Preservationists were outraged in December when the Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City and seven other historic sites across the borough were put in jeopardy after the chairwoman of the Landmarks Preservation Committee proposed to remove them from consideration for protection. The blowback was so fierce that Chairwoman Meenakshi Srinivasan reversed course less than a week later and decided not to “de-calendar” them and to consider a new plan to deal with a backlog of nearly a hundred buildings and sites citywide.
The LPC announced last week that its Backlog Initiative would begin addressing the properties with a public comment period and then a special hearing on the 95 properties that were placed on the commission’s calendar decades ago.
Each property, including the Douglaston Historic District, the Old Calvary Gatehouse in Sunnyside, the Bowne Street Community Church in Flushing, the Spanish Towers and the Fairway Apartments in Jackson Heights, the First Reformed Church and Sunday School of College Point and the Ahles House in Bayside will each get a months-long process of public review and hearings.
“Last fiscal year, the commission designated over 2,000 buildings and sites throughout the city in record timeframes, and I hope to extend this level of efficiency to every aspect of the agency,” Srinivasan said. “In that spirit, we are focused on addressing this backlog of properties that for decades have been languishing on the commission’s calendar, creating uncertainty for both property owners and the preservation community.”
The commissioner added that the plan will ensure “fairness and transparency” while allowing significant public input. The public review period started this week and will last around three months.
Interested parties can review background materials, available for download at the LPC website, on the backlog items. These materials include fact sheets with maps and summaries of each property, and 15,000 pages of publicly accessible portions of LPC research files, which provide available information on the history of each property.
Throughout the period the public is welcome to submit written statements to backl
All Queens properties will be addressed at a public hearing on Oct. 8. Speakers will be allowed to testify for three minutes and can register by e-mail at backl
The LPC will vote for or against designation of each property in 2016. The commission can also choose to issue a “no-action letter” for some items, which would remove them from consideration but would not disqualify them from landmark designation in the future.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr