The LPC's backlog includes 94 buildings, some of them backlogged for as long as 20 years. The LPC, under its new head, has devised its own plan for dealing with the backlog. The commission plans to deal with the items in public hearings organized by borough. Imposing arbitrary deadlines to deal with a mere 94 potential landmark sites is overkill and the LPC should be allowed to process applications thoughtfully and without interference from outside entities.
According to the New York Times, Councilman David G. Greenfield of Brooklyn, the chairman of the council's Committee on Land Use, and the bill's co-sponsor, argued that the commission does not deserve special treatment from any other government body. "We have timelines at the City Council, City Planning, the Department of Buildings". "If we can do it, the Landmarks Commission can do it, too". That argument implies that the LPC isn't doing their job as well as they should or could be. It is hardly a fair argument. You know what else would speed up the landmarking process? Staffing the LPC commensurate with their workload. According to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), the Landmark's Preservation Commission is the city's smallest agency with the fewest resources and smallest staff despite having to oversee more than 33,000 properties in addition to considering new landmark designations. It is one of the most understaffed agencies in the city. Moreover, the GVSHP states that 80 percent of designations already take place within the proposed time frame. "The bill swats a fly with a sledge hammer".
The LPC is not an institution designed to impede real-estate development. It exists to protect the architectural heritage of New York City. The vast majority of buildings in the city are not considered landmark worthy within the confines of the LPC's guidelines. Non-architecturally important buildings can be repurposed, modified or demolished as property owners and developers see fit. This developer friendly bill should not jeopardize the precious few buildings that the LPC considers worth protecting in perpetuity.
Intro 775 should not be allowed to pass. Imposing arbitrary deadlines could mean the loss of a piece of history. Maintaining the architectural integrity of our neighborhoods is what connects us to them and creates the city's sense of place. What would this city be like without its historic buildings like Grand Central Station, the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings? It would be a placeless city, anywhere U.S.A.
If you feel as I do, then I encourage you to contact your city council member to voice opposition to this bill. It’s not too late. You can look up your council member and their contact info under "Who We Are" on the New York City Council website.
Below are some landmarked buildings from around Brooklyn that have been featured on this blog. Without their landmark status many would be torn down while the rest would be at risk.
|Domino Sugar Refinery|
|Public Bath No. 7|
|McGovern Weir Greenhouse|
|Our Lady Queen of All Saints Church|
|Hunterfly Road Houses|
|Hunterfly Road Houses|
|Former Dime Savings Bank - Downtown Brooklyn Branch|