Eric Rouda – President of the Senator Street 300 BlockAssociation

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: In 2002, Rouda was instrumental insecuring historic district status for 38 brownstones, including hisown residence, and two garages, on Senator Street in Bay Ridge,when the row was granted a place on the New York State and NationalRegister of Historic Places. Rouda says the block between Third andFourth Avenues is distinct because of the number of brownstonesdesigned by the same architect, on both sides of the street. Roudaexplained that it was an area where he felt that he and his partnerof 22 years, Ronald Gross, could affect positive change. I felt itwas something good for the block, good for the neighborhood, andsomething Ron and I were capable of accomplishing, he said. Ijust felt we could do it. That same year, Rouda became presidentof the Senator Street 300 Block Association, an organization thathad recently become active again, after a period of dormancy.Although he was riding a wave of neighborhood approval from thebump in property values he and his neighbors had received from thelandmark distinction, he was frustrated by the fact that onlyhistoric recognition from the city could preserve the brownstonespermanently. Being on the state and national register, Offers noprotection, Rouda said The only protection is to have designationas a landmark from New York City, which we’ve been struggling withsince the [national and state] designation.

GREATEST CHALLENGE: While he admits there is currently a trendin Bay Ridge towards maintaining the area’s history and culture,Rouda says it wasn’t always an easy sell. I think the communitymembers have realized preservation is vital to Bay Ridge, he said,adding, Over time, preservation has become one of the tenets ofthe maintenance of our community.

INSPIRATION: As a community activist, Rouda has focused onpreservation. Another cause he engaged in – albeit without success- was the movement to save the Green Church, which despite thepassionate efforts of local activists was torn down in 2008. Hefeels that a bit of respect for the city’s history can go a longway towards preserving its legacy. Too much of the history of ourcity is lost by beautiful buildings [being] torn down and replacedwith ugly modern ones, Rouda said. After having lived in Bay Ridgefor more than 20 years, he feels this neighborhood particularly hasa legacy worth preserving. We have sections of our community weshould be very proud of, and preserving those aspects of ourcommunity should be very important, he said.

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