Mayor de Blasio has the opportunity to forge a new direction in landmark preservation through his choice of a new Chairperson.
It is long past time to end the tired debates between aggressive developers trashing the landmark process on the one hand, and old-time preservationists trying to protect everything dear to their hearts; between ideological theologists protesting government interference with their religious “mission,” and preservation theologists insisting that church-developers be treated like their commercial counterparts; between property-owners complaining that bureaucratic red tape prevents them from repairing a broken sash, and preservationists’ fear of Mr. Pine’s Purple House.
Despite the heated rhetoric, there is a rational balance to be established between these competing views of the world. And, to the measure, to promote the Mayor’s signature goal – affordable housing.
What is needed, first and foremost, is a Chair who is a landmark grounded-pro, who understands the issues, knows the players, and can separate rhetoric from reality. A tough, but not impossible, set of criteria.
Today’s muddle is to a large extent attributable to the fact that recent chairs have been corporate lawyers with zero landmark preservation experience or knowledge.
In almost all of his appointments to date, the Mayor has tapped experienced professionals grounded in their chosen fields and tailor-made for the position.
Here, too, Mr. Mayor.
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