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Minutes of the General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Association
May 17, 2004
The meeting was called to order at 8:05 p.m. by President Walter Mugdan. A
motion was made and seconded to waive the reading of the minutes from the March
meeting. Treasurer Frank Keenan gave the Treasurer’s Report, indicating a
balance on hand of $18,486.53 as of May 17th. A motion was made to accept the
Treasurer’s Report, the motion was seconded, and the report was unanimously
One item of old business was discussed briefly. Mr. Mugdan advised that the current license to operate a base station taxi service held by Ollie’s Taxi Service at the Little Neck branch of the Long Island Railroad expires at the end of May, and that he had once again written letters reiterating the Westmoreland Association’s opposition to the operation of such a service in a predominantly residential area.
Mr. Mugdan reported on a vandalism incident that occurred in Admiral Park and resulted in the need for the replacement of a lock and chain. A motion was made to reimburse Charles Manna with respect to his expenditures in this regard and the motion was seconded and approved.
Next on the agenda was the introduction of our guest speaker for the evening, Mr. Kevin Wolfe, a local architect and co-founder of the Little Neck/Douglaston Historical Society, who had agreed to address the group on the subject of landmarking and historical district designation. Mr. Wolfe presented a slide show as an accompaniment to his commentary that proved to be both educational and enjoyable. He began with a historical perspective advising that the Westmoreland area started as a farm before its development into a “garden suburb” by the The Rickert-Finlay Building Company whose aim was to have reserved, simple, unpretentious homes sharing a green and open space. Trees were important to the Company’s residential philosophy and both Westmoreland and Douglas Manor have a legacy of great trees with the streets bending and weaving to match the topography. An eclectic architectural movement prevailed during the 1920’s and 1930’s according to Mr. Wolfe that resulted in the construction of many different styles of homes in the area. The original premise of the “garden suburb” included a concern for the greater good of the neighborhood with respect to construction and renovation issues – there was a strong sense of a visual community back then, according to Mr. Wolfe which, unfortunately is not always apparent today. He proceeded to show the members slides of many simple, elegant homes in Douglas Manor (many of which had undergone extensive renovations) in order to underscore the importance of retaining the character of a neighborhood and to reiterate that landmarking is the most effective way to insure that unwanted development does not occur.
In response to Mr. Mugdan’s question as to the practicalities involved in obtaining landmark designation, Mr. Wolfe advised that it is neither an easy nor a casual process. A strong, solid, enthusiastic group is needed to convey the message that “neighborhoods can heal themselves.” People in the area need to get excited about the special nature of their area and commit time and effort to retaining the uniqueness of the community. There are also financial considerations involved and contributions from interested homeowners would be needed. The biggest hurdle initially would be to convince the Landmark Commission that the neighborhood has not already been badly impaired.
An advantage to landmarking is that property values generally rise in an area so designated while a disadvantage is the increase in bureaucratic involvement in renovation and alteration issues. Mr. Wolfe ended his presentation by stating that if the Westmoreland Association wishes to pursue the subject, there would be people from Douglas Manor who would be willing to help with the process
Mr. Mugdan concluded the meeting by thanking Mr. Wolfe for his time and effort in educating the group and advised that the matter would be a subject for discussion again at the September meeting. He asked the members to talk to people in Douglas Manor who have first-hand experience in the matter and to request their input on the time and trouble, if any, involved in making changes to homes in landmarked areas.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:50 p.m.
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