Thursday, March 1, 2007

Don't Landmark Sunnyside

A copy of the following letter was received by the Queens Gazette:

Commissioner Robert B. Tierney
Chair New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007

Dear Chairman Tierney:

I am writing with regard to the proposal currently under consideration by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate Sunnyside Gardens in Queens as a Landmarked Historic District. After having heard from many of my constituents regarding this proposal, including approximately 400 homeowner families who have banded together as an organization known as "Preserve Sunnyside Gardens," I have come to believe that landmarked historic district status is inappropriate for this community.

Designating Sunnyside Gardens as a landmarked historic district could impose onerous rules and regulations on the private homes in the neighborhood and create undue burdens for the homeowners in the area with regard to the use and appearance of their own homes. I am sure you are aware that Sunnyside Gardens is already a special Planned Community Preservation District governed by special zoning rules designed to protect the open common green spaces and limit certain building renovations inappropriate to the overall character of the neighborhood. Landmarking Sunnyside Gardens would rescind these zoning rules, a step that my constituents appear to oppose.

It is my understanding that the current proposal to landmark Sunnyside Gardens began in part as a response to a lack of enforcement of the special preservation zoning already in place in this community. Rather than designating the community as a landmarked historic district, perhaps greater effort should first be put into enforcing existing zoning rules. Regardless of where Sunnyside Gardens residents all stand on the landmarking issue, I am certain that they all share a common desire to preserve the unique character of their neighborhood. They may just disagree on the means to achieve this common goal.

I appreciate your attention to this matter, and look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your consideration of my concerns.

George Onorato
State Senator, 12th District


Anonymous said...

Wow this is a mistake! George 'the Brick-layer' Onorato destroyed the historic structure of Old Astoria, Norwood Gardens, and Steinway and now wants to do this to Sunnyside.

Sorry, George, but the world has moved on.

Besides, what will you constituents say when they discover your policies have hurt their property values.

Time to retire, old boy!

Anonymous said...

Onorato! What can you expect! Time to scrape him off our boots!

Anonymous said...

Actually, I really don't want my property values to go up.
I'm about to retire or at least I was planning to, and I will be on a fixed income soon so when my property value goes up my taxes will go up. I don't want to be pushed out of the neighborhood at 65 years old.

I am beginning to change my mind about all of this landmarking because it seems that the only positive that kept being repeated by the Landmarks Commissioner was that the property value would go up and the neighborhood would be preserved for the city. I just wanted a place to live.

georgetheatheist said...

Senator Onorato, is their any truth to the rumor that you "coif" your hair with a trowel? Does the missus Athena blow dry it?

Anonymous said...

If you're 65 years old (as I am) you should be applying for up to a 50% real estate tax decrease that you're entitled to.

Are you really retired and 65? Or are you posing as such, making anti-landmark statements?


Unknown said...

Sen. Onorato--Thank you for support against landmarking Sunnyside Gardens. The Gardens have been beautiful for decades without any help from a Landmarks.

The embarrassingly juvenile responses to your letter are indicative of pro-Landmarks supporters who have been recently and heavily challenged by those of us who are against Landmarks. One responder said "...the world has moved on" but the Landmarks Commission will impose wood-framed windows among other archaic constraints. Hmmm indeed.

Anonymous said...

Funny to hear someone comment "the world has moved on" in defense of an action that would roll our community aesthetic back to the 1920's. I am a homeowner and resident in Sunnyside Gardens, and I oppose landmarking. I love the community and the people. I love the gardens, and the sense of neighborliness. Personally I'm sick of the idea that we should be doing all we can to "boost property values". That's a concern for people who want to build investment properties, not people who want to build communities. The world *has* moved on, and as much as I'm committed to keeping Sunnyside Gardens a nice place to live, I have no interest in shunning architectural progress and spending large amounts of money rolling back to a 1920's look. Anyone who does has clearly misunderstood what the initial founders of the neighborhood were trying to accomplish.

Anonymous said...

Charles Knipe, I must say you have it incorrect. The Landmarks Comission will not force anyone to roll back to the 1920's look & restore your house. If you are planning to make an alteration, the LPC will recommend what would be most historically sensitive to the streetscape. If a part of your home's exterior is the more significant architectural feature & you plan on altering that, LPC will be likely to prevent that particular change. History can coexist with our 21st century mode of life. For example, if you are proposing to replace your windows, there are historical-looking windows that are storm resistant. There are even grants to accomplish it! Landmarking works in your favor.

Those who really care about the community will not want their neighbor erecting a hideous addition that will stick out like a sore thumb, or stucco over the bricks when just about every house is uniform. Sunnyside Gardens is a prime model of urban planning with cohesive features that should not go ignored.

West 56th St in Midtown Manhattan had rare gilded age Beaux Art townhouses. That was part of a special planned community preservation district, like Sunnyside Gardens already has. That did not prevent owners from selling to a developer, who in turn demolished it in its entirety. The laws were not enforced properly. It's a major loss for the city. Historic district status is the ultimate protection. Sunnyside Gardens deserves landmarking to the fullest extent! Let's maintain the pride (architecture & community feel) for current and future generations.

Do not listen to Onorato. He can't be trusted, & is generally anti-landmarking. His record proves that he degraded the character of Old Astoria & other Queens communities.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Senator Onorato - Finally a elected offical with guts to come out on the side of the majority of Sunnyside gardens home owners who are against Landmark status.

Anonymous said...

Onorato, you have never been into a landmark district - shame on you spreading false rumors particularly taking advantage, yes taking advantage of people.

You are a product of the clubhouse.

You are leaving a sad legacy - after you leave office (and taking a look at you it will be sooner than later) you will not leave your people with a good memory.

BTW, how was that wine tasting junket you used tax payers money for. We understand your wife enjoyed. it.

Anonymous said...

In answer to anonymous. You are on of many people, including the people from the landmark commission who have told me that this would not require rolling back to the 1920's look. However, subsequent questioning *always* reveals that any change I make going forward would have to comply with the 1920's look and feel. I simply can't understand this logical disconnect. I suppose the answer is honest on the face of it. I don't *have* to roll back to the 1920's look. To avoid it I'd simply need to stop maintaining the facade of my house! You've also used the example of preventing changes by my neighbors. Our current zoning designation already prevents extensions and other material alterations. With that in mind I really don't see the wisdom in inviting large scale government regulation simply to silence a few people with questionable taste. Is prioritizing homogeny over expression something that makes a community special? Certainly not in my mind.

Ira Greenberg said...

Landmarking is for one purpose -- to preserve for historical and architectural enjoyment of the greater community, not to prevent overdevelopment. If your goal is to prevent overdevelopment than it is zoning you should be looking to.
There are statutes on the books which clearly state that the Landmarks Commission cannot "regulate or limit the height and bulk of buildings, to regulate and determine the area of yards, courts and other open spaces, . . ." (Administrative Code of the City of New York section 25-304)
(This puts into question their legal authority to regulate our backyard spaces.)

It is the relationship between the buildings and the open spaces and the size of the buildings that is important now and was important when Sunnyside Gardens was built in the 1920s. The architects designed Sunnyside Gardens according to the "health, open space, greenery, and idyllic community living for all".
As the Amer. Institute of Architects stated in thier Guide to New York City "the architecture is unremarkble".
The public policy goals of home ownership for working and middle class people is at least as important as that of landmarking historically important buildings. In this situation landmarking impinges the affordable ownership policy and we must evaluate that impact and ask if landmarking overrides it.
Finally, do we want to live in a museum being custodians and answerable to city agency that will regulate style and taste?

Anonymous said...

It's not about home values going up. It's about them going down!

If each person becomes an island unto himself and doesn't consider his neighbors and builds out of context ugly additions, you'll have a "slummy" looking development in short time.

Then try to sell your house surrounded by a bunch of eye sores. See what you'll get for it.

In real estate its location, location, location! What kind of "curb appeal"will a patchwork hodge-podge Sunnyside Gardens have after it's ruined?

Not much to a perspective buyer.

Anonymous said...

True. When a neighborhood begins to get a "messed up" look, it starts going down the tubes faster than you might think. I've seen it happen before.

Many a ghetto was once a beautiful neighborhood.

Soon the delivery of city services starts to decline....police protection, sanitation etc. The quality of the schools start slipping away. People start to move to better neighborhoods to raise their families.

The value of homes start to slide. Then it becomes hard to reverse.

The truth is, the city doesn't pay as much attention to an ugly neighborhood like they do the better looking ones.

Look around at the rest of the borough and see. It all too soon becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Don't believe George Onorato. Learn to read between the lines. He's a lying two-face who's in it for himself and his powerful real estate pals not for the community!

He'll sell you out in a New York heartbeat!

Anonymous said...

I can stop those people who are against landmarking - watch this

Hey knuckleheads, go into any neighborhood that is landmarked. tell them the bs that Onorato and Diedre tells you.

Take along a reporter.

Get laughed out of the community.


georgetheatheist said...

Wha' happened to his posted picture?...we wanna see his hair do.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anonymous,
Am I to believe you are genuinely arguing that by failing to landmark a neighborhood it should logically follow that it will turn into a ghetto? Do I really need to dissect and analyze that, or can we all just accept it for the straw man that it is? Once again you talk about extensions. Once again I will remind you that SSG has zoning restrictions that largely prevent extensions. A reasonably simple zoning change (R4 to R4-B, for instance) could further restrict extensions and curb cuts without all the imposition of historic district status. As a resident more interested in gardens and neighbors and community than 1920's aesthetics landmarking just seems like he wrong choice.

Anonymous said...

Everytime I see Onorato hobbling around seemingly in a daze I remember all those calls for reform in Albany.

He is the poster child for that idea.

Astoria's answer to Strom Thurmond.

Anonymous said...

Senator Onorato, have you ever been into a landmark disctict, or talked to people who live in one?

Doubt it. When we see the historic fabric of your community ripped out you are making Astoria the laughting stock of NYC.

Time to step down old boy!! The world has moved on.

Anonymous said...

C.K....I think that you're just a shill for some hidden agenda....perhaps the old Manton machine that appeards to be still alive and fuctioning.

I have, indeed, seen neighborhoods "ghetto-ized" as a worst case scenario. I don't care to bore readers with lengthy studies from around the country.

You, sir, are misunderstanding and over-reacting.

You're the straw man..... despite your "proffessorial tone"!!!

Anonymous said...

It's very easy for any poster to present himself as a living personage.

Is "charles knipe" for real or merely a ficticious creation of the vested interests of the NYC real state industry?

Anonymous said...

No, just a "loud radio" playing the same old "anti-landmarking" tune...over and over and!

Time to tune into another station folks!

Anonymous said...

Ummm....From Superpages:

C Knipe
XXXXXX 75th St
East Elmhurst, NY 11370

along with a phone number....

Anonymous said...

My agenda is very clear here. I'm a homeowner and resident of SSG. I don't want the government to exercise unnecessary control over work I do on my home. If I were a shill for real estate wouldn't I be on the opposite side of this debate? If that were the case, property values would be king, as I'd make money from commission on home sales. By the same token how do I know the loud voices in favor arn't speaking on behalf of people who stand to proffit from landmarking, such as architects and contractors specializing in historic preservation that seem to have sprung up like weeds in this neighborhood. I've provided my name, and explained who I am. All you are so far is "anonymous".

Anonymous said...

Hey nitwit, instead of wasting people's time have you ever spoken someone in a landmarked community?

You were told enough times to do it. What are you afraid of?

Or are use just senselessly repeating the drivel that some hack filled into your empty head?

Anonymous said...

Well, that is interesting. A phone number in East Elmhurst.

Here is another phone number
(212) 614-9107, the Historic Districts Council. Ask for Simeon Bankoff.

Ask him to introduce you to someone that already lives in an landmarked historic district.

Then sit down with them and fire away any question your little heart may desire. They should give you better judgment (having gone through it) then Georgie or Diedrie or Sarah who can only suggest opinion and conjecture.

I am certain you want facts? Right?

It would be good if a reporter from say the Chronicle goes with you. Then let the reporter write about your little adventure.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Shill (or C.K. if you like) we're not talking about being a meager real estate agent getting his high "pimp fees" (commissions) on sales, we're speaking of the mega "NYC REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY !

These are the major developers etc., if you will, who are against landmarking because it interferes with their ability to destroy neighborhoods with their plans for overdevelpment!

Oh, I know you're not one of those "biggies", but perhaps, you're employed by them.

Sorry, until you post a copy of your deed of ownership of the house you say you live in, there' no proof you live in SSG. You're a phantom!

Save your breath for the LPC hearing which will be calendared shortly!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Knipe, the name that you've provided proves nothing. I could choose a pen name also.

You could be a ghost writer for practically anyone (even a P.R. flack for a politico).

Your uninformed position on the issues, however, are quite clear to the informed!

Anonymous said...

Is "anonymous" going to show his/her deed as well? Last I check, people are free to express their opinion. If you don't agree, why not rebut their idea? Don't attack the poster.

Anonymous said...

You can consider me a real estate shill, a PR man for a politician, whatever you want. Heck, think of me as Osama Bin Laden or the Queen of England if it makes you happy. It doesn't change my opinion on this matter. If you'd like to change my mind, go ahead and say something rational. Personally I'm not interested in talking to people in other landmarked neighborhoods to find out if they're happy. If they are I'm happy for them. That doesn't change my opinion. The perception I have of the implications of landmark status come from questions I've personally asked the landmarks commission representatives. In fact, if any of you are indeed from SSG, and have attended the community meetings you've likely heard me ask them. If you believe I'm so misinformed I would genuinely apreciate if you'd point out where I've misspoken.

Anonymous said...

Forget about little fish:
how about training our guns on the real culprits.
We should do this in caps to get his attention.










Anonymous said...

Noboby is really engaging in personal attacks or making unfounded statements.

WE ARE DISCUSSING ISSUES which can often get heated as they do in the halls of Congress). That's what a blog is for. Chefs, for instance, must learn to take the heat of the kitchen or find other means of employment.

Don't be so thin skinned. You're doing your job, which I respect, and I'm doing mine.

We are all entitled to our anonymous positions.Yet, we do what we can to get at THE TRUTH.

I repeat, you may save your opinions at LPC's public hearing. There, perhaps, we will recognize each other by our positions. Good luck and en guarde.

P.S. I will bring along a copy of my deed !

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's time that a constituents' group pulled up in front of Onorato's district office in a black Lincoln Towne Car and ask him to take a tour of some landmark districts with them.

Maybe he'll change his anti-landmark position on SSG when he sees, personally, how well these other existing landmarked districts are served!

But George "the bricklayer" Onorato owes more to the building/real estate industry of NYC than he does to his constituency!

He'll never take that tour!

Anonymous said...

Bottom line-this wonderful neighborhood has become a war zone. People are spying and ratting out neighbors that oppose their views. Yes "Snoop Sisters" we know who you are!. If Landmarking is so great and there is a majority of HOMEOWNERS that want it, why can't the owners have a vote. This is what are country was founded for, the freedom to choose by democratic vote. Our country sends troops to fight for "Democracy" is other lands, and yet on home soil the right to vote is taken away. A commission is telling all of us they know what we want and need. Didn't Hitler feel the same way. As for some really pro landmarkers-guess being an architect won't hurt once you get your wish to landmark. All you're interested in is the money. I've seen some of your homes too, pro landmarkers, with your decks, sliding doors and retractable awnings. Show me the plans by Louis Mumford that indicate those things on his plans. You all got what you want on your property and the heck with everyone else. Shame on you

Anonymous said...

Is someone going around threatening people that are in favor of landmarking?


Careful careful careful now.

Every one is talking .....

Anonymous said...

"A commission is telling all of us they know what we want and need. Didn't Hitler feel the same way."

typical anti landmark rant. notice that they don't go to a landmark district, but simply run around like a headless chicken.


Queens Crapper said...

Godwin's Law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies) is a mainstay of Internet culture, an adage formulated by Mike Godwin in 1990. The law states:

"As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one."

Godwin's Law does not dispute whether any particular reference or comparison to Hitler or the Nazis might be apt. It is precisely because such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued, that overuse of the Nazi/Hitler comparison should be avoided, as it robs the valid comparisons of their impact.

Although in one of its early forms Godwin's Law referred specifically to Usenet newsgroup discussions, the law is now applied to any threaded online discussion: electronic mailing lists, message boards, chat rooms, and more recently blog comment threads and wiki talk pages.

Anonymous said...

Hey "Hitler" poster....... you are insulting the sacred memories of those who suffered and died under Der Fuhrer's Third Reich by using a very serious topic to draw parallels to some, really, trivial disagreements among the residents of SSG!

You should be ashamed of yourself! Who's being "totalitarian" now?

I've seen people with tattooed wrist numbers and my forebearers fought in Germany. In fact my uncle was stationed in Nuremburg!

In my opinion you're a cheap shooter trying to make a bad point!