Friday, May 4, 2007

HDC's response to Gazette article

Letter sent a couple of minutes ago to the Western Queens Gazette:

To the Editor,

Having followed the Gazette's coverage of the Sunnyside landmarking decision for months, I am disappointed in the factual inaccuracies in the recent article by Thomas Cogan, to say nothing of its anti-preservation bias. To begin with, Mr. Cogan's article implied that the landmark designation would revoke the Special Planned Community Preservation District status of the area. The two designations are separate things overseen by separate city agencies, as Queens Director of City Planning, John Young, testified to at the Landmarks hearing. Any change to the Special Planned Community Preservation District would, by law, have to go through a full Uniform Land Use Procedure and the public would have multiple opportunities to comment. The statement "the commission wanted to exert hegemony at its offices on the ninth floor of the Municipal Building in Manhattan" is strangely hostile. The Landmarks Commission holds almost all its hearings in its offices, whether deliberating on properties in Tottenville, Fieldston, Brooklyn Heights or the Upper West Side. The only times in recent memory the LPC has held hearings outside of its offices has on two Upper East Side proposals for alterations. In those cases, knowing the overflowing public interest in them, the agency relocated to larger quarters nearby its downtown offices - not on the Upper East Side.

On the topic of the article's bias, why do the anti-landmark forces, who numbered 25 speakers, get three paragraphs of space detailing their claims when the proponents of landmarking, who numbered 61, only get one? Furthermore, Mr. Lehrer, a Sunnyside resident and opponent of landmarking, gets his professional accreditations but Dr. Jeffrey Kroessler, a Sunnyside resident, proponent of landmarking, and professor at CUNY's John Jay College, does not?

A lot of time and thought has gone into the City's decision to consider Sunnyside Gardens as a potential New York City historic district. Based on its merits, the neighborhood clearly deserves this recognition, as is evidenced by its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Even the opponents of landmarking do not dispute the worthiness of Sunnyside Gardens as a distinct place within the city that deserves to be recognized and protected. The reasonable complaints come from concerns about regulations - regulations which many neighborhoods throughout New York City have managed to live under and even more want. The majority of Sunnyside Gardens residents who have spoken out about the landmarking, have been in favor. This is an observable fact, one which your article does not portray or even allude to. The lack of balance and the obvious presence of bias in your article does no credit to your publication or your readers.


Simeon Bankoff
Executive Director
Historic Districts Council


Anonymous said...

A sniper with one well placed shot is but a start.

A full scale offensive is essential: the 4th estate, as it is constructed, must be changed.

I fully expect bias in the media (among other similiar topics) to be one of the major themes at the next big HDC summit.

Squarely facing topics like that will build them up to a major force in no time.

Anonymous said...

Why the hell is HDC allowing their preservation party to be co-sponsored by AKRF?

Anonymous said...

We the theme of the last one kind of gave me the impression it was how to learn to love the bomb and live with it.

We already have enough of that. We need know how to fight the bomb.

Anonymous said...

The Chronicle is just as bad.

Their editor lives in the Gardens and they came out with an editorial in favor of landmarking.

When the newspaper covered the hearing, the headline implied the hearing was equally divided, the photo showed the rump part of the crowd that was anti-landmark, the text was exactly reverse of the testimony running about 3/4 against landmarking.

The reporter was at the hearing. When later questioned as to why the flow of the story written differed from the reality of the hearing, no answer was given.

Anonymous said...

Nice work on the letter. An aggresive response to the hostile Queens press should have started a decade ago.

We would feel better, however, if we knew this was a real change in the direction of HDC, and not just a one time salvo for a community that one of it's board members lives in.

verdi said...

Thanks Simeon......for your "coup de grace" to a biased and out of touch newspaper. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

Only one or two from Sunnyside seems to have posted.

That is great, isn't it?

Let me guess, if they get landmarked, will they become self satisfied and smug and turn their backs on everyone else?

So maybe they shouldn't just to have 'em do it all over again.