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Ridgewood community members will hold panel to talk about its future

Photo courtesy of the Landmark Preservation Commission

Ridgewood is changing, but the historic stability of the neighborhood makes it different from most communities in the city that are gentrifying, said Henry Cross, a Ridgewood resident and community activist.

It has been a long-debated topic with many articles and publications talking about the new look of the small neighborhood in southwest Queens, but residents don’t want to be grouped in with New York neighborhoods known for rising rents and new restaurants, bars and shops popping up around the area.

Cross, along with other community stakeholders, will hold a panel discussion on Feb. 4 to talk about some recent issues.

“I feel that this discussion will be a step in the right direction to specifically address community topics,” Cross said. “I absolutely see change and this discussion is going to focus on where the neighborhood was, where it is and where it is going.”

Cross has lived in the neighborhood for six years and said the reason Ridgewood is different from the neighborhoods across the border in Brooklyn, which it is usually compared to, is because of its history. He said there is a very stable environment in Ridgewood even with the recent change because the people who have recently moved in respect the preservation of its history.

He backed this up by talking about how another section of the neighborhood, Central Ridgewood, was recently designated as a  historic district by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, joining Ridgewood North, Ridgewood South and the  Stockholm Street historic districts.

“There is valued work that has been done by people in the neighborhood,” Cross said. When asked whether he thinks the recent change in the neighborhood will weaken its fabric, he replied, “Those without the means of change are without the means of preservation.”

The panel discussion will take place at Topos Bookstore Café, located on 788 Woodward Ave., from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Cross has chosen three people to address the preservation of the neighborhood, two people to discuss what can be discovered about the neighborhood and one person to talk about redefining the neighborhood.

“I want to discuss what needs to be preserved in the neighborhood, what people can discover and what people could say about how the neighborhood has been,” Cross said. “We have to figure out how we could continue to shape it for the next generations.”

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