Friday, January 26, 2007

Inside Tierney's World

The New York Times today profiles Robert Tierney, Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission:

Distinguishing the Remarkable From the Merely Old

Some excerpts:

"Mr. Tierney was appointed commission chairman by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2003 despite his lack of a formal education in architecture or urban planning."

"Economic viability, he notes, has to be factored into landmark decisions."

The Landmarks Preservation Commission has been working overtime over the last few months to designate buildings in Crown Heights.

Doesn't the George and Susan B. Elkins House look like any of a few hundred houses left here in Queens? Maybe the key is to allow all but one to be obliterated, then LPC will landmark it.

Yes, Crown Heights North would make a nice historic district. So would "the finely detailed mansions, churches and other structures built during the 19th and 20th centuries" in Richmond Hill.

It's a proven fact that residential property values increase with designation. So is there a plan to gentrify this part of Brooklyn at the expense of landmark-worthy properties of Queens?


Anonymous said...

"Bobble- head -Bob" (Tierney) is always nodding in agreement with Mayor Mike's views and eager to follow his orders, as are most of LPC's commissioners and staff! Some of those non-descript houses in Brooklyn are landmark worthy only because they're "survivors" ( no particularlarly important pedigree, although charming). How about pulling out all the stops to save St. Saviour's Church (which boasts the distinction of having been designed by world renown architect Richard Upjohn. He's the architect of Trinity Church on Wall St.)??? I guess the prevailing attitude is "DROP DEAD QUEENS!"

Anonymous said...

FYI: Mayor Bloomberg's power over LPC lies in the fact that about 9 of the 11 commissioners are serving on a per diem basis at the LPC. They want to hold onto their jobs (prestigious although non-paying). If they vote "the wrong way", Mayor Mike will fire them! Mr. Mike is actually breaking NYC law because he's required to replace these 9 commissioners whose terms have expired. That's why he is presently being sued (I believe he was served on about 1/9/07). It's a step!

Anonymous said...

That is a good point, but there is something else that his happening here, too.

The white ethnics in Queens starting to raise a stink on the culture of discrimination that seems to have crept into the community preservation movement. If you have access to power and in the right neighborhood, you will get something important saved.

A poorer area, well, like the tree falling in the forest, no one will hear you cry.

By going into minority neighborhoods (that are soon to gentrify), you undercut this argument. By contrast, in organizing minority people as a powerful force in favor of development in Queens, you are not only fighting the developers and politicians and media, but also minorities.

In other words, you are by yourself with no hint of success.

This contrast between Brooklyn and Queens also tells us different fates await us.

Gentrification is in the cards for much of Bed-Stuy, as is currently happening in Harlem and upper Manhattan.

For our borough?

For the 20th century we were the showcase for planned communities and model housing for the nation. For the 21st century, we will become the byline for the brutal housing and the urban nightmare depicted in every science fiction novel we read.

Anonymous said...

It is a fact. The preservation community feels that Tierney and LPC are not looking after their interests and has lost their confidence.

It is funny. If the African-American community felt that someone was not looking after their interests, and lost their confidence, would the NYT portray them with a favorable light?

Anonymous said...

Brooklyn is ‘slightly’ ahead of Queens. It is not under the crushing suffocating political world we live in (community activists in this borough know first hand just a hint of what people have experienced under tyrannies through history) and, without any street smart, tough spirit (a ‘Queens street fighter’ is an oxymoron like ‘military intelligence’) there is no chance for Queens to organize borough wide. Within a community, any attempt at something like this is easily put down by dollops of ice cream money (5th columnists ready to take on their neighbors is a feature too familiar with us veterans) and the legendary discipline of the politico-media complex all but assures the public will either get thrown off balance with misinformation, or get boldfaced lies with the assurance that the truth will never make it to enough people to make a difference.

Anonymous said...

I like that about the fifth columnists and the boldfaced misinformation in the press.

I now understand what you mean after reading what happened to Sunnyside Gardens this week.

Thank God for this website.