Douglaston Leaders Unveil Plaque Honoring Late Activist Joseph Hellman

Site along Douglaston Parkway will eventually become an overlook with benches and a fence.

Northeast Queens leaders and the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation unveiled a on Wednesday to honor the late community activist for whom the site is named.

Hellman, who was a member of , of the overlook along Douglaston Parkway and 243rd Street.

“The more we hear about Joe, the more fitting we find it to dedicate this parcel to him,” said Dorothy Lewandowski, the Parks Department’s commissioner for Queens.

Lewandowski said the city would pay for the costs of upgrading the sidewalk and adding in benches at the one-acre overlook.

“People in northeast Queens value their land more than anyone else in the city of New York,” said Jerry Iannece, CB 11’s chairman. “So, when we bestow someone’s name on our terra firma, it’s the highest honor.”

Hellman, who died at age 70 in May 2010, was not only vigilant in combating the developer who wanted to construct a large apartment building at the site, but also pushed for creating a park known as Old Oak Pond at the site.

“Everyone thought he was crazy, but we need more crazy people like that,” Iannece said. “It’s a fitting tribute that we are dedicating this piece of property to him.”

Former state Sen. Frank Padavan said Ford Motor Company had previously wanted to build a service center and garage at the site.

The project to create the overlook is not yet completely funded and will not likely be completed until next year, CB 11 District Manager Susan Seinfeld said.

It will include a fence, split wood railing and benches bearing Hellman’s name. Iannece said the estimated cost for the overlook is several thousand dollars.

“This would mean a great deal to him,” said Joan Hellman, the late activist’s wife, who helped unveil the plaque. “This is a joyous event.”


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