The NY Historical Society’s ‘Trojan Horse’ vs. Mass Emailing

Whenever an email comes our way with the title THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY’S TROJAN HORSE: JUST SAY “NO!”, our interest is officially perked. Apparently, Landmark West is launching a letter-writting campaign to “save our skyline (SOS)” from the looming tower atop the NY Historical Society. Here’s their alarmed message in full:

In our last email, we reported on the New-York Historical Society’s weak attempt to hide the 280-foot elephant in the room at a so-called “Town Hall” meeting held on January 31. Despite an earlier email dispatch from the Historical Society claiming “that proceeds from the residential portion of our construction program would be used to help fund the Society’s internal growth plans,” they adamantly refused to discuss their plans for a luxury apartment building looming up over its Landmark building on Central Park West between 76th and 77th Streets.

On Thursday, February 8, at 7:00 PM (Fourth Universalist Society, Central Park West & 76th Street), the Historical Society will ask Community Board 7’s Parks & Preservation Committee to consider (and possibly vote on) proposed facade alterations only. Your presence on Feb. 8 is ABSOLUTELY VITAL! The 400+ crowd at last week’s meeting sent the clear message that the public is not fooled by the Historical Society’s Trojan Horse. Approval of the facade changes would immediately set the stage for the luxury high-rise. Join your fellow New Yorkers in just saying “No!”

Email campaign: Do like Bill Moyers, and tell it like it is…

See after the jump for “it.”

- Max Abelson

Between now and Thursday, please email a version of the message below to the following key decisionmakers. They need to hear from YOU! (Please make sure to cc. landmarkwest@landmarkwest.org. Thanks!)

Hon. Shelly Fine, Chair, Manhattan Community Board 7, mail@cb7.org
Hon. Robert Tierney, Chair, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, comments@lpc.nyc.gov
Hon. Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President, bp@manhattanbp.org
Hon. Thomas K. Duane, NYS Senator, duane@senate.state.ny.us
Hon. Linda B. Rosenthal, NYS Assembly Member, RosentL@ assembly.state.ny.us
Hon. Gale A. Brewer, NYC Council Member, gale.brewer@council.nyc.gov

Sample Letter:
Dear [See below]:
I am writing to register my strong opposition to the the New-York Historical Society’s plans to alter permanently the unique skyline of Central Park West between West 76th and 77th Streets, the crossroads of some of our city’s most beautiful and historic treasures.

The Society wants to alter the facade of its Landmark building and then to erect a luxury tower that would loom over the building, the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park and Central Park West at one of its most strategic and picturesque intersections. Sadly, the Society’s representatives have not been forthcoming with the community. To the contrary, they are attempting to keep the public in the dark about the tower until it is too late to challenge the specific plans. This is most unfortunate for a non-profit, taxpayer-supported public institution. Their project affects not only the people in the immediate vicinity who will be negatively impacted by the despoiling of the environment, but all of us in the City.

At a recent meeting of neighbors to discuss this issue with Society representatives–over 400 people attended–it became apparent that the Society’s strategy is to “divide and conquer”. The $15 million facade alteration project is a Trojan Horse that would immediately set the stage for the luxury high-rise.The Society’s claims that these projects are “separate” is disingenuous; one leads directly to the other–that was obvious at the meeting.

As a New Yorker [and a resident of the neighborhood the Society wants to change], I am appalled as well as saddened by this offense against the public. The only “Triple Crown” Landmark in our city (protected as an Individual Landmark and as part of the Central Park West – West 76th Street Historic District and the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District), the New-York Historical Society is the anchor of a unique architectural, historical and cultural ensemble. Immediately surrounding this site are the American Museum of Natural History (an Individual Landmark), Central Park (a Scenic Landmark) and the many contributing buildings in the historic districts. Any changes must be considered carefully and with full transparency.

But this is not our only concern. To consider New York’s landmarks and historic districts as “development opportunities” is a travesty against our obligation to preserve the best of the City for generations to come. Approval of a tower to loom over the Historical Society would send a clear green-light signal to private and institutional developers eager to exploit other historic properties throughout the city.

I am adding my voice to the resounding “NO” that the New-York Historical Society and the policy-makers of our city cannot ignore.

Sincerely,
xxxx