By Kathianne Boniello
Little Neck environmentalist Virginia Dent was named president of the Bayside Historical Society in March.
Dent, a longtime northeast Queens activist known for her work to save Udalls Cove, a wetlands preserve in Little Neck and Douglaston, has been a member of the Bayside Historical Society for about three years.
“I was certainly pleased to be selected as president,” Dent said. “I think my goal, like everyone else, is to support the board to continue its dedication to historic preservation and to continue the educational aspect of its work.”
The March 21 installation of officers also included making Geraldine Spinella, longtime president of the group, the official executive director.
The Bayside Historical Society was founded 35 years ago to preserve the history of Bayside and is headquartered at the Officer’s Club at Fort Totten in Bayside. The group has spent the last several years restoring the Officer’s Club, which they said is the only example of its style of gothic revival crenellated architecture in New York. The building features a red brick exterior with white trim and turrets near the top, giving it the appearance of a castle.
Dent, who grew up in Astoria, lived in Bayside for 13 years, moved to a house on the water in Udalls Cove, where she lived for 23 years, and has spent the last 12 years living with her husband Thomas in the Westmoreland section of Little Neck.
For about 15 years from the 1970s through the 1980s, Dent served as executive director of the State Northeast Queens Nature and Historical Preserve Commission before retiring in 1990.
She currently serves on the boards of six organizations, including the City Soil and Water Conservation Board as vice chairwoman, the Fort Totten Coast Guard Restoration Advisory Board, the Women’s Inter-Club Council, the Rotary Club of Flushing, the Bayside Historical Society and Queens Public Television.
Spinella said the Bayside Historical Society has had a somewhat difficult time finding its niche.
“We’re not just history,” she said. “We’re arts and culture and history. We’re a mixture of everything.”
Dent said one of her primary goals would be to increase public support for the Bayside Historical Society and to fund-raise.
“We have to raise money, we have to raise public consciousness,” she said. “We need that support.”
One of the main reasons for stepping up the group’s fund-raising, Dent said, is to be able to pay the historical society’s part-time staffers.
“You can’t have a building without somebody in it,” she said. “We have to raise money to support our staff.”
Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.