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Skala’s charge of elitism misguided about preserving boro neighborhood

I am fed up with Frank Skala making bogus statements just for the sake of hearing his own voice. Using a “shotgun approach” to criticize, he hits everyone and everything in sight as long as it is not about something he embraces. A recent series of rants is leveled at me as a trustee of the Douglaston⁄Little Neck Historical Society, and it proves how lacking his level of understanding is.

We have been working toward restoring the original and historically correct names of streets in and around the Douglaston Hill Historic District. Please note I use the term “restoring.” We are not seeking to change the names of any streets, as he has inaccurately stated. We want to restore the names those streets had before they were changed. This important distinction escapes Skala.

The manner in which he attacks us tells me he is not bright. He has called our desire to protect and preserve our historic legacy as “elitism” and those of us in favor of it “elitist.”

In fact, in the April 9 issue of the Little Neck Ledger (“CB 11 delays street name votes till May”), in which my comments on the subject to Community Board 11 are quoted on behalf of the historical society, he is quoted almost immediately after, calling us and our efforts “elitist.”

I take umbrage at being called elitist, just as I am sure he takes umbrage at being described as “not bright.” I am prepared to prove we are not elitist. I challenge him to prove he is bright enough to understand it.

How he can call historic preservation elitism escapes me. What part of loving the history of one’s community and working hard to preserve it has anything to do with elitism? Moreover, at a recent CB 11 meeting, one at which the board voted in favor of the restoration of the street names, he characterized our wish to preserve the rich history of this area as “greed.”

That, it seems to me, is a non−sequitur. I guess he thinks we are greedy for wanting to protect the historic legacy of our community and keep it intact for generations to come.

Currently, Skala is spearheading a fight to prevent the construction of a church in his neighborhood. I wonder if he would be so concerned if that proposed church was one of his own denomination. It is a Korean church. If Skala wants to use the term “elitist,” he might try it in connection with his opposition to that church. It would be more apropos.

The church is being built under the as−of−right laws passed in the city in 1961. I oppose those laws: They might have had their need almost a half−century ago, but they are outdated today. As much as I hate to admit it, I agree with Skala in that the community should have input regarding what is built in a neighborhood.

It goes to preservation of the community’s character, and there is that word again: preservation. Does it not seem hypocritical that Skala wants to preserve his own neighborhood, but considers it elitist when we want to preserve the history of ours?

Finally, since Douglaston’s streets had those names before any others in Queens, it might even be considered a question of entitlement. But Skala cannot see this and chooses to object to what he sees as the “elitism” and “greed” of people with enough pride and love for their community to want to preserve its history.

Stuart Hersh

Douglaston

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