The Bayside Historical Society has been forced to put several restoration projects on hold, including the installment of an elevator, due to funding cuts on the city and state level, the group’s president said.
President Paul DiBenedetto said a project to add the elevator, which would transport seniors and the handicapped to the second floor of the society’s Officer’s Club, is currently without funding.
“The elevator was part of a funding promise from the borough president’s office and the Parks Department,” DiBenedetto said. “But when budget cuts came around, it was taken out of the budget. We have this grand old building that we’d like to make more accessible to the public.”
The historical society’s current building, which is located in Fort Totten, hosts a number of annual events, including weddings, fundraisers, art shows and lectures.
“Seniors and handicapped people can’t get up to the second floor unless we carry them,” DiBenedetto said. “We need to get this elevator. It’s a landmarked building, so it should pass review. We just need to get funding in place.”
The society is also attempting to obtain funding for several other projects at its site, including an upgrade for a front portico that is sagging as well as climate controls in the group’s archives and exhibition space.
DiBenedetto said the group was previously allocated $135,000 per year from the state, but is now operating with no government funding.
The society has submitted paperwork to state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, D-Bayside, to attempt to get capital funding for its projects.
“We’re just working on our day to day to keep in operation,” DiBenedetto said. “We’re understaffed and our board has taken on a lot of the workload. The money may never come back from the state. We might have to redefine our mission because we can’t continue on this path.”