Lost in the dust-cloud hovering above today’s Upper East Side crane collapse was this morning’s protest on the steps of City Hall, during which preservationists asked the city to restore $300,000 in funding to the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
That commission is responsible for designating, and thereby protecting from alteration, city landmarks and landmarked districts.
“During the last two years, increased funding has enabled the LPC to hire more employees, and as a result, the commission designated 26 landmarks and four historic districts,” said Lisa Kersavage, director of advocacy for the Municipal Art Society, in a statement.
The jobs of five such employees are now at risk, thanks to proposed funding cutbacks, according to the Society.
The full release is below:
Municipal Art Society Urges City Council to Restore LPC Budget
The Municipal Art Society of New York, a non-profit membership organization that promotes a more livable city, joined nearly 60 preservation organizations for a news conference on the steps of City Hall to urge the City Council to restore funding for the Landmarks Preservation Commission. News conference participants included City Council Members Jessica Lappin, who sponsored the event, Tony Avella and Letitia James, as well as DC 37, Local 375.
For the past two years, the City Council has funded five additional positions to survey and research the city’s historic buildings and neighborhoods. These employees have surveyed 19,000 buildings in the past two years. These five positions are at risk of being cut as a result of reduced funding in the upcoming budget.
The MAS believes that these jobs, which would cost $300,000, are necessary to effectively uphold the LPC’s mandate of preserving the city’s heritage. Even with the increased funding, the LPC’s budget is very small, accounting for less than one one-hundredth of one percent of the City’s expenditures.
“During the last two years, increased funding has enabled the LPC to hire more employees, and as a result, the commission designated 26 landmarks and four historic districts,” said Lisa Kersavage, director of advocacy for the Municipal Art Society. “Communities throughout the city are calling for landmark designation, but if the City eliminates the property surveyors, the commission cannot operate effectively to protect historic buildings and districts.”
In 2006, the City Council, led by Council Members Jessica Lappin, Tony Avella and Diana Reyna, increased the budget of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) by $250,000 for the fiscal year. Consequently, the LPC was able to hire five new staff members dedicated to survey, research and designation. In 2007, in an effort led by Council Member Lappin, the City Council renewed the funding and increased it to $300,000, thereby enabling the LPC to keep the five additional staff members and continue the level of designation work necessary in today’s building boom.
MAS recently created a brief movie on this budget issue that can be found at http://mas.org/viewcategory.php?category=4. The movie explains the need for the budget restoration, and also shows pictures of buildings surveyed in all five boroughs.
The Municipal Art Society of New York is a private, non-profit membership organization whose mission is to promote a more livable city. Since 1893, the organization has worked to enrich the culture, neighborhoods and physical design of New York City. It advocates for excellence in urban design and planning, contemporary architecture, historic preservation and public art. For more information, please visit http://www.mas.org. For more information about The Campaign for a Grand Moynihan Station, visit http://www.newpennstation.org.
Groups in Support of Sustaining the LPC Budget
93rd Street Beautification Association
Bay Improvement Group
Bayside Civic Database
Bayside Historical Society
Brooklyn Heights Association
Cambridge Place Action Coalition
Carnegie Hill Neighbors
Citizens Emergency Committee to Preserve Preservation
Cobble Hill Association
Concerned Citizens of Greenwood Heights
Defenders of the Historic Upper East Side
Ditmas Park Association
DOCOMOMO US New York/Tri-State
The Drive to Protect the Ladies’ Mile District
DUMBO Neighborhood Association
East Village Community Coalition
Fiske Terrace Association
Fort Greene Association
Four Bough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance
Friends of First Avenue Estate
Friends of Terra Cotta
Friends of the Hall of Fame for Great Americans
Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct
Friends of the Upper East Historic Districts
Fulton Ferry Landing Association
Greenwich Village Community Task Force
Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
Historic Districts Council
Historic Neighborhood Enhancement Alliance
Jackson Heights Garden City Society
Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association
Kew Gardens Improvement Association
Merchant’s House Museum
Metropolitan Historic Structures Association
Modern Architecture Working Group
Municipal Art Society
New York Landmarks Conservancy
New York Preservation Alliance
North Shore Waterfront Greenbelt
Preservation League of Staten Island
Preserve & Protect
Queens Civic Congress
Rego-Forest Preservation Group
Richmond Hill Historical Society
Riverdale Historic District
Senator Street Historic District
Society For Clinton Hill
Society for the Architecture of the City
Sunnyside Gardens Preservation Alliance
Tottenville Historical Society
Tribeca Community Association
West 54-55 Street Block Association
West 122nd Street Block Association
West Brighton Restoration Society
Williamsburg Greenpoint P