Saturday, February 17, 2007

Western Queens Dems Oppose Sunnyside Landmarking

By Adam Pincus, Times Ledger

In a sign of growing opposition to a proposal to landmark Sunnyside Gardens, a number of Democratic political leaders from the area have spoken out publicly on the plan.

John Smyth, Democratic district leader for the 37th Assembly District, said the city Landmarks Preservation Commission should not set a date for the proposal, a bureaucratic move that can signal the plan will ultimately be approved.

"I think the best solution would be for Landmarks not to calendar it," he said in a telephone interview Monday. He was elected to the district leader seat formerly held by the late Queens County Democratic Chairman Thomas Manton in September.

He was one of about 70 people who attended a meeting at the Sunnyside Reformed Church at 48-03 Skillman Ave. in Sunnyside Gardens, organized by a loose group of residents opposed to creating a historic district in Sunnyside Gardens, which contains about 600 buildings. The group is calling itself the Preserve Sunnyside Gardens Coalition.

State Sen. George Onorato (D-Long Island City), though not directly involved in the process, also sent a letter critical of the plan to Landmarks Commission Chairman Robert Tierney.

"I have come to believe that the landmarked historic district status is inappropriate for this community," he said.

Another Democratic district leader from the area, Deirdre Feerick, said although she supported landmarking in general, she opposed it in Sunnyside Gardens.

The situation could be difficult for City Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside), who must navigate between voters supporting and opposing the designation.

He has been holding small meetings with residents of the proposed district in his office and area homes, residents said.

Although Landmarks can designate the area a historic district, ultimately the decision must be voted on by the Council.

Organizers of the meeting, including longtime Gardens residents and authors Judith Sloan and Warren Lehrer, said they were not opposed to preservation, but did not want the additional layer of bureaucracy that would come with landmarking.

"Lets see how we can fix the current situation instead of going to Big Daddy or Big Brother," Sloan said.

The Landmarks Commission was considering a designation for about 600 buildings in Sunnyside Gardens as an historic district, which would create greater regulation as a means of preserving the area.

The third public meeting sponsored by Community Board 2 over the past three months to discuss landmarking was scheduled for Feb. 27 at the Sunnyside Community Services at 43-31 39th St. where representatives from the city departments of Buildings, City Planning and Landmarks were expected to attend.

Landmarks, which said in December that it would likely calendar the proposal by early February, has not set a date for the hearing, spokeswoman Elisabeth de Bourbon said.


Anonymous said...

May we invite the parties involved to meet with people that live in landmark districts and explain why those people made a mistake?

Go ahead, guys, you stuck your neck out this time. Tell people that live in landmarked areas the same crap you tell your constituents.

Explain to the people in your districts why you want to take away their property values by taking away landmark status.

Anonymous said...

Is this the same George Onorato that funded the folks in Dutch Kills on a wine tasteing junket in the Hamptons after they agreed to upzone their neighborhood?

I may be wrong ... but, wait a minute, let me think ... something about the bricklayers union in his background?

Anonymous said...

State Sen. George Onorato (D-Long Island City), though not directly involved in the process, also sent a letter critical of the plan to Landmarks Commission Chairman Robert Tierney.

"I have come to believe that the landmarked historic district status is inappropriate for this community," he said.

Another Democratic district leader from the area, Deirdre Feerick, said although she supported landmarking in general, she opposed it in Sunnyside Gardens.


This is typical of newspaper reporting. Doesn't anyone ask any questions as to why they 'believe in landmarking but not for the gardens', or why they 'believe' its not good for the community.

Of course, if they don't then they let someone else fill in the blank.

Lets just say they value the developers's interests over their constituents.

Now let them provide some real answers, or carry around that baggage until they do.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, I challenge you to go over to old Astoria with a group of kids from the Variety Club, and explain to them what is happening is good.

Explain to them the legacy they are leaving that generation.

Anonymous said...

This is appalling. The bozos will make western Queens the laughing stock of New York.

Can cooler heads intervene and stop these people from shooting themselves in the foot?

Anonymous said...

The folks in Sunnyside Gardens followed the book. Once again, the preservation community is not equal to the task facing it.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it interesting the same folks who are opposed to landmark designation as another layer of bureaucracy have approached the "best in bureaucracy"-the Democratic Machine to help their cause and come out against landmarking. I would love to hear the Machine's reasons as to why landmarkng is inapproriate for this community. Where do they see landmarking is appropriate?

Anonymous said...

Don't bash the politicians. This garbage was allowed to grow because the city-wide preservation groups regarded the outer boroughs with neglect. Afterall, our ignorance assured their portion would include a generous measure that should have gone to Queens.

They did nothing to stop ideas like this from festering when they should have been cauterized 20 years ago with a vigorous public education program.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we should bash them - they are willfully misleading people.

Why should Queensites be second class all the time? Everyone knows that landmark designation gives many advantages and (not among the least) a substantial increase in property values. Take a look at places that are landmarked – Brooklyn Heights, the Upper East Side, etc. Who lives in those places? Not two bit party hacks, that’s for sure.

It is in excusable for officials to maliciously take advantage of people that have placed their trust in them. The people will wake up, they always do, and when they do, look out!

The machine is playing a very dangerous game with the people of Queens. They had better beware because their clumsiness will do nothing but arouse a slumbering giant. Credibility and trust that were earned over generations, can be lost in a season. And you can put your money on that!

Anonymous said...

Manton (the Vampire) has already bitten his (now serving) politicos in Western Queens. They will continue to suck the blood from from their constituents though he is long gone) particularly in Sunnyside Gardens. LPC should calendar the Gardens immediately for designation! Anyone who supports delay is a traitor using his office to screw the very residents he should be protecting!

Anonymous said...

Who is Deirdre Feerick?

What are her credentials on preservation?

What experience has she in community planning?

Why does the newspaper care what she says?

Why is anything she says important?

Anonymous said...

That is easy. She is some minor functionary in the machine. That is why her 'opinions' are important ... I guess. Come on, Pinkus, whattya think we are, a bunch of morons?

Anonymous said...

Queens residents have no one to correct the "conditions" that everyone in Sunnyside seem to believe need to be fixed.
Now, rather than turn to an agency that can actually do something, some Sunnysiders want to do it themselves--in the name of self-reliance and freedom from big brother. Come on.
Who are they fooling? Surely not the speculators who want to add third floors to their abodes to "help solve" the housing crisis.

Anonymous said...

Tom Manton's pond scum floats to the top once again!

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the "Year of The Pig".

Will, all of you Western Queens politicos, please kindly line up in size places!

Anonymous said...

Hey Pincus, why don't you make yourself useful on Tuesday? Call Historic Districts Council and speak to Simeon Bankoff.

He will suggest a community that is landmarked (there are dozens.)

Go to that community and mention those comments that the politicians are using to mislead local people on landmarking. Get the reaction from those people actually living in a landmarked districts. Discuss stuff like quality of life and property values. Discuss the profile of people living in those districts.

For real fun, take along Georgie and Diedre.

Anonymous said...

News Flash: The Landmarks Preservation Commission has announced that it will "calendar" Sunnyside Gardens on March 6th. This means the Commission is placing this neighborhood on its immediate agenda for a Public Hearing to decide whether to designate Sunnyside Gardens as a New York City Historic District.

Now is the time to send an e-mail supporting this Queens neighborhood, to be counted before the Landmarks Commission's Public Hearing. Be as brief and to the point as you like, for example, [a] I encourage the LPC to designate Sunnyside Gardens; [b] My neighbors and I are in favor of the designation of Sunnyside Gardens and the other historic neighborhoods in Queens; [c] Please add my support in the matter of naming Sunnyside Gardens as a NYC Historic District, to pave the way for the preservation and appreciation of our most fragile architectural treasures in the outer boroughs.

Send your e-mail message to these addresses:,,,,,,,,,

Anonymous said...

Opulently I agree but I dream the collection should acquire more info then it has.