Monday, September 27, 2010

Millstones being moved to library

From: "Elias, Minna"
To: Recipient list suppressed
Cc: "" ; "Peyre, Brice" ; "Babor, Edward"
Sent: Wed, September 22, 2010 2:55:25 PM
Subject: RE: Millstones Re-Location

I am told an MOU is being executed with Queens Library shortly, and that the millstones will be moved to the library in the next month or so. The millstones will be on display at the library where they will be seen by tens of thousands of visitors. I’m told the cost of moving them is de minimis – the city has the manpower, the fork lift and the truck to transport them, so the extra cost is gas. The Queens library is assuming any costs associated with displaying the millstones in a safe and appropriate way. We are aware that there was some support for moving them to the Greater Astoria Historical Society, and while it is a fine organization with strong community support, there was more support for moving it to the library which has many more visitors. I know the issue of the millstones was considered by Community Board 2, where the Queens Plaza project is being built, and that their input was considered. (and I am aware that Dutch Kills is not in Community Board 2, although the Queens Plaza project is). We look forward to the next stage, when the millstones will be returned to the community where they can be admired by passersby in the neighborhood in which the mills originally operated. It was reiterated to me by representatives of both EDC and City Planning that a new plan will be made for displaying the millstones without drilling them. I hope this is responsive to your concerns.

1) Whoa, I thought the city's position was that the stones were "too fragile" to be moved? What happened to that?
2) Have you heard anyone say they wanted them in a library located between 2 sets of housing projects? All I remember is one side saying they shouldn't be moved from Dutch Kills/Queens Plaza, and the other side saying they should be put in a museum/historical society. Where the hell did this plan come from?
3) What is really going on here? Why did it take so long to get a response to the e-mail below? Why were there no follow up meetings, as promised, after the one held in June?

From: Barbara Lorinz
Subject: Millstones Re-Location
Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2010 00:21:52 -0400

Good Evening Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Councilman Van Bramer & Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan,

Our Dutch Kills Community is hearing rumors that the Millstones will be re-located to the library. Why was our community not involved in this decision?? Why a secret?? This is outrageous.. This is disrespect to all of us in our Dutch Kills Community. We need to know who made this decision without consulting us.

The Best Place to re-locate Our Millstones is the Greater Astoria Historical Society.. The Millstones will be protected & secure & we will be able to visit the Historical Society many hours during the day & evening hours & is more convenient for people to visit & read all about our History, not just the Millstones.. We cannot believe or understand why the library would be a better place to keep our Millstones, rather than The Greater Astoria Historical Society.. Queens Plaza renovation is Federal, State & City $$$... What funds will be used for this move?? We need to discuss this matter before any re-location takes place. Please call me ... about this rumor...

Thank You,

Barbara Lorinz/Pres/Dutch Kills Advocacy League

How artifacts are protected in Manhattan:

There are a lot of folks who should be ashamed of themselves -- including Terri Osborne, "Director of Queens Tourism". Ha. Good one.


Anonymous said...


I too would like to express my hear-felt appreciation for your continued indifference to this community. Barbara's was neither an unreasonable nor a particularly difficult request, and a good representative at least responds to an inquiry from a constituent - especially a community-leader.

Never in my life have I witnessed the kind of structured disrespect by elected officials towards their communities as I see routinely in Western Queens!

Anonymous said...

In our neck of the woods in NE Queens, politicians are more responsive to constituents -- even when it's not time to mug for cameras or fuss about elections.

The very, very least you folks are obligated to do is to demonstrate common courtesy and respond to your constituents and community leaders. Given a different demographic, might you folks be a tad more responsive? Would you treat voters on the Upper East Side the same way you do as your Western Queens constituents? I think we all know the answer to that.

Take a look at how Lower Manhattan's politicians help steward and protect American historical artifacts down at Pearl Street. Take a look at how you politicians in Western Queens "steward" American historical artifacts, like the Jorrisen Millstones at Queens Plaza. Can one of you begin to justify why you've allowed artifacts from a 17th century colonial American gristmill to languish in a NYC sidewalk for decades and, for more than a year now, to sit in plywood boxes in the midst of heavy construction equipment and rubble?

Considering how you ignore your community's (and America's) history, I guess it should come as no surprise that you would ignore constituents, community leaders and true "public servants" -- such as Ms. Lorinz.

Do yourselves a favor if you're ever considering a political run someplace other than Western Queens -- don't bother. If this is how you folks intend to conduct yourselves, it would behoove you to remember that you're only one well-organized campaign away from the unemployment line. Just ask Eric Gioia.

Anonymous said...

The residents of Dutch Kills have voiced their concerns about the future of the historic millstones that have suffered years of abuse and neglect, however their calls for the city to find an appropriate indoor space for these artifacts, perhaps the oldest historical relics of the Borough of Queens, have been consistently ignored by city officials and Representative Carolyn Maloney.

“The city’s decisions about moving the millstones have been made in backroom dealings instead of in open public forums. Residents of Dutch Kills want to know why their member of Congress hasn’t spoken up on our behalf. These historic millstones should be moved to the Greater Astoria Historical Society, where they can receive the care they deserve. The community has consistently called for the millstones to be moved to this location; unfortunately the city and elected officials have ignored them.

“The decision to move the historic millstones must include community input. The mishandling of the millstones is yet another failure of leadership and a clear example of how the Dutch Kills community has been consistently neglected by Carolyn Maloney and other officials.”

Reshma Saujani

Anonymous said...

When the millstones disappeared into a Queens Plaza construction site last fall, a town hall meeting with attendees from around the borough voiced concerns about their safety.

Although invited, no elected officials or representatives of either City Planning or EDC attended the meeting.

Anonymous said...

Photographs throughout the fall and winter showed the community’s concerns well placed for the millstones were dangerously exposed with construction debris piled around them. Behind fencing designed to conceal, one was moved. An outpouring of outrage finally forced EDC to take some cosmetic steps. A sign was put up.

A few months ago, during a meeting to defuse growing anger, City Planning and EDC made public their intention to remove the stones from the community. Called “fragile” in the fall, City Planning now termed them “robust.”

Anonymous said...

Was this an appropriate use for the library, particularly in light of the limited hours and threats in funding?

Anonymous said...

Penny Lee of the Department of City Planning, working with powerful figures at the Dutch Kills Civic Association, without the advice of an archeologist, have decided to make this a battle of wills, insisting they remain on pedestals on Queens Plaza.

To treat these historic artifacts as pawns, to exclude our community from any meaningful say on their future, goes against everything this nation stands for and against 350 years of local tradition and pride.

As a result of very poor planning by the City, these millstones and Dutch Kills, our community, have suffered abusive neglect.

Despite the heritage of these artifacts, various City officials have allowed these millstones to be eroded, cracked, even permitted hot asphalt to be poured on them.

Anonymous said...

Monday July 26, 2010

Dear Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer & Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.

I am a direct descendant of the Payntar/Skillman Family, who once owned most of the land in and around what is now called Queens Plaza, formerly Dutch Kills.

The Historic Payntar Millstones, were used to made flour for Washington’s Continental Army and is indeed a Treasure and worth Preserving. The Millstones are priceless and played an important part not only in the Revolutionary War but the old way of life in Dutch Kills. They are now languishing on a Queens Plaza construction site.

The Greater Astoria Historical Society has done much research on these Millstones. My family and I really feel that these two Colonial Era Millstones, should be moved to an Exhibit Space within the Greater Astoria Historical Society Building, where they can be exhibited and studied. They care about History and you should too. They are not just two pieces of stone.

It is my hope that our families Millstones will find a home with the Greater Astoria Historical Society.

William Payntar Sr

Anonymous said...

And how many people are willing to visit a funeral home and take an elevator to the 4th floor to GAHS just to view the millstones?

The library is a far better choice as a location.

Anonymous said...

But people will be "willing" to schlep to a library between two sets of housing projects to do so?

Historic objects belong on display someplace where they will be respected and where there are people who can adequately explain their history. If someone at the library has questions about the millstones, who are they going to ask about them? The librarian on duty? And will they get the correct answer?

Anonymous said...

GAHS is open twice as many hours as the library, and four blocks from 4 subway lines and with a major bus line by the front door.

The library is in the middle of nowhere on 21st Street.

... to say twice the exhibit space. When the library was suggested to Van Bramer in the spring he thought it as a bad idea 'without enough room'. There were five people present who heard that as we understand.

Anonymous said...

Let me understand this.

Were 40 people were let go from the library system because there was no money, but there is money to transport the millstones? Was this to perhaps satisfy the whim of a library trustee?

There is not enough people at the library now.

Galente needs to exlpain this to our community.

Anonymous said...

DKCA and City Planning both mislead the community. They said the millstones were too fragile to move, an archeologist was hired, and they were going to stay in Queens Plaza and not be moved when the historical society offered them as a temporaty safe haven.

None of these statements were true when first stated as fact.

If this is true, then Penny Lee from City Planning knowingly misled the community.

If she did, she does not have our confidence.

If she does not have our confidence she should either be transferred or lose her position.

Anonymous said...

And how many people are willing to visit a funeral home and take an elevator to the 4th floor to GAHS just to view the millstones?

As a member of the historical society I can state that they routinely have 100 people for one show.

Anonymous said...

A victory to be sure. But I am wondering, just how many pieces will they be in when they are finally moved?

Anonymous said...

A victory to be sure. But I am wondering, just how many pieces will they be in when they are finally moved?


A victory for whom?

I think this is a classic Pyrrhic victory: a victory with devastating cost to the victor; it carries the implication that another such will ultimately cause defeat.

After this little exercise, everyone, from EDC, City Planning, and the local elected officials now have an image that will be impossible to erase.

They won, a steamroller that crushed the ' little people ' but at the cost of making themselves even smaller people than the ones the just stomped on.

And like the Tsarist cossacks riding down the peasants before the Kremlin, their hold over us is forever broken.

Bloody Sunday said...

Anonymous said...

Yup, will be the millstone around their neck.

Millstones Blog said...

For more info

georgetheatheist said...

"How many people are willing to visit a funeral home...?"

On the money. Can you think of a more creepier place to learn about history? Can't the GAHS find a different locale to hold their meetings? I want to avoid a funeral home, not go to it.

Come to a fun-place mortuary to learn about your heritage.

Anonymous said...

Take it you have never been there, George.

they are on a seperate 10,000 sq foot floor from the rest of the building.

Besides, you want to loiter on 21st Street after sundown?

Anonymous said...

George, ever been to the 42nd street library building?

Built on a former cemetary.

Anonymous said...

Hell, the Ravenswood library is built on a swamp filled with dead horses and mules. Friend of my lives in the Hallets Cove developement and they have all of 6 inches of topsoil.

More than one body was pulled out of it in the nineteenth century. How many did they miss?


georgetheatheist said...

Yes, I have attended meetings. The last time with the guy who was the bridge photographer. But I've got to go past the hearse in the lobby and the gloomy lighting. When the elevator stops on the 2nd and 3rd floors, I wonder what's being stored around the bend.

Let's party at the Quinn Funeral Home.

Anonymous said...

I thought that the idea was to preserve the millstones from the elements and not have GAHS hijack them to boost their own publicity!

(LOL) Quinn's Funeral appropriate place for dry dead history.

Anonymous said...

I once pushed the elevator button to take me to GAHS on the 4th floor but the elevator suddenly went down to the basement where a casket (with corpse?) was being unloaded.

Was I entering a horror museum's expecting to view wax likenesses of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff?

"He who is bitten by a werewolf and survives....himself becomes a werewolf".

Next time I attend a GAHS exhibit, I'll be sure to load my revolver with silver bullets...just in case.

Anonymous said...

How would they be hijacked by being put on display in a historical society?

P.S. there are other businesses in the Quinn building besides a funeral home.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I have attended meetings. The last time with the guy who was the bridge photographer. But I've got to go past the hearse in the lobby and the gloomy lighting. When the elevator stops on the 2nd and 3rd floors, I wonder what's being stored around the bend.

Actually, yes there is a hisortic display in the lobby of the buildinig including artifacts from the community's past. There is a photo of a hearse that was in the lobby 40 years ago.

What is on the 2nd and 3rd floors around the bend - perhaps meetings of the community board committees, the Astoria Kiwanis, the Broadway Merchants Association, Central Astoria Development, Steinway BID, etc etc etc.

Sorry, bub. There are strict protocals in that building to seperate the funeral stuff from everything else.

Back to the issue at hand. The community was dissed by City Planning, EDC, and our elected officials.

If it wasn't for GAHS, God knows what would have happened to those millstones. The fact is the community of western Queens regards that place as the home for their communty's heritage.

The people that run that organization deserves everyone's credit for standing up and fighting for us.

Anonymous said...

Hate to beat a dead horse, but wanted to add our two cents.

Weight Watchers has been on the fourth floor in the Quinn Building for nearly four years.

The schedule is very active: up to 20 meetings a week each session having 20 to 50 people. Not once was there anything as George describes.

The staff in the lobby of the Quinn Building are courteous and polite to everyone.

On the floor, bathrooms are immaculate and the carpets are routinely shampooed. Far better than the previous location and, yes, any library branch I’ve been in.

The historical society has slowly converted the floor with new exhibits and lighting and an information kiosk into something that resembles both a museum and tourism center.

For the record, they deserve our compliments.

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it that this is financed by the Elmezzi Foundation:

If this is true, does this mean on one hand you build up the ghetto and on the other you trip up the community?

georgetheatheist said...

Weight Watchers in the same building? Now I'm creeped out more than ever!

Anonymous said...

Sure George, and you can also find meetings with LICA, Greenshores, Transportation Alternatives, the North Star Fund, etc. Downstairs are stores that are hairdressers, tax prep, flowers real estate offices.

The stuff that defines the heart and soul of a community on so many levels.

...or do you share the values of EDC, city planning, and the other public servents that the community and its instutions is a place to be ignored and laughed at? A place to be served empty promises? Simpy blocks and lots on a map to be filled with a better use?

You seem to enjoy poking fun at it and its residents and the organizations they support.

Perhaps George you agree with a guy that went on record of telling the community that has cared for the millstones for 350 years that, well, whats the big deal, they are 'just rocks'.

what was his name George? Do you like your company?

Miles Mullin said...

I think if, indeed, Elmezzi is involved, they, as well as the library board, have a lot of questions from the community.

The first is how did Elmezzi define the community and what are they doing to expand their outreach into the broader area?

Would they have funded something like this (if indeed they did) knowing the controversy?

And the library, how did they determine that 'more people' wanted them at the library - as opposed to having actual real librarians that had to let go.

A lot of questions it seems to me that will not go away.

Anonymous said...

Maloney The Phoney

georgetheatheist said...

Hey, you can store the millstones in my living room. Then display them in my baywindow. I'll spring for the spotlighting.

Anonymous said...

Great if you live in Queensbridge, George.