Two dozen neighborhood groups have signed onto a letter calling for the replacement of the Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan and halting the proposed rules changes being considered in a public hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Commission today.
The March 12 letter was drafted by Human-scale NYC, a coalition of community groups and civic organizations focused on planning, development, public space and preservation issues in all five boroughs. It was addressed to Speaker Corey Johnson, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Upper East Side Manhattan Council Member Ben Kallos. The letter says:
We also request each of you and the City Council to ask the Mayor to replace the current Chair with someone with a proven track record and expertise in historic preservation. We demand a qualified Chair who will demonstrate integrity and uphold the spirit, purpose, intent, and letter of the Landmarks Law rather than serve the interests of big real estate.
Under the current chair, the Landmarks Preservation Commission undermines the Landmarks Law it is charged with upholding, and appears to “operate as if it were entirely under the control of the real estate industry,” according to the letter. The group lists 11 examples of agency hostility to preservation and seven examples of “inappropriate alterations” the LPC allowed in historic districts. (Four are in Brooklyn, including the Dime Savings Bank at 9 Dekalb Avenue and Domino Sugar Refinery.)
The letter from Human-scale NYC was first reported by the New York History Blog, a publication run by Peter Feinman, founder and president of the nonprofit educational organization Institute of History, Archaeology and Education.
Preservationists outraged by recent LPC decisions have complained the group is not doing its job. Preservationists say the proposed rules changes will decrease transparency at the LPC and allow unacceptable alterations, such as the demolition of historic windows in historic districts.
The 24 local groups who signed the letter include Artists Studio Affordability Project, Audubon Park Alliance, Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund, Central Park West Association, Central Village Block Association, Chelsea Reform Democratic Club, Committee for Environmentally Responsible Development, East Harlem Preservation, Inwood Preservation, Lower East Side Dwellers, Moving Forward Unidos, Neighbors for the Preservation of 158th Street, Riverside Edgecombe Neighborhood Association, Save Central Park, Save Inwood Library, Tribeca Trust, 29th Street Association, Queens Preservation Council, Riverside Oval Association, Union Square Community Coalition Board, Save Chelsea, West Fifties Neighborhood Association, and West Village Committee.
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