Tuesday, March 7, 2006

LPC Poised to Vote on Shearith Israel Tower, 8 W. 70th Street

Say "No" to out-of-scale development in our historic districts! Mark your calendar to attend the Landmarks Preservation Commission's (LPC's) public meeting on Tuesday, March 14 (exact time tba), when they may very well take a vote on Congregation Shearith Israel's controversial plan to construct an 11-story (124-foot) building at 8 West 70th Street adjacent to the Individual Landmark Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue on a predominantly low-rise, brownstone block in the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District and the contextual midblock zoning district (R8B) designed to protect the block's low-scale character. Although testimony will not be taken from the public, your presence is absolutely critical and will speak volumes about the major concerns about this project and the far-ranging precedents it would set for communities all across the city. (See below for other action steps you can take.)

We're not alone. Here's what other neighborhood groups have had to say about the synagogue's plan:

Brooklyn Heights Association - "[W]e believe that in this period of burgeoning development pressure the Commission should pause to consider, as a matter of broad preservation policy, its essential role in defending the character of lower scale areas in the districts it supervises."

Park Slope Civic Council - "Our 700 members and 30 trustees will follow closely the action taken here, as we wish to avoid any precedents that could be used to
compromise the decades of hard work and accomplishments achieved to maintain the integrity of our historic and unique neighborhood."

Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation - "We strongly believe that...zoning which has been crafted to ensure design compatibility in historic neighborhoods should be strengthened and protected, rather than weakened."

Defenders of the Historic Upper East Side - "In recent years, many institutions have relentlessly disregarded the historic scale of the architecture in these midblocks. The Congregation Shearith Israel application is just another example of an ill-conceived, out-of-scale institutional proposal."

Has the LPC gotten the message? Tuesday will tell. Please make every effort to attend! And let the LPC hear from you beforehand - please send emails/faxes to LPC Chair Robert B. Tierney today! Email:
comments@lpc.nyc.gov, Fax: 212-669-7955. (Please send copies to us at landmarkwest@landmarkwest.org.)

**Another important contact is Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who until recently represented much of the Upper West Side in the NYS Assembly. Since taking office in January, BP Stringer has taken some tough stands on over-development issues in other neighborhoods - urge him to take a stand on this one as well! Email/fax him your views -
bp@manhattanbp.org, 212-669-7862 (fax), 212-669-8300 (phone).

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