A Flushing urban planner and historic preservation consultant has been named president of the Historic Districts Council.
Paul Graziano, 36, will serve as chief of the citywide group, which advocates for historic neighborhoods in all five boroughs. The Historic Districts Council was founded in 1971 and works with the more than 80 designated historic districts throughout the city about landmark regulations and advises prospective areas seeking landmark status.
“Preservation means more than just landmarking,” Graziano said, “and we need to broaden our approach to come up with different strategies on how to protect and preserve neighborhoods in all five boroughs.”
That could include zoning changes and enforcing deed restrictions, he noted.
Graziano has worked with Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) to downzone areas in Northern Queens and helped get Douglaston Hill designated as a historic district in 2004.
He believes the city has always treated Queens landmarks as expendable. “There are 55 historic districts in Manhattan and only six in Queens,” he said.
Graziano is concerned that the city’s stance on promoting downzoning has seemed to stop. “North Flushing, Laurelton and the Waldheim area of Flushing want rezoning. The city has promised rezoning, but hasn’t followed through,” he said.
One of his recent endeavors, with Phillip Esser, was to successfully complete the lengthy nomination form for the Broadway-Flushing neighborhood as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. Broadway-Flushing is still waiting for the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to act on the local level.
A graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Graziano received his master’s degree from Hunter College. He serves as chairman of the Landmarks Committee of the Queens Civic Congress and became a member of the Historic Districts Council board of directors in 2004.
As president of the council, he hopes to diversify the board and not just have members from Manhattan.