Monday, January 17, 2011

Ghost of Donald Manes still haunts Queens

From the Daily News:

During the reign of Queens Borough President Donald Manes in the 1970s and 1980s, advocates for historic preservation consistently lost bids to landmark sites - often leading to their demolition.

Wielding his powerful influence on the Board of Estimate, Manes opposed almost every landmark the board considered in his borough. The rejections continued until 1986 - when the scandal-scarred Manes resigned and committed suicide.

A quarter century later, Queens has witnessed significant gains in landmarks. But preservationists fear the landmarks struggles of the Manes era may return after a controversial vote this week.

The City Council is expected on Tuesday to deny the landmark designation of a Tudor Gothic Revival church hall in Jamaica, based on objections raised by the congregation after the vote by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Some fear the decision would set a precedent for the city to landmark property only after receiving consent from its owner. That could doom future landmarking causes involving absentee landlords and ambivalent residents.

"It definitely will have a chilling effect," said Jim Driscoll of the Queens Historical Society.

Councilman Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), who is leading the charge to overturn the designation, said the commission should start practicing "real engagement" with property owners before a landmarks vote.

"This is kind of a teachable moment for how we do landmarks," he said.

Gennaro would not elaborate on what the commission could have done beyond the letters, phone calls and meetings with church leaders.

The commission released a statement defending its "early and ongoing outreach to elected leaders, owners and civic groups."

But preservationists worry the agency, which relies on the Council to approve its designations, may be hesitant to landmark again in Queens without owner consent.

"In the future, unless the Landmarks Commission gets a strong, positive 'yes' in writing, they might not move forward," said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council.

Still, local advocates insisted they are not deflated.

Historian Jeff Gottlieb, who first pitched the church hall as a landmark, vowed to continue fighting for significant sites.

He spearheaded a successful bid in 2008 to landmark an ornate Jamaica bank whose designation had been overturned during Manes' tenure and again by the Council in 1992.

Another Queens activist, Jeffrey Kroessler, also seemed undeterred.

"For someone just entering the arena of historic preservation, this would be a depressing incident," he said. "For those of us with more than one battle scar, we know this is just one battle."


Anonymous said...

What is motivating this Gennaro? Does he do the things Manes did ?

Anonymous said...

They keep plenty of razors on the bathroom windowsill to be used for gerrymandering

Anonymous said...

We need AL centola to run he will clean up the mess

Snake Plissskin said...

Read City for Sale - the book about Ed Koch with starring roles by Donald Manes and Peter Vallone.

That Queens has let the Manes clique still call the shots in Boro Hall (Hi Claire!) tells volumes not about the politicans (low lower lowest - are you surpris?ed) but ourselves for letting them and their suffocating culture stay pretty much in place.

So why are we surprised by Gennaro?

georgetheatheist said...

Just curious. Do landmarked buildings still have to pay property taxes? If so, why not offer the sweetener of no taxes for landmarked status?

Anonymous said...

chapters include data on ALLAN HEVESI,DOWD,THE LAWYER, JIMMY BRESLIN,BESS MEYERSON,ANDY CAPASSO and the Queens Blvd. democrat machine during the many Ed.Koch years in office.

the chickens are coming home to roost.....

most democrat indictments and convictions and firings in n.y.c. government history.....

Anonymous said...

The Koch Bridge empties to Manes Plaza which splits to Hevesi Blvd and Samerano Blvd. a. schwarzenegger said...

Hallo Kveens! I'm moofing from Sekremento to Samerano Blvd. I vill be your neighbor zoon. Hahr-hahr!

Adolph Bloomhitler said...

Hallo Kveens! I'm moofing from Sekremento to Samerano Blvd. I vill be your neighbor zoon. Hahr-hahr!
I'm vaiting!!!

Anonymous said...

is it me.. the chosen people ARE RUNNING WILD...Madoff Miliken etc.

911 made it easier to see how trillions can be stolen in daylight.

now the chosen people have all the world's money . power. and most importantly control thought process . DANGER DANGER DANGER ?? THE CHOSEN ONES ARE IN CONTROL