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 

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