Thursday, October 21, 2004

Update: City Council Hearing on Landmarks Commission

City Council Hearing on Landmarks Evokes Passion and Substance

(For Daily News coverage, click here.)

Hundreds of preservationists attempted to participate in yesterday's City Council oversight hearing on the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), which was held in a small room on the 16th floor of an office building (rather than at City Hall). People lined the walls, spilled out the door, were herded into a cafeteria next to the hearing room (where they could neither see nor hear the proceedings), and waited for admission on a line that snaked through the building's lobby. Many who came to deliver testimony were turned away at the front desk.

Those who did make it into the hearing room witnessed an outpouring of both passion and substance. The hearing began more than half an hour late at 3:30 PM and was (inexplicably) adjourned at 5:30 PM, leaving time for only brief public testimony. But one speaker in particular, Former LPC Commissioner Anthony M. Tung , spoke for the majority when he cited "serious failures in the performance of [the LPC]." "These are long-standing problems, some growing worse in recent years, and to which neither the commission nor the mayor's office has responded." (To read his testimony, click here.)

Other speakers included Tom Wolfe, former LPC Chair Beverly Moss Spatt, former Council Member Ronnie Eldridge, and former Art Commission President Whitney North Seymour, Jr. , all of whom reiterated that something is clearly wrong with the Landmarks process as it is implemented. Unfortunately, current LPC Chair Robert B. Tierney was not present to hear public testimony - he departed after delivering his own statement.

The Chair of the Council's Landmarks Subcommittee, Council Member Simcha Felder, who scheduled the hearing, expressed surprise that so many people took an interest in the administrative procedures of the LPC. He promised to hold a second hearing to take additional public testimony. But time is of the essence! Please write to Chair Felder ( - especially if you tried to attend, but were not admitted - and let him know of your interest in participating in a second hearing. Also, please copy so that we know you were there! We'll keep you posted on future dates...

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