BY M. JUNAID ALAM
“Twenty years ago when we had a drive to create a district, these areas were part of the original plan,” said Kevin Wolfe, vice president of the civic, in reference to 35 buildings along Douglaston Parkway under consideration. “But the parts that were left out are just as important as the ones left in.”Four of the homes date from the mid-19th century and the rest were built from 1890 to 1930, Wolfe said.At one point, one of the homes was about to be demolished by the homeowner, a development noted in correspondence between Wolfe and Padavan. The homeowner, however, was persuaded to change his mind, the civic leader said.That scare aside, Wolfe said extending the landmarking district would be an overall plus for the community.”It's a terrific idea and we really hope people show up. It's a no-brainer,” he said.Pointing to over-development concerns that loom large in the Bayside and Douglaston area, Wolfe said official protection of the area's character, such as that provided by landmarking, was essential.”Just look around at the rest of the district, the problems with McMansions and so on,” he remarked.Wolfe also said Douglaston's existing landmarking has served the community well without serious hindrance of homeowners' freedom.”Those concerns would be completely unfounded because landmarking is completely apart from zoning,” said Wolfe, who noted that 10 new houses have been built in the already-landmarked areas. Property values, too, have risen in the past decade, allaying possible concerns about the effect on the market value of homes, he added.As for the homeowners of the 35 properties, Wolfe said the response from those he has talked to so far has been very positive. “Obviously, I have not been able to talk to everyone, but of the people we have talked to, most have been very receptive,” he said. “No one has come out against it.”Padavan, for his part, said he was glad consideration of the landmark extension was “off and running,” calling the preservation of historic homes a matter of “paramount importance.”The meeting is scheduled to take place on Feb. 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Fellowship Hall in The Community Church of Douglaston, located at 3950 Douglaston Parkway.Reach reporter M. Junaid Alam by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext 174.