The Bell Court Civic Association will be making its public debut during Saturday’s Bayside St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Bell Boulevard. The organization, founded in 2018, is dedicated to safeguarding the character, history and charm of Bell Court and its homes.
According to Roseann Foley Henry, president of the Bell Court Civic Association, the organization was founded after she and a group of residents in the area began talking about how sad they were to see some of the changes to the neighborhood. Classic old homes were getting torn down and replaced with oversized ones that violated zoning limits.
“We’re looking to save charming older houses,” Foley Henry said.
Additionally, she emphasized the importance that homes being built or renovated in the area meet the zoning requirements. According to Foley Henry, these include “buildings meeting no more than the maximum [allowable] height, ratios for square footage (50%), front walls not extending beyond those of the neighbors and not paving over one-third of the green space on a property.”
The organization is also against multifamily houses in single-family zones and houses that don’t match their building permits. “We know that scale is one of the things that has made our community so wonderful over the past 100 years, and we are dedicated to preserving that quality,” Foley Henry said.
As an organization focused on preserving historical buildings, the civic association has an entire section of their website dedicated to the history of Bell Court. In addition to preserving the history and beauty of Bell Court, the Civic Association aims to bring the community together. One way in which the organization intends to help with that is by translating their materials over the summer and fall into different languages.
One project the organization is currently working on is beautifying the area on Bell Bell Boulevard where Walgreens once stood. They are working with the property owners to include signage about Bell Court as well. The group is currently in the process of finding a landscaping company that can get the job done within their price range.
The civic association ultimately has five missions, including fostering a sense of community among residents, protecting the neighborhood’s scale and charm, safeguarding legal single-family zoning, encouraging cooperation between residents, regardless of their background and advocating for the community’s common interests.
While the civic association was born out of concerned neighbors, those within the organization have emphasized they’re not there just there to complain. They encourage architectural work that respects the history of the neighborhood. The organization has spotlighted some of the classic Bell Court homes on its website. Some of them remain as originally designed while others were updated.
In addition to President Foley Henry, other key cogs within the organization include Vice President Paul DiBenedetto, Secretary Dolores Stimitz and Treasurer Barbara Delfyett Hester. DiBenedetto is also one of the heads of the zoning committee, along with Manuel Mergal. Irulan Budabin and Katheen Davidson run the membership committee, Donna Delfyett White and David White lead the bylaws committee and Alexandra Tarasko runs the audit committee.