Wednesday, June 29, 2011

LIRR Destroys Forest Hills Trees on June 18th & Pledges To Alter More on July 5, 2011 - CALL TO ACTION!

 At the rate of the LIRR decimating mature, healthy, and stable trees in Forest Hills, which have not fallen since their planting a century ago, it may EXCEED the rate of the tornado's destruction upon our trees last September.

Ever wonder why some people go for the easy way out, and how some organizations which supposed to provide beneficial services to their communities turn their back? In this case, rather than pruning a tree to promote healthy growth, the Long Island Railroad figures just chop down our trees!

On the quiet Saturday morning of June 18th, the LIRR commissioned the ironically-titled Looks Great Services ("LI's Favorite Tree Care Co"), & rudely awakened the Forest Hills Gardens, decimating a healthy, historic Oak tree that was a monumental pillar for 100+ years. This came with just a couple of days prior notice, and after Congressman Weiner's resignation, since it was Congressman Weiner who worked with residents to try curbing the LIRR's approach. This follows in the footsteps of the countless trees the LIRR decimated in 2007. All that now remains is a massive stump, which is apparently not leaning towards the tracks, and is believed to be a lame excuse by the LIRR.

True that the trees are owned by the LIRR, but the larger picture is their membership in the natural environment, and by the people who admire their historic beauty and realize their means of purifying air and buffering noise from accelerating trains.

In the past, the LIRR said they would prune our trees, but instead chopped them down. Let's hope history won't repeat itself on July 5, 2011 between Ascan Ave & Station Square, when a LIRR-commissioned company returns to assess those century-old, graceful trees. After the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance & Rego-Forest Preservation Council led a highly successful Tree Giveaway Event in MacDonald Park on June 12th, in response to the Sept 16th tornado, the LIRR evidently defeated the purpose.

We The People urgently request a meeting and a public hearing from the LIRR, and want the LIRR and its commissioned companies to further halt tree destruction. New trees must be planted in place of those that prematurely perished, although there is no replacement for a mature tree. Our politicians need to join us in this movement.

- Michael Perlman, Chair of Rego-Forest Preservation Council


1. Councilmember Karen Koslowitz: (718) 544-8800,,
2. The office of former Congressman Weiner: (718) 520-9001,
3. Borough President Helen Marshall: (718) 286-3000,,,
4. Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi: (718) 263-5595,,
5. Senator Toby A. Stavisky: (718) 445-0004,
6. Public Advocate Bill deBlasio: (212) 669-7200,,
7. Community Board 6, District Manager Frank Gulluscio: (718) 263-9250,
8. Forest Hills Gardens Corporation: (718) 268-2420,
9. Carbon copy all letters with an update on phone calls: 

This is a letter sent to local newspapers prior to the June 18th tree chopping, which was also sent to this blog:
To The Editor:
In the aftermath of the Anthony Weiner controversy, his constituents are left without their David to battle the LIRR goliath. I learned from a work crew yesterday morning that the LIRR would be coming this Saturday to cut down yet another 100-year-old hardwood tree on their property adjacent to Forest Hills Station Square and across from the Tennis View Apartments.

After they clear cut most of the area back in 2007 and repeated efforts to have them replant the area were made, we are still left with an embankment denuded and not one inch of progress with any plan to restore the area.

Congressman Weiner had championed the cause on our behalf and was instrumental in getting the LIRR to use more discretion in the blowing of train horns as the trains passed through Forest Hills station. His office had been working to secure funding to rebuild the wall that the LIRR removed and replant the trees they cut down.

But it seems that in the power vacuum created by the scandal, the LIRR after four years has decided with only three days notice to the community that they are cutting down another old growth hardwood tree that towers above the surrounding neighborhood, providing shade to the street and buildings and a pleasant vista to the eye.

In related stories, the LIRR planted evergreens to replace the trees they removed around a Flushing station and Metro North after clear cutting along their branches in northern Queens agreed to pay $460,000 to replant those areas. So why is the LIRR so reticent to agree to make good on a promise to replant here in Forest Hills?

It seems strangely ironic that there is an encampment of media one block away waiting to pounce on the Congressman should he appear but a real human interest story that shows why his constituents are not overwhelmingly in favor of his resignation unfolds down the block and within ear shot of the chainsaws to come.

Russ Gundlach,
Forest Hills

PRESS COVERAGE - Response to the June 18th travesty

1. Forum West, Forest Hills Residents Slam LIRR For Tree Removal, June 23, 2011
2. Forest Hills Times/Queens Ledger series, Forest Hills Residents Still Frustrated With LIRR Actions, June 22, 2011
3. Forest Hills Patch, Residents Decry Loss of Century-Old Oak on LIRR Embankment, June 21, 2011

PRESS COVERAGE - In anticipation of LIRR's claimed "tree-trimming" on July 5, 2011

1. Forest Hills Patch, Gardens Residents Push LIRR To Restore Embankment Treeline, June 29, 2011

"Colonial Revival: Then & Now" lecture & discussion at the Museum of the City of New York, July 19 at 6:30 PM AND "American Style: Colonial Revival and the Modern Metropolis" exhibition though Nov 6, 2011

Howard Johnson’s Restaurant, Queens Boulevard, Rego Park, New York. Joseph G. Morgan, with New York World’s Fair of 1939-40 Beyond.  Courtesy of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

 Emerging more than a century ago, Colonial Revival architecture continues to influence present-day architecture and design. Join leading New York City architects Gil Schafer and Peter Pennoyer for an illustrated lecture and discussion as they explore historic examples of the Colonial Revival style and the lessons to be learned from them today. Mr. Schafer’s work is featured in the exhibition The American Style: Colonial Revival and the Modern Metropolis, which was designed by Peter Pennoyer Architects. Click here to read a 6/14/11 exhibition review by the NY Times, titled National Design That's Hidden In Plan Sight. 

"Colonial Revival: Then and Now" will take place on Tuesday, July 19th at 6:30 PM
Reservations required: (917) 492-3395 or e-mail
 $6 museum members; $8 seniors and students; $12 non-members
$6 when you mention the Rego-Forest Preservation Council
To qualify for the RFPC discount, please e-mail Michael Perlman at 

 It is important to note that the American Style exhibition runs from June 14 - Nov 6, 2011, but Colonial Revival Then & Now lecture and discussion will only take place on July 19 at 6:30 PM.

Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street
New York, NY 10029 
(212) 534-1672

Howard Johnson’s Restaurant, Northern Boulevard, Queens, New York, 1939.  Photograph by the Wurts Brothers Company.  Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York.
American Style exhibition, Courtesy of Museum of the City of New York

Residential Revivalism: Anne Morgan House, Sutton Place between E 57th & 58th Sts, Manhattan, Photo by Berenice Abbott, Courtesy of Museum of the City of New York

American Style exhibition, Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

American Style exhibition, 116 East 55th St, NYC, Photo by Wurts Bros, NY, Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Daniel Eldridge House Landmarking Testimony By Queens Preservation Council

Daniel Eldridge House, Photo by Landmarks Preservation Commission
 As a board member of Queens Preservation Council, I represent Rego-Forest Preservation Council. We endorse the below testimony by QPC Chair Mitchell Grubler. We urge the Landmarks Preservation Commission to landmark the circa 1867 Daniel Eldridge House, 87-61 111th St, a rare survivor in Richmond Hill and for Queens at large, and we are grateful for the June 28, 2011 public hearing:

      As Chairman, I am speaking today on behalf of the Queens Preservation Council, a consortium of historical societies, civic and neighborhood groups that advocate for the protection and preservation of traditional neighborhood character.

The Queens Preservation Council is pleased to see the Landmarks Preservation Commission considering a house in Richmond Hill, one of Queens' most historical communities, yet sorely lacking in Landmark protections. Although the community boasts many historical houses of significance, the Daniel Eldridge House is an extremely rare surviving example of the mid-19th century Italianate style. In addition to its scale and form, the four ornate bracketed oriel windows, bracketed door hood and low-pitched roof with prominent cupola together make it architecturally impressive.

Daniel Eldridge of the infamous Tweed Ring, purchased the land from Charles Paulson for $600 in 1867, and had the 40' by 60' house built. A clerk in the Water Department, he was arrested on the property and charged with embezzlement. The story goes that after the hearing, the police were on their way to arrest him, and with no place left to hide, he simply sat up in the cupola and watched with binoculars as they came to arrest him.

The Queens Preservation Council, in memory of the indefatigable champion of Richmond Hill, Nancy Cataldi, urges the Landmarks Preservation Commission to continue to focus its attention on this historical community, and do more designations in the near future.

- Testimony delivered by Mitchell Grubler, Chair of Queens Preservation Council on June 28, 2011. Endorsed by Rego-Forest Preservation Council & posted online by RFPC Chair Michael Perlman.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Joseph B. Hellmann Park Would Honor A Community Leader & Friend

This is a letter to CB 11's District Manager Susan Seinfeld, in memory of Joseph Hellmann, a community leader and a dear friend to many. Since this letter, CB 11 has voted on June 6th to rename parkland, Joseph B. Hellmann Park. Susan Seinfeld has told the Times Ledger "The plan was approved and awaits funding." Final approval is needed from the Parks Dept. This letter has since been published in the Queens Chronicle:

May 30, 2011

Dear Ms. Seinfeld & Community Board 11 Colleagues,

I am writing on behalf of Rego-Forest Preservation Council, which advocates for historic preservation and commemorates the history of Rego Park and Forest Hills, while acknowledging and safeguarding the greater picture of Queens. We strongly endorse a proposal to name the parkland at 243rd Street and Douglaston Parkway in honor of our dear friend, Joseph Hellmann. Joseph was persistent in his fight to defeat a proposed apartment house, which would have occupied the lot on Douglaston Parkway, and was victorious in achieving his vision of having the site transformed into parkland. In a city that has been increasingly overdeveloped in recent years, this was one of Joseph’s many gifts to society. Imagine how fitting it will be for park-goers, passersby, and many of his friends, as well as future generations, to step into parkland commemorating his legacy.

On May 28, 2010, we were shocked and saddened to hear about his passing. He was a friend of my colleagues and I, and a friend of all of Queens. He will always be remembered as a very caring, amiable, intelligent, and creative individual. Joseph Hellmann was a well-respected and accomplished member of the Queens Preservation Council, the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance, a trustee of the Queens Historical Society, historian of the Douglaston-Little Neck Historical Society, a member of Community Board 11, and secretary of the Douglaston Civic Association. He was the recipient of the 2004 Van Zandt Award for community service. For three decades, he was an environmental engineer for the private sector.

I have known Joseph since I began attending Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance meetings in spring 2006 (today I am the Queens VP). At the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance and Queens Preservation Council meetings we attended together, I admired how he advocated for historic preservation; always searching for wise solutions to assist his colleagues and friends, and never abandoning hope in assisting our communities when facing some ruthless developers. He was the type of person you can truly talk to; a good listener and advice-giver.

In 2010, he continued doing what he loved, despite his brave battle with cancer and a hip fracture. I always respected his dedication and optimism, and particularly when he attended his last meetings as his health declined. My time knowing him was rather short in comparison to many of my colleagues, but I am thankful for his imprint upon that period of time. It is important to be grateful for what we have. As we advocate for preservation, we are strengthened through his memory and teachings. May we always cherish a true friend who made a difference in our lives.   

We encourage CB 11 and all enthusiasts to preserve and build upon his legacy. Naming Old Oak Pond Addition in his memory would be an everlasting tribute. Thank you for your consideration!


Michael Perlman
Rego-Forest Preservation Council, Chair 

Monday, June 20, 2011

6/12/11 Tree Giveaway Is A Success - Greenery Restored Borough-Wide!

One week breezed right by, and Forest Hills, Rego Park, and other communities in Queens and beyond, became a bit greener as a result of the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance Tree Giveaway Event on Sunday, June 12th from 1 PM - 3 PM, which included the members of Rego-Forest Preservation Council. It was a preservation event for the records!

Nearly 150 people, including homeowners, property managers, and supers, lined up in historic MacDonald Park on 70th Ave & Queens Blvd (circle), and the spirit of Gerald MacDonald, which prevails in the park's centerpiece statue, took great pride in the enthusiasm of tree adoptees. The earliest adoptees began lining up around 10 AM, hoping for their first chance of adopting either a Blackgum tree or 1 of 2 varieties of Cherry, by completing a tree adoption agreement. In total, 100 trees were donated, but many people had to be wait-listed for a potential future 4BNPA tree giveaway event. The trees were approximately 7 - 8 ft, were potted, and weighed 30 lbs. All trees have since been planted on private property.

Michael Perlman, Chairman of Rego-Forest Preservation Council & Queens VP of the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance began coordinating the event shortly after last September's tornado, by sending a proposal to the NY Restoration Project. Volunteers from 4BNPA and Rego-Forest Preservation Council joined forces. Forest Hills Jewish Center was the holding site for the trees prior to the event, and Key Food loaned load luggers to help transfer trees to MacDonald Park.

Steve Goodman, a board member of Rego-Forest Preservation Council, designed and presented certificates to tree adoptees, naming each tree on the basis of local "landmarks," notable residents, and historic street names. Tree names included the Trylon Theater, Hollywood Lanes, Roman (Roman Ave which is now 72nd Ave), Colonial (Colonial Ave, now 110th St), Helen Keller, Fred Silverman, Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage, etc.

Students of the Queens Community House Beacon Program designed a canvas depicting 2 varieties of Cherry tree. They also incorporated a poem on their reaction to the tornado, and how they felt after planting trees to restore MacDonald Park at the April 9th volunteer tree planting event, One Thing That's Green.

Michael Perlman explains, "It was inspirational to see the smiles on the faces of tree adoptees, and restore our historic tree canopy, especially since the 9/16/10 macroburst accounted for an approximate 3,113 fallen trees in Queens alone, while affecting sections of Brooklyn and Staten Island. Hopefully, no more mature trees will be cut down, and hopefully, there will be no more tornadoes. We owe gratitude to all who volunteered, and to those who adopted trees! Our organization has already began visualizing a future tree giveaway event, so stay tuned."

The tree giveaway event was made possible by the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance in partnership with New York Restoration Project and MillionTreesNYC (MTNYC), and through the generous support of Put Down Roots tree giveaway sponsor JetBlue, and MTNYC lead sponsors BNP Paribas and Toyota.

A trailer from a VA nursery arrives at 8 AM on June 10th to deliver 100 trees.
Volunteers recruited by Michael Perlman committed to a labor of love, by transporting the trees into a holding area, 2 days prior to the event.

Assembly line of Cherry & Blackgum trees in their holding area.

Moving trees from the holding area into MacDonald Park on 6/12

The trees take center stage, in preparation for the adoptees.
Some of the early risers, eager to paint our community green!

Some of the tree adoptees!

QCH Beacon Program students design a creative & touching mural capturing the theme of the tornado's fury & how they felt restoring MacDonald Park on 4/9, & volunteering on 6/12. Let's take inspiration from our young.
Planting a heart
Michael Perlman poses with the Beacon Program
NY Restoration Project
Harmony of Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance & Rego-Forest Preservation Council
Some of the members of Rego-Forest Preservation Council & 4BNPA
A local JHS student lends a helping hand.
May our trees prosper! Photo by David Kramer


Our Flickr photoset features our preparation for the event, the faces behind volunteers &  tree adoptees posing with their trees, and some trees which have since been planted: 


1. NY1 News & Forest Hills Patch coverage from the event:

2. Times Ledger, Forum West, & Forest Hills Patch coverage preceding the event:

3. Our 5/22 press release featuring the event flyer, before & after tornado photos and a personal account, and more background information leading up to the event:


1. Please send any tree planting photos to for inclusion in the flickr photoset, & credit will be granted.

2. If you are interested in being added to our mailing list for a future tree giveaway event, please e-mail us as well.