Community Board 11 voted unanimously last night to rename a small section of parkland along the Douglaston Parkway after a neighborhood activist who fought to prevent the construction of a massive building at the site.
The board approved a motion to rename a small piece of property on the parkway at 243rd Street as Joseph B. Hellman Park after the late civic leader and CB 11 member.
“He was an avid activist who worked for the best interests of the community,” said Eliott Socci, president of the Douglaston Civic Association, of which Hellman was a member. “Mr. Hellman spent a great deal of time researching the history of issues in order to gain an edge for the benefit of the community.”
Hellman, who died in May 2010 at age 70, was also a member of Community Board 11 and the Douglaston Little Neck Historical Society.
Community leaders said Hellman, who was an environmental engineer in the private sector, single-handedly fought a proposal to construct a nine-story apartment building on a lot along Douglaston Parkway. Hellman wanted the site, which could now bear his name, to be turned into a park.
“We fought this complex,” said Bernard Haber, chairman of CB 11’s transportation committee. “But we thought the best thing we could do would be to get the lowest building possible. Hellman said nothing should be built on this property. Nobody believed it could be done.”
Hellman convinced the city’s Parks Department to make the entry into the half-acre park known as Old Oak Pond.
CB 11’s transportation and parks committees suggested that a sign should be placed at the site that reads, “His efforts helped ensure this park.”
“He worked tirelessly for restoration efforts throughout the community,” Board member Henry Euler said. “Nobody deserves this more than Joe.”
The community activist’s wife, Joan Hellman, told the board she was honored that the group unanimously supported renaming the park after her late husband.
“I’m so thankful,” she said. “Joe did so much in the community.”
The measure will next go before Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and the City Council for approval.