BY BROOKE SMITH
Paul DiBenedetto was born in the Suffolk County suburban town of East Setauket, Long Island. He grew up around 17th- and 18th-century buildings of historical significance, which gave rise to his appreciation for local history. He moved to Bayside, where he has resided for more than 20 years.
DiBenedetto attended Stony Brook University. He is currently a freelance audio-engineer, which has offered him the opportunity to travel to other countries, working on film, music and video productions. He is the president of the Bayside Historical Society and has served on Community Board 11 for 10 years, where he is co-chair of the Parks Committee and the Environmental Committee.
Motivation to Contribute to Community
DiBenedetto recognizes how “what happens in the past can inform the future.” This fuels his passion to preserve and promote the rapidly disappearing history of northeast Queens. He serves as a civic leader to retain Bayside’s unique quality of life.
He puts his focus on three objectives: “land marking and preservation, student education and cultural programming.”
Biggest Challenge/Greatest Achievement
DiBenedetto’s biggest challenge with the Bayside Historical Society doubles as his greatest accomplishment. This was the campaign to get landmark protection of Hawthorne Court apartments in Bayside, built between 1930 and 1931. The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to designate the apartments as a New York City landmark as a result of the efforts of DiBenedetto and his team.
He is also particularly proud of the Bayside Historical Society and its part in the co-naming of Matinecock Way and Northern Boulevard. This co-naming gave the long-awaited official recognition to the people who inhabited the area long before European influence, some of whom still live here today. Currently, his team is working to get the Ahles House, built in the 1880s by the Bell family, approved as a landmark. The case was recently reviewed by the Landmarks Preservation Commission this past October, as the team and the community still optimistically await an affirmative answer.