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CB 11 to unveil symbolic plaque for late activist

TimesLedger Newspapers

A dedication ceremony has been planned to honor late Douglaston activist Joseph Hellmann at a local piece of property, Community Board 11 said last week.

The community will celebrate the Joseph Hellmann overlook Aug. 15 with a plaque honoring the late community board member at Douglaston Parkway and 243rd Street at 1 p.m., the CB 11 said. The plaque will be the precursor to an overlook being built on the property in honor of Hellmann, 70, who fought adamantly for a walkway through the park so residents could enjoy the scenic view.

“I am looking forward to having the signs up and the area cleared out,” said Joan Hellmann, the late community leader’s wife. “I know he wanted a path there so people could enjoy the view and enjoy sitting and look at the water.”

Hellmann, who died in 2010, was a key proponent in fighting to turn the lot on Douglaston Parkway into a park and rallied the community against a potential apartment building being built in its place. Hellmann, who served on the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee, CB 11 and the Douglaston-Little Neck Historical Society, became known as an active fighter for scenic Douglaston.

He also advocated for Douglaston Hills to become a historic district and founded the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance.

“It is a good thing for everyone in the area. There are a lot of people in the immediate area who are environmentally oriented,” said Eliott Socci, the Douglaston Civic Association president. “It is a good spot with a beautiful view, that’s for sure.”

CB 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece said Hellmann led the charge in resisting the new development even when the rest of the community thought it was not possible.

“His heart was in the right place. He was an environmentalist,” Iannece said. “He was instrumental in getting that park together and he just kept on fighting. He was all the things a good civic activist is supposed to be.”

Iannece said a sign with Hellmann’s name will be presented along with a rendering of the several thousand-dollar overlook to follow some weeks later, complete with benches, a fence and wooden railing. The entire project has not been fully funded, CB 11 said.

The original plan, introduced last June, was to name the area Joseph B. Hellmann Park, but push back from the city Parks Department resulted in the overlook as a compromise, Iannece said. He said he hoped the overlook would be completed by spring 2013.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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