Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Is Betts biased against living landmarks?

From the NY Times:

...every so often the commission receives an unusual request. Some have sought, for example, an evaluation of a cheerless little spot underneath a bridge, or a seemingly unremarkable house in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, which happened to be the childhood home of the television host Larry King. The commission has also been asked to review manhole covers, an aging brick wall, and a wooded grove in Kissena Park in Queens. None of these proposals were accepted.

“Trees die, unfortunately,” said Mary Beth Betts, the director of research for the commission.

That's an interesting reason for denying landmarking to Kissena Grove, considering there is currently a landmarked tree in Brooklyn and there also was the Weeping Beech tree in Flushing, which was likewise landmarked.  It did die, but its descendants have filled the void nicely.

A fellow preservationist put it this way: "Trees die, unfortunately? That's why there are several trees that are landmarked, and there are entire historic districts where trees CANNOT BE REMOVED because they're in an historic district (Douglas Manor/Fieldston/Riverdale/Stapleton).

It's not only the trees of Kissena Park that are important, it's that they are possibly the only remnant of a former commercial nursery from the most prominent family in Flushing that is still in existence ANYWHERE in NYC."

Buildings may burn down, too; maybe we shouldn't landmark those, either?

Photo from Bridge and Tunnel Club


Anonymous said...

How soon before the Bowne House is destroyed by neglect? Perhaps someone should slap the Landmarks Commission upside the head so they will get the Parks Department to act on the home of religious freedom in the USA.

Jerry Rotondi said...

I can't wait for Mary Beth Betts "demise"--
the day that she is dismissed from the LPC!

Having served 2 terms on the board of trustees
of the Queens Historical Society I can tell you this:

Repeated calls to the NYC Parks Dept. and the LPC--
regarding the questionable health of the landmark Weeping Beech tree (planted by Samuel Parson's in 1847)--appeared to have not received the degree of attention that they deserved.

Considering that all of the trees of this species in North America derive their lineage from this single tree--wouldn't you say that NYC didn't really
give a damn?

Anonymous said...

The LPC...
the NYC real estate industry's Lazy Partners In Crime!