After Outcry, Mayor Appoints Preservationist as New Chair of Landmarks Preservation Commission

Sarah Carroll, right, at the August unveiling of historic district street signs in Dumbo. Photo via NY Landmarks Preservation Commission

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    This morning, the City Council approved Sarah Carroll as the new chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, after months of complaints by preservationists the group was not doing its job.

    Carroll has worked at the LPC since 1994. She most recently served as the LPC’s executive director for the last four years, and has a master’s degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art & Design.

    Preservation groups and others were unanimous in their praise for her appointment.

    “I’m really happy that someone with your experience at the LPC, someone who started at the ground floor and worked her way up through the years, is being put forward for this position,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson at a June 20 Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections hearing on the matter.

    A total of 10 people spoke during the public hearing, all in favor. Those included Page Cowley of the preservation group Landmark West!, Simeon Bankoff of the Historic Districts Council and former LPC chairs Sherida Paulsen and Robert Tierney.

    “I can’t think of anybody who could be more qualified,” said Tierney. “She is uniquely qualified, in the true meaning of the word unique. There’s only one person with the kind of experience she has, the kind of temperament, the skill, the expertise, the intelligence — you name it.”

    In April, former chair Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan resigned from the position. Prior to her resignation, two dozen neighborhood groups signed a letter calling to replace her “with someone with a proven track record and expertise in historic preservation.”

    Under her tenure, the LPC became more permissive about major alterations to landmarked structures, and preservationists questioned the agency’s commitment to preserving the architectural heritage of New York City.

    In January, the agency proposed a sweeping set of changes in the rules governing its operations that many preservations said will decrease transparency at the LPC and allow unacceptable alterations, such as the demolition of historic windows in historic districts. Another hearing on the rules changes will happen on October 16.

    Fred Bland, a commissioner since 2008, has served as the interim chair of the commission for the last six months.

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