New York City Hall
Dueling Charter Revision Commissions Could Have Major Impacts On Your Neighborhood - Vote No in November

The New York City Charter may sound like a snooze. But it sets out how City government is organized and what powers and obligations the City has. Two separate charter revision commissions are trying to amend it.

Mayor de Blasio appointed his commission to look into campaign reform and encouraging more voter participation in elections. This commission produced three proposals that will be on the November ballot. We are asking you to VOTE NO! on two of them because they would dilute the power of Community Boards. See our reasons below.

We testified yesterday at a hearing held by the second commission, initiated by the City Council, which has members appointed by the Speaker, Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller and the Borough Presidents. This commission has a broader mandate. So our testimony touched upon the makeup of the City Landmarks Preservation Commission and eliminating “loopholes” that some developers use to achieve "supertall" buildings. 

Vote No! on the 2018 Charter Revision Ballot Questions

The New York City Charter Revision Commission voted to approve three ballot questions for the voters to consider in November.  

We oppose these two proposals. 

PROPOSAL:  Establish a Civic Engagement Commission whose mission includes expanding language access at polling sites, developing a citywide participatory budgeting program and supporting and partnering with community organizations in their civic engagement efforts. VOTE NO!

We want: A forum for civic engagement that is not under mayoral control. 

PROPOSAL : Establish term limits on Community Board members and standardize the appointment process to make the Boards more representative of their communities. Boards would also receive additional resources, particularly in urban planning. VOTE NO!

 We want: Community Boards to retain their institutional memory of promises made and whether they were kept, instead of forcing out experienced members. Community Boards should have resources to retain independent consultants, not rely on the Mayor’s Commission. 
Our Recommendations for the 2019 Charter Revision

-Set height limits for “voids” that artificially raise building heights. (like the yellow areas seen in the photo rendering)

-Establish a transparent pre-planning process for Community Boards to review proposed developments at the earliest stages of planning. 

-Have the Landmarks Preservation Commission re-establish jurisdiction over City-owned landmarks and compel their upkeep.

-Require at least one Landmarks Commissioner to have a preservation background.

These are just some of the recommendations the Conservancy endorsed in testimony yesterday before the City Charter Revision Commission 2019, the second such commission looking at changes to how the City functions.

Several of our recommendations echo complaints from residents throughout the City concerned about loopholes in the Zoning Resolution that allow developers to construct out-of-scale buildings that threaten neighborhood character. We also want City agencies to reject other workarounds, such as gerrymandered and sculpted zoning lots, and buildings on stilts.

We urged that the Landmarks Preservation Commission remain an independent agency. And we asked that LPC Commissioners receive payment for their work and receive prompt reappointments. Now, nearly all of the Commissioners are serving on expired terms. 

The Charter Revision Commission 2019 will review these and other recommendations, before forming ballot items for the November 2019 election.  
Merchant's House Museum - East Village
Application Rejected for 8-Story Hotel Near Historic Landmark

After opposition from the Conservancy and a host of colleagues, neighbors, and elected officials, the City Council rejected a developer’s zoning application for an 8-story hotel adjacent to the landmarked Merchant’s House Museum in the East Village. Prior to the Council vote on September 26, the City Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises heard public testimony in a packed session, leading the guards to remark that they had never seen such a large group attend a subcommittee hearing. 

The Conservancy testified in opposition ( read testimony here ) because the developer’s proposed monitoring during construction would only be an alert to damage as it happened to the fragile historic fabric of the 1832 interiors and exterior. It would not protect the building. The developers could still move forward without the rezoning, but negotiations are underway to allow the hotel project on another nearby site that the developers own.
Citywide Announcement
Conservancy Welcomes New Landmarks Preservation Chair

The Conservancy welcomed the Mayor’s appointment of Sarah Carroll ( Above Photo by Nathan Haselby ) a s Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) and testified in support of her nomination at a City Council hearing on September 20. ( read testimony here )

Carroll, is currently the Executive Director of LPC. A longtime LPC staffer, she received a 2012 Sloan Public Service Award , which recognizes outstanding civil servants.

The Conservancy and colleague groups had written Mayor de Blasio after the April resignation of Meenakshi Srinivasan, urging him to appoint a Chair with a preservation background. We are very pleased that he did.  
Tourist In Your Own Town
Visit the Beautiful Temple Emanu-El on Fifth Avenue

Temple Emanu-El at One East 65th Street and Fifth Avenue is widely admired as the largest, and one of the most beautiful synagogues in the world. It is a massive limestone building completed in 1929 for Emanu-El, the City's oldest Reform Jewish congregation (1845) that merged with the Beth-El congregation in 1927.

Designed by Robert D. Kohn, Charles Butler, and Clarence Stein, in association with Mayers, Murray & Phillip, the building combines Byzantine and early Romanesque form with Moorish and Art Deco style.

Hildreth Meière was commissioned to design the mosaics that adorn the areas on which the main decorative treatment of the sanctuary was focused — the ark and bimah.

Plan Your Visit -

Visitors are welcome to tour Temple Emanu-El from 10 AM to 4:30 PM, Sunday through Thursday — except in the occurrence of a holiday or funeral service. Call the office at (212) 744-1400 prior to your arrival to make certain of no unforeseen closings.

Mystery Landmark
Did You Identify This Mystery Landmark?

Hildreth Meière was asked to design decoration for the lobby ceiling at the AT&T Long Distance Building (also known as 32 Avenue of the Americas) that would symbolize the purpose of the building as a vital center of international communication. Meière designed four neo-classically influenced individual Art Deco figures personifying Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia around the rim of the ceiling. ( The tiger mosaic shown is from the Asia group .) These continents are linked to two female messengers, an eagle, and a condor in the center through gold lines that represent the telephone and wireless. A rich border reminiscent of Native American quillwork completes the composition.

In 1991, The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the lobby a city landmark .

The building was correctly identified by Mitchell Grubler and his favorite landmark is the iconic Empire State Building in Midtown Manhattan.
This month’s Landmark News is sponsored by   Stribling and Associates
This newsletter is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.  | Find us on   Facebook   &   Twitter  | Watch us on   YouTube
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