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Letter: Brinckerhoff Cemetery Should Be Landmarked

The historic cemetery dates back to the 1600's, and served Dutch colonists.

The following letter was submitted by Bayside Historical Society President Paul Paul DiBenedetto, to the Chair of the NYC Landmarks and Preservation Commission, Robert Tierney, and shared with Patch for publication:

Dear Chair Tierney,

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Bayside Historical Society, I’m writing you today to express our passionate desire that the Landmarks Preservation Commission immediately designate the historic Brinckerhoff Cemetery in Fresh Meadows, Queens, NY as an official NYC landmark. This cemetery should have been landmarked long ago. It is a final resting place to scores of early Dutch colonials, with some burials dating back to the 1600’s. It is a rare historical artifact and precious to the integrity of our community.

The current attempt to de-calendar the Brinckerhoff Cemetery and develop two homes on the property is an absolute disgrace. To desecrate the well-documented graves of those who are interred there is an abomination of all that is good and decent. Civic groups and leaders from around the area and the Borough of Queens in general are up in arms and demanding action to have the site protected and preserved in perpetuity. It has been calendared for 12 years. Not only is it time to reject any attempts to de-calendar; it is also time to commit to grant full landmark status.

The Bayside Historical Society occupies one of the most beautiful and iconic landmarks in all of NYC, the Officers’ Club at Fort Totten. We are also caretakers of the Lawrence Cemetery, which, like the Officers Club, is a NYC Landmark (1967). The Lawrence Cemetery had a similar mishap in its history. It was mistakenly claimed and subsequently sold by the City. Only through the diligent work of the Bayside civic community was this horrendous action reversed and the burial site of over one-hundred early residents of Bayside (including two NYC mayors) saved from desecration and destruction.

Similarly, the City should move to fix its mistake by purchasing the Brinckerhoff Cemetery property, which would be spearheaded through capital funding via local elected officials, and thus make sure it is protected for all time.

Very truly yours,

Paul DiBenedetto

President, Bayside Historical Society

208 Totten Ave, Fort Totten, Bayside, NY 11359

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