Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Shearith Israel's Application Incomplete: Public Meeting Postponed

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Community Board 7 has postponed its public meeting on Congregation Shearith Israel's application to develop 5 stories of luxury condos on top of a new community house at 8 West 70th Street. The meeting had been scheduled for the evening of Wednesday, June 20. According to an email circulated by CB7 late this afternoon, it will be rescheduled "when their application is complete."

When it's complete? Hasn't Shearith Israel taken months, if not years, to craft this proposal, which would require 8 variances from the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA)? Surely by now, at the very least, their application is "complete." Not so fast, suggests a letter that BSA issued to Shearith Israel on Friday, June 15, itemizing 48 (48!) objections to the materials submitted back in April 2007. (LANDMARK WEST! obtained a copy of this objection letter on Friday afternoon and brought it immediately to CB7's attention, resulting in today's postponement.) Clearly, BSA is tuned into the magnitude this planned condo development--and the fact that New Yorkers all over the city have their eye on the issue of nonprofit institutions playing real estate games.

Stay tuned for details about future public meetings on this issue. In the meantime, for background information and to learn more about why this matters so much to our neighborhood - YOUR neighborhood - please visit www.protectwest70.org and www.landmarkwest.org.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Presenting P.S. 166's Exquisite Neighborhood Model

LANDMARK WEST! is excited to announce the exhibition of a stunning and colorful neighborhood model created by 2nd graders at P.S. 166* (132 West 89th Street) in collaboration with LW!’s youth education program, Keeping the Past for the Future. The model will be on display in the front window of Council Member Gale Brewer’s district office, located at 563 Columbus Avenue (at 87th Street).

As part of the Keeping the Past for the Future curriculum, 2nd graders studied their immediate neighborhood and environment with a LW! educator, learning about the various building types, architectural elements, and businesses that form part of the exciting Upper West Side community. Students’ models on display include police stations, banks, grocery stores, brownstones, schools, and libraries. The students completed the project under the guidance of P.S. 166 classroom teachers Julie Stone and Carmen Cardona, and LW! Director of Education Elyse Newman.

Be sure to stop by Council Member Gale Brewer’s district office to see this beautiful and detailed student model firsthand! LANDMARK WEST! would like to thank Council Member Brewer for hosting the exhibition and for her continued support for Keeping the Past for the Future.


Keeping the Past for the Future (now in its 10th year!) is designed to foster within our city’s young people, primarily in grades 1 to 5, a strong sense of engagement, ownership, and responsibility toward their community through learning about the built environment and its history. Through its interdisciplinary and hands-on activities, Keeping the Past for the Future supports literacy, mathematical ability, analytic thinking, problem solving and creative thinking. Meanwhile, the program emphasizes the important role of historic preservation in sustaining the quality of life of our community for present and future generations. During the 2006-2007 school year, KPF reached over 1,000 students in 40 classrooms and 8 schools on the Upper West Side—and at no cost to public schools. If you would like Keeping the Past for the Future to be a part of your child’s education, contact your school principal or parent coordinator
and tell them!

To learn more about Keeping the Past for the Future, visit www.landmarkwest.org/education, or email elysenewman@landmarkwest.org.

*P.S. 166 was designated an individual New York City Landmark in 2000. It was designed by Charles B.J. Snyder and completed in 1898.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Shearith Israel Back in Play

More Tower Talk: Congregation Shearith Israel's Luxury Condo Plan is Back
After a more than a year of watching and waiting, Congregation Shearith Israel (CSI) is back with its controversial plan to develop 5 stories of luxury condos on top of a new community house at 8 West 70th Street. Community Board 7's Land Use Committee will hold a public meeting to discuss (and possibly vote on) this application on Wednesday, June 20 (starting after 7 PM, more specific time tba). The location is
7 West 83rd Street
(between Central Park West and
Columbus Avenue
) in the board room of Congregation Rodeph Sholom.
Between the New-York Historical Society on the West Side, Mt. Sinai on the East Side, uptown and downtown (and, as the old song goes, all around the town), the issue of tax-exempt nonprofit institutions exploiting their sites as "development opportunities" is more timely than ever. That's why YOUR participation in CB7's June 20 meeting is absolutely essential! This is about more than one institution's attempt to develop its real estate on the back of the surrounding community. This is about breaking down the West Side's historically strong resistance to inappropriate development that, block by block, will erode the architectural character and integrity of our city's historic districts.
While CSI could construct an appropriate, 6-story community house facility "as of right" (i.e., following groundrules for sound development), it needs no fewer than 8 special variances from the Board of Standards and Appeals to build a 105'-tall structure, including condos, more than twice as high as the brownstones that define this historic mid-block of West 70th Street, protected as part of an R8-B contextual zoning district AND as part of the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District, both created decades ago to preserve the low-rise, human-scale character of our neighborhood's mid-blocks. The site is also immediately adjacent to one of New York's most important Individual Landmarks, Congregation Shearith Israel, aka the Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue (Brunner & Tryon, 1897), one of the handful of low-rise, Classical-style institutional buildings that play a key role in the Central Park West skyline.
Don't let Congregation Shearith Israel be yet another domino to fall! Join us at Community Board 7 on June 20!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Landmarks Budget Emergency

AT RISK: The Landmarks Preservation Commission and Historic Buildings and Neighborhoods Throughout NYC!

Unless YOU act right now, the already minuscule budget of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) -- the only city agency with the authority to protect New York's historic buildings and neighborhoods -- YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD -- could be cut significantly in the coming weeks.

The City Council, now entering final budget negotiations, must hear from you. Immediately. Email/call/fax your local council member and members of the budget negotiating team TODAY. See contact information below.

Frustrated with the LPC? Their slowness to respond? The ever-quickening pace of development, eating away at the character of our communities? It will only get worse, unless the LPC has the resources it needs to carry out its vital mission. Landmark West! is part of a broad coalition advocating for a $1 million increase in the LPC budget on top of its current budget of just over $4 million -- a modest amount of money that could make a world of difference in the LPC's ability to protect the buildings and neighborhoods that matter to the people of our city. ACT NOW! Contact the Council, and forward this message to friends and colleagues.

Who is your council person? Go to http://www.cmap.nypirg.org/netmaps/MyGovernment/NYC/MyGovernmentNYC.asp?cmd=start.

Who are the council members on the budget negotiating team?

Quinn quinn@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (212) 564-7347; T: (212) 564-7757

Brewer gale.brewer@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (212) 873-0279; T: (212) 873-0282

Garodnick garodnick@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (212) 818-0706; T: (212) 818-0580

Baez baez@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 584-5725; T: (718) 584-6955

Comrie comrie@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 776-3798; T: (718) 776-3700

Dilan emdilan@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 642-8639; T: (718) 642-8664

McMahon mcmahon@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 556-7389; T: (718) 556-7370

Rivera rivera@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 842-6280; T: (718) 842-8100

Dickens dickens@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (212) 442-2732; T: (212) 678-4505

Fidler fidler@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 241-9316; T: (718) 241-9330

DiBlasio deblasio@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 854-1146; T: (718) 854-9791

Gallagher (gallagher@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 326-3549; T: (718) 366-3900)

Oddo oddo@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 980-1051; T: (718) 980-1017

Jackson jackson@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (212) 928-4177; T: (212) 928-1322

Arroyo arroyo@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 402-0539; T: (718) 402-6130

Reyna reyna@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 963-4527; T: (718) 963-3141

Weprin weprin@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 776-2302; T: (718) 465-8202

Katz katz@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 544-4452; T: (718) 544-8800

At-large members

Mark-Viverito viverito@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (212) 722-6378; T: (212) 828-9800

Martinez martinez@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (917) 521-1293; T: (917) 521-2616/2640

Seabrook seabrook@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 652-0703; T: (718) 994-9900

Sears sears@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 803-9832; T: (718) 803-6373

Stewart stewart@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 951-8191; T: (718) 951-8177