Wednesday, April 21, 2010

West-Park heard by City Council Subcomm. on Landmarks; vote forthcoming

The hallowed halls of NYC's City Hall came alive yesterday as people--community members, architects, preservationists, religious leaders, and more--filled Council Chambers, waiting for their turn to make their voice heard.  The matter at hand: the Individual Landmark designation of West-Park Presbyterian Church.  A prime example of public engagement at the grassroots level, indeed, as over 60 of those individuals and groups present put their vote on the record and provided public testimony.

Following unanimous votes of approval by, first, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (on Jan. 12, 2010) and, second, the City Planning Commission (on Mar. 10, 2010), West-Park was reviewed yesterday at public hearing of the City Council Subcomittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses.  Council member Brad Lander, chair of the subcommittee, directed the proceedings.

Kate Wood
, Executive Director of LW!, reminded all present that “landmarking promises more solutions than obstacles.”  Ms. Wood was one of many speakers who stated before the Subcomittee that "the community is eager to support adaptive reuse of the building." In addition, she presented the Subommittee with a petition of over 1,200 names, representing those who support the designation of West-Park.

Testimony ranged from discussion about the striking beauty of the Romanesque Revivial building and potential funding sources for renovating the historic structure to the irreparable damage that losing a historic religious building can have on a community, and, lest one not forget, the fact that West-Park has not been used by the congregation in two years.  Rather, sits vacant at its prominent corner of West 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.

UWS Council member Gale Brewer reported to members of the press that the meeting went well, and continued to pledge her support for the designation of the church. "I know my community," she exclaimed multiple times, adding also that she felt certain all parties could work together to find a feasible solution.

The City Council's Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses is expected to vote on the designation of West-Park at their next meeting on Tuesday, May 4th (time and location TBD). Join us there and show your support for West-Park!

Learn more on the church's journey to become an official NYC landmark here.

To stay updated on West-Park, follow LW! on Twitter or check out our Facebook page.

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