By Madina Toure
Longtime northeast Queens community and civic leader Richard Hellenbrecht received the Senate Liberty Medal from state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) for his work in the area.
Hellenbrecht served as president of the Queens Civic Congress from 2011 to 2014, chairman of Community Board 13 from 2001 to 2008, president of the Bellerose Civic Association from 1984 to 2000 and is one of the founding members of the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Conservancy.
He has been serving as chairman of CB 13’s land use committee since 2008, secretary of the Bellerose Business District since 1995, an active board member of the conservancy and secretary-treasurer of the Bellerose Civic Association.
Avella, who has known Hellenbrecht for many years, said the leader has been serving the area for more than 40 years and commended his work in the community.
“You cannot put a price tag on what accomplishments he’s done,” he said during the ceremony Monday at his district office at 38-50 Bell Blvd. in Bayside.
In July, Avella announced the launch of his inaugural Liberty Medal Awards, which honors some of the most dedicated civic leaders throughout his district.
Liberty Medals are awarded as one of the highest civilian honors a senator can grant to a resident.
At the end of June, Avella named Hellenbrecht, Bayside community activists Frank Scala and Mandingo Tshaka and Flushing community leader Arlene Fleishman as medal recipients, but Hellenbrecht was unable to attend the initial ceremony on June 29.
Hellenbrecht, who attended the ceremony with his wife, Mary Ann, and their son, Harrison, said he it is an honor to receive the medal, noting that civic life is “full of many, many challenges,” and commended the other medal recipients.
“I feel honored and very happy to accept this medal,” he said.
And he has no intention of slowing down.
Although an appellate court recently ruled that the city would need state legislative approval to build the Willets West megamall as part of the $3 billion Willets Point Development Plan as it would take up parkland, Hellenbrecht and others say they are ready to fight if the city plans to appeal.
“We won a major part of the battle with the State Supreme Court and we hope that it doesn’t go to the appellate court,” he said.
And as secretary of the coordinating committee for the New York Airport Community Roundtable, he said that they hope to finish revising the bylaws by the end of the month on the airplane noise issue.
He is also working with others to fight an Administration for Children’s Services prison proposed by the city on 208th Street and Jamaica Avenue.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour