Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Thursday, February 11, 2010

NY Post Totally Inaccurate on Slope Expansion

The New York Post published an article today about our project to expand the Park Slope Historic District. We're right under an article entitled "Hairy Situation" about John Travolta's hair:

The article contained inaccuracies, to say the least... Brownstoner also reposted it, eliciting the usual mix in the comments section of gross misinformation and rare insight.

The first inaccuracy in the Post article is that it will take 10 years to complete this project. If only! At our current rate, it will be more like 20 years.

Next, civic organizations like the Park Slope Civic Council only submit a "Request for Evaluation" to the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission. Basically, the "civic" (as the Post calls groups like ours) proposes a "study area" for the LPC to review. The LPC eventually responds to the RFE, and sometimes the response takes the form of a proposal for a new Historic District, or an extension of an existing Historic District. The final proposal for a new district or an extension to an existing district comes from the LPC, not from the "civic".

Why did the Park Slope Civic Council include all Park Slope in its RFE? We realize that not every building is landmark-worthy, nor do we expect that every building will ultimately be included in the Park Slope Historic District. But those decisions are for the LPC to make, not us. We are advocates for Park Slope, not architectural historians, and we would be remiss if we did not advocate for the entire neighborhood. Who are we to say that some blocks should be included, and some not? We must let the LPC decide that.

Next, the Post article inaccurately cites an initial review phase of 1,350 buildings, stretching from Flatbush Avenue to 15th Street. If only! That was our initial proposal for phase 1, which was immediately rejected by the LPC as being too large. The compromise phase 1, as documented on this blog, comprises under 800 buildings from about Union Street to 15th Street.

Finally, to return to the time span for this project: our initial phasing encompassed 3 phases, with an estimated project duration of 10 years. Since our first phase had to be cut in half to become manageable by the LPC, we now project perhaps six phases stretching over 20 years. We are in this for the long haul! But, "it's dogged as does it" and one has to start someplace. The point is to start, and then to keep at it. If anyone knows how to speed up the process, let us know.

So much for the Post article. We'll save the amazingly misinformed Brownstoner comments section for another day. We intend to maintain this blog for the duration of this project, so we will need a lot of new material. Responding to the 'Stoner commenters' misconceptions about this project should keep us going for a long time.

1 comment:

PSHomeowner said...

The Brownstoner’s summary of the inaccurate Post article about the proposed expansion of the Park Slope Historic District was followed by comments that contained several misconceptions.

• Extending the boundaries of the historic district is the only way to protect Park Slope from irresponsible development.
• The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission allows reasonable and prohibits inappropriate alterations to buildings.
• Any building modifications that are made before a Historic District designation is approved are grandfathered by the LPC.
• A consequence of landmark designation is that the design of any new and modifications to existing buildings will contribute to and not adversely affect the appearance of the neighborhood.
• Inclusion in the Historic District protects building and apartment owners from the devaluation of their property that will occur when an unsightly structure is erected or a hideous remodeling is made near or next to them.

Take a look at some of the ugly buildings and alterations that have appeared in Park Slope and neighboring communities in recent years. Many have had an adverse effect on the appearance of and property values on many blocks.

Forty years ago, my wife and I were among a group of people who began moving to Park Slope, in large part because of its handsome old townhouses and the beauty of its tree lined streets. At that time, the neighborhood was deteriorating because homeowners were leaving the neighborhood and buildings were being abandoned. The attractive appearance of the historic neighborhood that many of us worked over the years to improve is once again under assault. This time, because of irresponsible development, Park Slope is in danger of becoming an unattractive mess. Who wants to live next or near to the increasing number of eyesores that are springing up around us? I don’t, which is why I support a reasonable expansion of the Park Slope Historic District.