LPC Community Outreach is Good Government

Kate Daly, Executive Director of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Image Credit: LPC.

Kate Daly, Executive Director of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Image Credit: LPC.

I would like to respond to a recent CityLand guest commentary by Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) that suggested that the Landmarks Preservation Commission practice of notifying property owners prior to “calendaring” a property is detrimental to the landmarks process. The Commission’s successful record can be directly attributed to our efforts to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of, and help build support for, landmark designations in their neighborhoods.

Mr. Berman states that the Commission has added an “extra-legal” step to its process by giving owners advance notice that their property is being considered as a potential landmark. The Landmarks Law establishes the minimum amount of notice required in the designation process; it does not limit or in any way envision minimal contact between the Commission and owners of buildings under consideration. Designation is only the beginning of a long partnership between the Commission and property owners, and we believe that the current practice can only be characterized as good government. After a building obtains landmark status, those New Yorkers who are the stewards of our shared heritage have a responsibility to preserve their landmark properties, and the Commission serves as a guide in those efforts.

The GVSHP report analyzes changes made to a handful of buildings under consideration for landmark status between 2002 and 2013. The 19 buildings flagged in the report represent less than 1 percent of the 8,350 buildings designated within historic districts during this period, and their alteration or loss did not in any way impede or prevent landmark designation of those historically significant neighborhoods. The same holds true for individual landmarks, of which only 2.5 percent of those under consideration were altered. While any loss of historic fabric is regrettable, the current, transparent system has been crucial in paving the way for thousands of successful landmark designations.

The Commission will continue to explore ways to expedite our review processes as part of our community-based outreach efforts. The Commission takes the time to meet property owners, community boards, elected officials and neighborhood groups to provide information on the impact of designation, to answer questions, and to build support for our work, and this time is well spent.

Kate Daly serves as Executive Director for the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

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