NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY UPDATE: Landmarks Preservation Commission Public Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, April 17 (time tba).
This could be The Vote – remember, the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s decision in these matters is final. Please mark your calendars and make every effort to attend this important public meeting following up on the March 20th public hearing regarding the New-York Historical Society’s plan to drastically alter the façade of their “Triple Crown” Landmark on Central Park West.
Typically, the Commission does not allow public testimony at these “meetings.” However, at the end of the March hearing, Chair Robert B. Tierney made it clear that, during the public meeting, he would allow the Historical Society to respond to the community’s comments. Fair enough. There is still much to say, and the design has evolved since it was presented to Community Board 7. Because the record will be re-opened on April 17th to permit the Historical Society to speak, LANDMARK WEST! has requested that the public be given equal opportunity to testify. If you wish to reserve the right to be heard on April 17th, email firstname.lastname@example.org and reinforce the importance of a fair and open process.
The Historical Society’s sadly misguided plan has inspired many thoughtful, expert, keenly observed responses. Here are just some highlights from recent statements (to read more, click on the links below):
Michael Fieldman, architect: “[T]he cosmetic changes to the facades have little if anything to do with attendance, nor upgrading interests or any of the other related or contingent issues. Rather, it is an argument for change for change’s sake….I submit that the entire approach to the redesign of the façade is irresponsible, and unnecessary.”
Allen Staley, Professor Emeritus of Art History at Columbia University and former museum curator: The Historical Society’s plans show “a radical diminution of the space on the Society’s first floor that it uses for temporary exhibitions….From my art-historical and curatorial perspective, this makes no sense.”
Park West 77th Street Block Association: “[The Historical Society’s] proposal for wider doors flies in the face of reality. The two current openings, one 8 feet across, the other 12 feet across with a 50 foot handcapped ramp together welcome 100,000 visitors each in a good year....The nearby American Museum of Natural History has 3, 8 foot wide, revolving-door openings on Central Park West. Their own figures state that each of these doors admits 800,000 visitors per year....Why does the Historical Society need wider entrances and more doors?"
Elizabeth Blair Starkey, neighbor, LW! board member, and member of Community Board 7 (former chair): Speaking on her own behalf, “[I]t is obvious that the present application is only Phase 1 and that the Society will move ahead quickly with Phase 2, the application to develop its property on West 76th St. I urge the Commission to reject this obvious ruse and demand that the Society present a Master Plan that encompasses both projects. The public, who has long loved and supported the Society, deserves an open, transparent process.”
Note: A previous LW! email contained a roster of elected officials who have expressed concern about the Historical Society project and should have also included NYS Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal. We hope to have her statement posted on our website in the near future.
Please visit http://www.landmarkwest.org/advocacy/sos.htm for more information.