Thursday, January 11, 2007
Sunnyside Landmarking Debate
More on the Sunnyside Gardens landmarking fight from Thomas Cogan's December 10th article in the Queens Gazette:
Just after Thanksgiving, officials of the Landmarks Preservation Commission led a meeting at the Sunnyside Senior Center suggesting that landmark status for Sunnyside Gardens was a near-certainty, and could perhaps be in effect before springtime. There were a few voices among the attendees who said that though they were Gardens residents and vitally concerned with preserving the neighborhood's integrity, they were against landmark status because it would encode bureaucratic restrictions that would hinder residents' attempts at home improvement. They did not carry that meeting, but at the Board 2 meeting, held also at Sunnyside Senior Center, they restated their objections - though not without eliciting replies from landmark proponents and drawing a "Boo!" or two.
At the November meeting, 47th Street resident Michael Meola said that trying to preserve a perfect mid-1920s atmosphere was foolish, and said so again at the Board 2 meeting. Meola, a resident of the Gardens for the past two years, said the alterations he made on his home were carefully thought out and executed. He said he sought the opinion of John Young of the Department of City Planning in Queens and eventually got a letter from Young expressing approval of the work that had been done.
But Laura Heim, an architect and Sunnyside Gardens resident, said that current restrictions, if they could be called that, do nothing to prevent questionable construction in the Gardens. Deck building, for instance, should require a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP, but decks have been built there without it, she said. She was dismissive of City Planning's actions in the matter. Her husband told Meola in front of the meeting that his renovations violate the spirit of Sunnyside Gardens.
But a man from 48th Street, who said his house is paid off, expressed contempt for LPC officials who would try to tell him how he should repair it. He added that the LPC was "just another city agency, and how do any of them merit our trust?" Board 2 Chairman Joseph Conley brought the debate to a close by saying that the Sunnyside Gardens landmark issue is obviously fervent, and would be taken up again at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, January 17, when not only officials from LPC but City Planning and the Department of Buildings also, would conduct a meeting - at Sunnyside Senior Center, of course.