Sign Petition to Save Brooklyn Heights Promenade

Mayor de Blasio recently announced that tearing down the landmarked Brooklyn Heights Promenade--and replacing it with a six lane highway carrying approximately 153,000 vehicles a day--is his preferred option for allowing replacement of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE). We join the Brooklyn Heights Association and area residents to oppose this option, which would decimate the City’s oldest historic district. The neighborhood is also a National Historic Landmark, the country’s highest landmark honor.

Faced with a public outcry, the Mayor later said he would consider another option. But destroying the landmarked Promenade, threatening fragile 150 year old buildings, and scattering residents should never have been an option.
A citizens group, “Save the” is urging people to write elected officials, sign a petition and spread awareness of the threat. They are also working to develop an alternative to create temporary traffic lanes beneath the existing highway while it undergoes reconstruction . Attorney Otis Pearsall, who helped obtain the landmark designation of Brooklyn Heights in 1965, called the area “simply the finest microcosm of early New York.” He said the Mayor’s vision would create “incessant noise, pollution and other environmental hazards, collapsing real estate values, and eviscerating its quality of life and social fabric.”
The City’s Department of Transportation announced in 2016 that the BQE, built in the 1940s and 50s, needs repair and replacement. The Promenade sits above the BQE. Several options have been outlined for the $1.7 billion project and the final selection is scheduled for 2019. The Mayor caught people by surprise in announcing his choice before the process is complete.
Vote No! on Charter Revision Ballot Questions 2 and 3

Community Boards at Risk! 

We are urging a NO vote on two ballot questions on November 6. They could weaken Community Boards and hamper the ability of residents to have a say in how their neighborhoods change and develop.

VOTE NO on November 6

Proposal 2 would create a “Civic Engagement Commission.” The Commission would be charged with providing “resources, assistance and training related to land use and other matters to Community Boards,” but the Mayor would appoint the majority of members and select the executive director. Community Boards should have sufficient budgets to hire independent experts of their choosing. They should not be dependent on a mayoral dominated Commission, especially when they are reviewing land use proposals, such as neighborhood upzonings, that the City is initiating. 

Proposal 3 would establish term limits for Community Board members. Land use, planning, and zoning are extremely complicated. Boards can’t afford to lose seasoned members who have earned valuable expertise. As Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer puts it: “If we wipe out all of New York City’s Community Boards’ knowledge every eight years, those boards are going to get steamrolled by the developers and their lawyers.”
Proposal 2 would also allow the Mayor to “assign relevant powers and duties of certain other City agencies to the Commission.” That’s a lot of power added to extensive powers the Mayor already holds. If the Council or public objected, they couldn’t stop any transfer of power because it is in the Charter.

However well-intentioned the Mayor’s Charter Commission may have been, this is not good government. Vote NO on ballots 2 and 3.
Conservancy Supports LPC Rules Revision

After previously stating that we could not support the amendments to the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s (LPC) Rules that were proposed in March, the Conservancy was pleased to testify in favor of a much improved version of the amendments at public hearing held on October 16th. The first version of the amendments that was released last March was controversial and elicited outcry from the City’s preservation advocates, including the Conservancy. LPC released a revised version of the Rules amendments in July and wisely allowed additional public comment on the revisions at the October hearing. 

The Conservancy found the revised version of the Rules amendments to be appropriately scaled back in some areas and modified in others. Many other parties expressed similar sentiments in their public hearing testimony. We were pleased to find that the revisions incorporated many of the Conservancy’s original suggestions for changes. We explained that we do continue to have concerns about making the new amendments user-friendly for the general public and how LPC staff will be trained in their implementation. 

LPC did not hold a final vote to adopt the Rules amendments at the October 16 hearing. Hopefully the additional testimony the Conservancy and other members of the public provided will be taken into account and lead to even more refined Rules text and a smooth transition to these new standards. A date for LPC’s final vote has yet to be calendared.

Conservancy President Peg Breen (left) applauds Sarah Carroll (next to Peg) at reception.
Citywide Announcement
Conservancy Welcomes New Landmarks Preservation Chair

The Conservancy hosted a reception for Sarah Carroll , newly appointed Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) at the Conservancy office on October 25. Carroll told some 60 guests that she always wanted to work at the Landmarks Commission and appreciated the special views it has given her of the City.

Conservancy President Peg Breen said “no one has been better prepared to Chair the LPC,” citing Sarah’s 20-year tenure as a Commission staffer. Carroll most recently was the LPC’s Executive Director. She received a 2012 Sloan Public Service Award , which recognizes outstanding civil servants.

Breen also told the group that The Conservancy, the Municipal Art Society and Historic Districts Council had written Mayor de Blasio after the April resignation of Meenakshi Srinivasan, urging him to appoint a Chair with a preservation background. “But we almost fell over when he did.”

Conservancy Chair Michael Braner, Conservancy Advisory Board Member and former LPC Chair Robert Tierney, Brooklyn Heights Preservationists Otis and Nancy Pearsall were among the well-wishers.   
Eltingville, Staten Island
Support Our Kickstarter Campaign for Olmsted House

A heartfelt  THANK YOU  to the generous backers who have pledged over $7,600 to our Kickstarter Campaign. This money will go to stabilize the Staten Island home of the father of American landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted The farmhouse served as Olmsted’s early residence from 1848 until 1854. His work there greatly influenced his later designs of Central and Prospect Parks in New York City and other parks and gardens across the country. You have helped us reach  47%  of our goal of  $16,000  in our first nine days of asking,  but we still have a way to go

This  Kickstarter Campaign  is the catalyst to stabilize the building so that ultimately the City's Parks Department and a local community group can complete the restoration and adapt the building for use as an educational center, but we need  you  to join us to save this national treasure. Together we can do this!

Mystery Landmark
Did You Identify This Mystery Landmark?

It's the Fort Totten Officer's Club in Bayside, Queens. Designated a City Landmark in 1974 and built about 1870 as a one-story building. It was enlarged in 1887 replicating a medieval castle featuring a crenellated roofline. The building is part of the Fort Totten Historic District that was once part of the defense system of New York Harbor. The building is now home to the Bayside Historical Society

The building was correctly identified by Mitchell Paluszek and his favorite landmark besides Grand Central Terminal is the Fuller Building in Manhattan at Madison Avenue and 57th Street.
This month’s Landmark News is sponsored by   Stribling and Associates
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