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Little Neck’s Ridgeway takes activism to Ulster

By John Tozzi

Ridgeway, 58, who led the Westmoreland Civic Association for 15 years, has continued his civic involvement in Clintondale, N.Y., a village in the Hudson Valley 95 miles north of Little Neck. Along with his wife Lynne, Ridgeway continues his activism with environmental, historical and governmental groups upstate. He even ran, unsuccessfully, for a seat on the Ulster County Legislature in 2003, his first bid for office.”I was unsuccessful in that election and I have not tried again since,” Ridgeway said in a recent phone interview. He noted that while in Queens, he supported many of the candidates who became power brokers in the borough, including Borough President Helen Marshall and her predecessor, Claire Shulman.Ridgeway and his wife bought their 1850s farmhouse in Clintondale in 1992, but they did not start living there full time until 2002, when he retired after 33 years with the city Department of Environmental Protection and before that the Department of Public Works.”With long-range planning I retired just immediately after the first moment of my eligibility,” he said, during a buyout early in the Bloomberg administration.Always an environmentalist, Ridgeway is now in a more bucolic setting than Queens: “It's commonplace for us to look out the dining room window or the kitchen window and see deer,” he said. “We saw six of them this morning.”The Ridgeways are now on the board of the New York State Bluebird Society, a group dedicated to restoring bluebird habitats, and helped to recruit Bayside's Aline Euler as Queens County coordinator of the society. In addition, Lynne Ridgeway is an officer of the local chapter of the Sierra Club and the environmental group John Burroughs Society.The pair are also active in a variety of historical and genealogical groups, including the Sons of the Revolution. Jonathan Ridgeway returns every year for the Little-Neck Douglaston Memorial Day Parade as chairman of the Sons of the Revolution color guard.Most recently, he was appointed in January to the Zoning Board of Appeals for the town of Plattekill, N.Y. Similar to the city's Board of Standards and Appeals, the ZBA has jurisdiction over zoning and land use issues-an apt post for Ridgeway, a consistent advocate of lower-scale zoning.”I was actively participating in Claire Shulman's contextual zoning efforts back in the day,” he said.Ridgeway remains a member of the Douglaston Historical Society, and he has joined the group's Plattekill counterpart. Despite the rural atmosphere of his new home, nestled among apple orchards, Ridgeway said some things have not changed much from his Little Neck days.”We know a lot of people here and we knew a lot of people there, and that's quite a nice thing,” he said.Reach reporter John Tozzi by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext. 188.

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