Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Update: Progress in Communities' Effort to Preserve Preservation

Important steps were made towards reform of the NYC landmarks process at yesterday's City Council hearing on the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). Testimony touched on a range of concerns about the LPC's commitment to protect the city's historic places, including 2 Columbus Circle, Harlem's St. Thomas the Apostle Church, and the Far Rockaways' 1830s Mott House (recently demolished, without a hearing). For coverage in today's Daily News, click here. The Gotham Gazette is also running a feature story on "2 Columbus Circle and the Need to Preserve Preservation" by LANDMARK WEST! Executive Director Kate Wood (to read this, go here).

At the end of the 3-hour hearing, attended by close to 100 individuals and representatives of civic organizations citywide, Council Member Simcha Felder (Chair of the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses) concluded that:

1) The landmarks process would benefit from an annual hearing to obtain communities' feedback;

2) The LPC's unequal treatment of applicants and community participants in public hearings is unacceptable and must be rectified immediately;

3) The staffing of the LPC is clearly inadequate.

Council Member Felder's comments recognize and affirm vital points raised in the report, Problems Experienced by Community Groups Working with the Landmarks Preservation Commission (coordinated by the Women's City Club and co-authored by 7 groups including LANDMARK WEST!), which was articulately presented to the Council by former Landmarks Commissioner Anthony M. Tung . To read the report, click here.

Council Member Bill Perkins also keenly observed that the LPC seems to be acting as a real estate development agency rather than a preservation agency.


Recognition of problems is always (but only) the first step towards solutions. You can help move the process forward by a) sending Council Member Felder a note of thanks for holding this important hearing (felder@council.nyc.ny.us , or fax 718-853-3858), and b) assisting us in gathering additional support for the Report . Already, less than 2 weeks after the report's release, 25 organizations from historic neighborhoods throughout the city have signed on to endorse its findings. If you represent or can suggest groups that would like to sign on, please email or call us (landmarkwest@landmarkwest.org , 212-496-8110).

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