Yesterday’s Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing for the proposed Bedford Historic District was well attended, and supporters outnumbered those opposed. “Thirty-six people spoke. Only eight opposed. The hearing room was packed!” said one attendee. Evelyn Collier, the Landmarks Chairperson for Community Board Three, said of the proposed district: “Its streetscapes representing the design of 45 architects have remained virtually unchanged over the past 150 years. The designation… will ensure that these structures will remain for the use and pleasure of future generations.” Claudette Brady, one of the founders of the Bedford Stuyvesant Society for Historic Preservation, read a statement from the Crown Heights North Association: “Like Crown Heights North, Bedford Stuyvesant has been a victim to bank redlining, racism, loss of city services, and lots of bad press. Like us, they keep going, and in the process preserving a neighborhood that is now beginning to experience the joys and dangers of being noticed… The blocks in the proposed designation represents some of the finest intact architecture in the entire city. The people of the community… who have discovered the treasures of this neighborhood have worked tirelessly for this moment.” Brady also read a statement by Suzanne Spellen, our very own Montrose Morris: “I feel like a favorite aunt at a wedding, about to see the bride go down the aisle. I am very proud to be here today, testifying for the Bedford Historic District.” Local homeowners and local architects also spoke in support of the designation, while others expressed concern about the costs of repairs in a landmarked neighborhood and obtaining grants from the LPC. Pastor Johnny Ray Youngblood, who got some press last week for speaking out against landmarking, said the “unnecessary” rules and regulations of landmarking would work against longtime homeowners. He said that the “LPC assumed they could ramrod this designation down our throats” without enough community outreach for the proposal. Many community members who have worked years doing just that disagree. From the Facebook page of the Historic Districts Council, an advocate for historic neighborhoods in New York City: “Hearing today went well but LONG and unnecessarily stressful. Full report tomorrow but the short version is that our local partners in Bed-Stuy and Stapleton really got out the troops with articulate supporters of the two historic districts. The opposition also brought in some people but they were not nearly as well prepared. Still, accusations of exclusivity when the community advocates have spent the last four years talking to everyone that would listen were hard to take.” Regardless, landmarking seems in the near future for this deserving district. The LPC calendared the proposed historic district this summer.
Mark Your Calendars for the Bedford HD Public Hearing [Brownstoner]