September 3, 2015
The Honorable Rosie Mendez
NY City Council
237 1st Avenue, # 504
New York, NY 10003
Dear Councilmember Mendez:
I am writing on behalf of the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative to express our strong opposition to NY City Council Intro 775, which establishes strict time limits on NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission landmarking procedures.
Landmark designation requires formidable amounts of historical research and political and community outreach. Our city’s political environment is increasingly complicated, and corporate real estate interests are pushing back harder than ever against historic preservation using their immense wealth and influence. New Yorkers looking to save their historic buildings and streetscapes face greater challenges than ever, and the LPC must navigate these shoals with the limited resources of a small government agency.
As shown in the August 25 letter prepared by the Historic Districts Council et al (of which LESPI is a signator), many of the city’s most cherished historic districts would likely not have been designated under this legislation’s deadlines, including the St. Mark’s Historic District and Extension within the historic East Village / Lower East Side, as well as such “superstars” as Soho-Cast Iron and Greenwich Village Historic Districts. Going forward, this legislation will certainly deprive our communities with the new landmark buildings and districts residents want and deserve.
We support providing LPC with additional funding to expedite the process of historical research. And we are not opposed to establishing target time frames for designation, but any targets must be generous and flexible, to allow for districts with particularly challenging circumstances to move forward. Furthermore, there should not be any moratorium on reintroducing districts that do not pass, to allow for changing circumstances and political climates. Finally, any new legislation addressing the landmarking process should not only respond to the LPC’s input, but to the input of preservation and community advocacy groups, who understand the process of landmarking in NYC and the need for policies to facilitate rather than obstruct the process of protecting our future landmarks.
We respectfully urge the Council not to enact this legislation. Thank you,
Richard D. Moses
cc: The Hon. Melissa Mark-Viverito, NY City Council