T&V Synagogue gets landmarked

Town & Village Synagogue (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Town & Village Synagogue (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

After being calendared by the Landmarks Preservation Commission for the last 50 years, the wait at Town & Village Synagogue is finally over. The East 14th Street building was officially landmarked last Tuesday, and T&V president Marianna Mott Newirth said that the community is happy with the commission’s compromise in their decision.

The need for compromise came from the fact that the synagogue is actually made up of two different structures — the original façade and the back part of the building that was added later — and the synagogue’s community was opposed to landmarking the entire building because of the difficulties involved with getting approval from the LPC for renovations. As a result, the landmark status applies only to the façade of the building.

“(The commission) is mainly concerned about what is visible so clearly back building isn’t part of that,” she said. “They agreed that the back was built much later and has nothing to do with the original structure.”

Many members of the synagogue were wary of landmarking because of how it would affect necessary renovations for the building. Since the back part of the building wasn’t landmarked and the same restrictions don’t apply, work that needs to be done there won’t be a problem, but Newirth noted that there won’t be much change in their process anyway: it’s been calendared for so long that it’s almost like the property’s been landmarked the whole time anyway.

“Our original argument against landmarking was that it would delay steps on going forward and that happened, so we have to pay extra now,” she said. “In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that big a deal. It just means going forward we have to put more thought into timeline and factor in the extra time to get LPC approval.”

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Hoylman: Picture of New York Senate isn’t a pretty one for tenants

State Sen. Brad Hoylman

State Sen. Brad Hoylman

By Sabina Mollot

New York voters kept power in the hands of the State Senate’s Republicans on Tuesday with the Republicans winning a a 32-31 majority. Additionally, a Democrat who has caucused with Republicans, Simcha Felder, may continue to do so, City & State reported, which would solidify Republicans’ position to 33 in the 63-seat chamber.

As a result, State Senator Brad Hoylman said he suspects that any hope of strengthening the rent laws as well as passing other Democrat legislation will now be up to the Assembly and the governor.

“You’re not going to have Senate Democrats being able to exact much leverage,” he said. But, he added, of course he is still going to try to get the rent laws strengthened when they’re up for renewal in 2015. “We have to keep trying,” Hoylman said. “There is no alternative.”

Hoylman, who was reelected with over 85 percent of the vote in an inactive campaign, said that he thought the more closely contested state races were affected by nation-wide trends as well as a lot of real estate and hedge fund money being poured into the coffers of candidates in those races. One million dollars was spent on TV ads this weekend alone, he noted, from supporters of charter schools. This “seemed to have made the difference in the Wagner and Gipson races,” he said. Justin Wagner and Terry Gipson were upstate Democratic candidates who lost to Republicans Terrence Murphy and Sue Serino, respectively. Another upstate Democrat, CeCe Tkaczyk, who’d won with a mere 18 votes last time, lost her seat on Tuesday.

“The amount of money that’s been spent was unexpected and unprecedented,” Hoylman added. “This is a terrific example of why we need campaign finance reform.” Previously, it appeared as though Democrats control of the State Senate following the election would be likely, with a plan by a breakaway group of Democrats who’d been caucusing with Republicans, to once again ally with more mainline Democrats. The plan, announced in June, had been cheered by Governor Cuomo.

On the turn of events, Hoylman said he wasn’t going to blame anyone.

“It’s up to Senate Democrats to win their own races,” he said. “You can’t rely on the governor or the mayor to win our local districts. I’m not pointing fingers the day after on who’s responsible.” He added, “I’m sure there’ll be a lot of finger pointing in the weeks and months to come.”