By Howard Koplowitz
Douglaston’s monument to memorialize its residents who died in World War I has been neglected for 20 years and no city agency has come forward to claim that it is the overseer of the historic marker, City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) and a civic leader said Friday.
“No one wants to take the responsibility for the upkeep of this particular monument,” Halloran said, noting he contacted three city departments — Parks, Transportation and Citywide Administrative Services, which manages 54 public buildings — but none of them have said they are the agency in charge of maintaining the structure.
Halloran said Parks was the only one to give him an answer while the DOT told him it needs 90 days to “investigate” whether the monument falls under its jurisdiction.
“A monument like this … deserves better,” Halloran said.
More than 60 Douglaston residents died in World War I and their names were etched into the monument that sits near the Long Island Rail Road station next to 41st Avenue and 235th Street.
Marie Marsina, vice president of the Douglaston Civic Association, said the monument is nearing its 100th anniversary and is in need of an upgrade.
“It would be wonderful to have this plaque completely refurbished,” she said, noting her civic group alerted Halloran to the problem of finding the city agency assigned to caring for the monument.
Halloran pointed out that the monument is part of the Douglaston Historic District and a weeping beech tree near the stone structure is in shambles.
“This is part of a very historic area,” he said.
Halloran said the monument needs to be power washed and possibly polished, and that kind of maintenance can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The councilman said there are no records of a cleanup of the monument in the past 20 years.
Even if a private organization or a company in conjunction with a civic organization wants to spruce up the monument, it would need to know which agency is responsible before going through with the cleaning.
“In order to even have a cleanup, we need permission and we need permission from the relevant city agency,” Halloran said.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4573.