Letters to the Editor – June 2006 - JuniperCivic.com
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Originally published in the June 2006 Juniper Berry Magazine

Letters to the Editor – June 2006

To: Council Members Gallagher & Katz and Borough President

Marshall,

I am forwarding you a message I sent to the President of

Maspeth Federal Savings Bank regarding the site of St.

Savior's Church in Maspeth. Please read this message and

please take action to help save St. Savior's.

West Maspeth is without a park and the church could be

the centerpiece of a wonderful park. The history of the

early settlement of Maspeth (one of the first settlements

on Long Island, as I am sure you know) as well as the

history of the Maurice family and Governor DeWitt Clinton

could all be told in exhibits in the church structure,

while the surrounding property would be a much-needed

oasis of greenery in an industrial neighborhood.

West Maspeth provides many valuable industrial and

commercial services to the City and the region, yet its

residents get few of the amenities one finds in other

neighborhoods. It's about time the neighborhood got

something that made life more pleasant for its residents.

Please don't let a neighborhood landmark be demolished.

We have so few left in that area.

Thank you.

Richard Stark

Bloomfield, NJ

The following is a letter to Kenneth Rudzewick, President of Maspeth Federal Savings and Loan Association.

Subject: Please don't let Maspeth Development LLC

tear down St. Savior's Church

Dear Mr. Rudzewick,

I am writing to urge you to ensure that your bank

enforces all the rules in the mortgage agreement your

bank has with Maspeth Development, LLC for the property

currently occupied by St. Savior's Church. It is my

understanding that under the terms of the mortgage

Maspeth Federal Savings Bank must approve the demolition

of any structures on the property. It would be a

terrible loss to Maspeth if St. Savior's were demolished

and replaced with high-density housing.

If you are wondering why someone from New Jersey is

writing to you about this matter, the reason is that I

grew up on 54th Street in Maspeth in the 1960s and 1970s.

There were (and still are) very few green spaces in our

neighborhood. I played ball in the street and in the

schoolyard of P.S. 86 on 57th Street as a boy because

there were no nearby parks. The closest green spaces to

my house were Linden Hill Cemetery and St. Savior's

Church, and even though they were not parks where one

could play, they were a welcome respite from the concrete

of West Maspeth.

Just this week Newsday described the area around Page

Place and Maspeth Avenue as "desolate." Destroying one

of the only green spaces in the neighborhood would help

make that description accurate. I never thought of our

neighborhood as desolate when I was a boy. It was

industrial and it still is industrial and that was

nothing to be ashamed of. It could have done with a park

or two, but it was not a bad place. Those warehouses and

factories provided decent jobs for many people, including

many members of my family. But industrial neighborhoods

need parks too.

I attended St. Stan's, P.S. 153, and J.H.S. 73 and it

was from some of my classmates at 73 that I learned that

my neighborhood was on the "wrong side of the tracks"

from their point of view. I disagreed. Later, when I

attended Stuyvesant High School, my friends used to mock

Maspeth. I made a point of telling them that it was the

settlers on Newtown Creek who helped build New York long

before any Europeans settled in places like Forest Hills

or Riverdale. I also took people to see St. Savior's and

I noted how Governor Clinton, the father of the Erie

Canal, lived nearby. In short, I bored my friends, but

they were an understanding bunch.

My family's roots in Maspeth run deep. My grandfather,

Harold Lohmuller, grew up on Flushing Avenue a block from

where I grew up. My mother grew up on Flushing Avenue

too, as did many of her cousins. My sister and her

family still live in Maspeth, as do some of my cousins.

My brother-in-law teaches at 73. My cousin Florence

Kuczmarski worked at Maspeth Federal for many years

(please note that I speak for myself in this message; I

note my cousin only to indicate the attachments I have to

Maspeth).

My first bank account was opened at Maspeth Federal in

1969 through a program at St. Stan's. I kept an account

there until the late 1980s. My sister still has an

account there. I have fond recollections of playing on

the trolley at Maspeth Federal and attending summer

concerts in the bank's parking lot. Please don't let

Maspeth Federal become an instrument of the destruction

of a local landmark.

Western Queens lost Niederstein's Restaurant not very

long ago. We are obliterating our history when we

destroy the few remaining historical structures in our

communities. I remember the effort to preserve the

Onderdonk House. It also lies in a "desolate"

neighborhood, but it was saved because of the community's

efforts. Can't St. Savior's be preserved? It survived

that terrible fire in 1970 (which I remember well). West

Maspeth needs a park; the church building could be the

centerpiece of a beautiful park.

Please use your power to help save this place for the

community.

Richard Stark

Bloomfield, New Jersey

Dear Elected Official: Re: Please Save the St. Saviors Church Property

Please help the residents of Maspeth. We are losing our community to overdevelopment. I am starting to dislike the place in which I live. We are losing the pride we once held for our Maspeth community.

Please stop the rape of our neighborhood. Please stop the tearing down of St. Savior's Church on Rust and 57th Streets.

Does every lot of land need to be filled up with ugly multi-family dwellings?

St. Saviors is imminently scheduled to be torn down and the woods razed to make way for 35 to 40 3-family houses which will no doubt be of cheap, utilitarian construction with exposed air conditioners and water meters.

This City is going to spend $1 billion for two baseball stadiums that the average New Yorker won't even be able to afford to go to! Millionaire ball players and owners get new parks, why can't we have some original grass and trees?

Can we not have the city buy the St. Saviors property just to make a park in our neighborhood that the people of Maspeth can walk to and enjoy and be proud of while preserving our history in this town? We are not even asking for a playground to be built there, just some benches and some grass.

Is everything about greed and profit? Please save the St. Saviors Church property!

The structure and property is rich in history and of significance to the community.

St. Savior's Church was built in 1847 on Rust Street and 57th Drive in Maspeth and is surrounded by the remnants of a large undeveloped tract known as the Maurice Woods after a prominent colonial-era Queens's family.

Please Save the St. Saviors Church Property!

Sincerely yours,

Joseph Saroli

Maspeth

Dear Editor:

I write this in response to Terri Sullivan's letter in the March/April Berry. I agree with Ms. Sullivan that a dog run somewhere (possibly near the L. I. E.) might be workable. However I believe a dog run in the East end of Juniper Park is not workable for the following:

1. It would lower the quality of life of a horticultural Mecca in which the beautifully planted Pullis Colonial Cemetery is the centerpiece. Dog runs do not have a good track record for cleanliness.

2. The East end is in close proximity to a Jewish house of worship, a Lutheran church, and a public school—all heavy users of the East end of the park.

3. Perhaps most importantly—the East end was intended as a commons for use by all—not a special few.

Say no to an east end dog run. Don't let the tail wag the dog.

Sincerely,

John A. Roberts

Middle Village

The President of the Middle Village Property Owners Association, Michael Roemmelt, sent the following letter to NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe -

Dear Commissioner Benepe:

With recent reports of the severe attack on a four-year-old youngster on Long Island by three dogs, it seems urgent that you reconsider your policy of permitting dogs to be walked in our parks without a leash between 9pm and 9am. Department Commissioners should not be permitted to ignore City statutes just because they disagree with the law. If you believe the leash law is unjust, then you should lobby the City Council to have the restriction reversed.

Juniper Valley Park in Queens is a particularly dangerous area for this no leash policy. Each day there are numerous children on their way to the elementary school nearby on Eliot Avenue and the Day Care Center on Lutheran Avenue. In addition many residents walk through the park each morning on their way to express bus stops on Eliot Avenue and 80th Street.

We look forward to your re-evaluation of the no-leash policy before another serious dog attack is experienced.

Respectfully,

Michael Roemmelt, President

cc: Mayor M. Bloomberg, Queens Parks Commissioner D. Lewandowski, Councilman D. Gallagher, Robert Holden, JPCA