends of Rego-Forest Preservation Council

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