Letters to the Editor, Dec. 4

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

First comes ‘de-calendaring,’ then demolition

On Tuesday, State Senator Brad Hoylman sent a letter to New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan in response to the proposed LPC “de-calendaring” of potential landmarks:

Dear Chair Srinivasan:

I write to express my serious concern over the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission’s (LPC) proposed “de-calendaring” of potential landmark sites throughout the city, including 14 sites in my Senate District, and strongly urge that the LPC reconsider this course of action.

I do not believe that the LPC has allowed for sufficient public input on such a drastic action and I fear that removing properties from the calendar may place many vulnerable potential landmarks at risk. Last year, after receiving notification that a former automobile showroom designed by Frank Lloyd Wright at 430 Park Avenue in my district was under consideration as a landmark, the owners soon thereafter demolished the property literally in the middle of the night, thereby robbing New Yorkers of an important part of our city’s historic and cultural heritage.

I am concerned that once LPC removes the proposed properties from the calendar, thus removing the protections that this preliminary designation imparts, the same fate will befall these properties and they, too, will be demolished with absolutely no recourse provided to the public.

Instead, the LPC should hold public hearings on the properties and carefully and deliberately consider each one on the merits of the proposed landmark, rather than on the length of time it has been on the LPC’s calendar.

It would be an indelible stain on New York City’s collective conscience for these historic properties to have survived so long, only to be lost to an administrative “clearing out” of longstanding calendared properties. The Commission should delay the scheduled December 9 vote and review each property through the normal landmark process to allow preservationists, community members and property owners time to review and comment on proposed actions.

Sincerely,

Brad Hoylman
State Senator,
27th District

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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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