State Historic Preservation Office Not Contacted Regarding Eligibility to National Register of Historic Places
Council Member James Calls for Halt to any Seizure of Property
(Brooklyn, NY) - May 23, 2007, Council Member James has learned today that the New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) had never made a determination on the eligibility of the Duffield Street Houses to the National Register of Historic Places, the country's official list of historic properties. Not only has the agency not issued an official determination (according to their records), but agency staff was never consulted about the possibility of the buildings being eligible nor did it seem that the agency was ever consulted about the larger Downtown Brooklyn Plan.
The only contact that SHPO had with AKRF, the consulting firm who wrote the report on Duffield Street, regarding this project was an information request about whether the state agency had anything existing in their files about the Duffield Street houses. SHPO also reported that the agency was in recent receipt of a form letter from AKRF thanking them for their help in researching the properties & enclosing a copy of the Executive Summary of the Research Report.
"This is a major omission on the part of the City and their consultants. The basis of the Research Report is that these buildings should not be protected because they are not eligible for any kind of historic recognition - a point that the majority of the peer reviewers disputed. That the government agency who is tasked to make this exact determination was not even consulted seems negligent at best," said Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director of the Historic Districts Council.
"This process, as it has been followed by the Administration and its paid consultants, essentially seeks to undermine federal environmental protection laws, such as the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Transportation Act of 1966 and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969; all of which mandate that consideration of the effect of government actions on historic resources. All proceedings should be halted immediately in light of this disturbing revelation," said Council Member Letitia James.
"Once again, it has been demonstrated that AKRF has failed to make an honest assessment of the historical significance of the Duffield St. homes. This is further evidence that the City must re-open the environmental review process and permit meaningful public comment," said Jennifer Levy, Director of the Housing Unit, South Brooklyn Legal Services.
Photo of Ms. James from NY Times