QUEENS PLAZA — One of the historic millstones on display in Dutch Kills Green had to be repaired by the Parks Department this week, after a piece of the stone fell off for the second time in the last few years.
The stones, believed to be relics from a nearby tide mill, have been on display in the Queens Plaza park since shortly after it opened in 2012 — despite calls from a local historian who worries the artifacts will be damaged in the busy outdoor spot.
One of the round stones was repaired Tuesday by Parks Department workers after a chunk of it that broke off previously came loose again, according to spokeswoman Meghan Lalor. Workers who made the repairs used a stronger adhesive to reattach the piece this time, she added.
This isn't the first time the stones have been marred — according to the Daily News, a chunk of one stone originally fell in 2012. Someone then tagged one of the stones with graffiti in 2013, as DNAinfo reported at the time.
The stones were repaired and cleaned in both instances, though local historian Bob Singleton of the Greater Astoria Historical Society believes the incidents are proof that the busy Queens Plaza park is the wrong spot for the artifacts. Their location makes them vulnerable to vandalism, pollution and the elements, he said.
"With this kind of a track record, I really think we have to revisit the wisdom of leaving these priceless artifacts in the middle of Queens Plaza," he said.
Singleton says he has offered to move the stones indoors to the historical society headquarters in Astoria, where they could be put on display and where an exhibit could explain their significance.
While their exact origins have not been confirmed, Singleton believes the stones are centuries old and may have been used to grind wheat to make flour in a mill that was once located where Sunnyside Yards is now.
Singleton said wheat plays a big role in New York's past, as the region was once an avid producer of the grain.
"It's part of the timeline of New York City history," he said.