Part 2 – Update on Washington Square Park Phase II from Community Board 2 Meeting Last Week

– Updated –

* Washington Square Park Seating alcoves reduced in size contrary to agreement?

* A Look back at Landmarks Preservation 2 Hearings On WSP Phase II in 2009

* Has Community Board 2 Colluded with the Parks Department to Keep Phase II Under Wraps?

* & More!

As I reported in Part 1 of my report back from the April 6th Community Board 2 meeting, Phase II construction at Washington Square Park (parts, of course, that weren’t moved into Phase III) on the Eastern side will be finished and open sometime “around Memorial Day” with the Chess Plaza opening in June.

At the meeting, Community member Margie Rubin asked about the seating alcove in the Northeastern section of the park – across from the playground – which was promised to be the “exact same size.” She said that this alcove is now “1/2 the size. Why was it cut down?

The community fought to keep the seating alcoves in the park; the Parks Department wanted to remove most of them. At the Landmarks Preservation Commission two hearings addressing Phase II in 2009, the Parks Department agreed to increase the proposed number of seating alcoves from 1 1/2 to four. (Previously, there were six, or seven, depending who you ask.)

Brad Romaker from Capital Projects division — who was sent to the meeting by the Parks Department to give the status report on Phase II and was unfamiliar with the finer points of the park’s plan — said he did not know what happened but would find out. (A woman involved with another Parks project at the meeting told me that Romaker can be quite helpful and can get things done.)

This led to discussion in which Tobi Bergman (CB2 Parks Committee chair) said post-Landmarks Preservation Commission hearings that the seating alcoves were never supposed to be the same size.

My understanding was that three of the alcoves remained the same size except for one on the southeast side (which also endured a change of location to the southern side of the park at some point after the LPC meeting). I will revisit the alcoves; nonetheless, it was clearly stated that the alcove on the northeastern side would retain its size.

See highlights from previous blog posts below from the two Landmarks Preservation Commission meetings in 2009 addressing Phase II:

* Highlights from LPC Public Hearing March 17th on WSP (posted March 20,2009):

Currently there are six seating alcoves at Washington Square Park which exist on the north, northeast, and southeast sides of the Park. The Parks Department’s plan is to eliminate all except for one (which will remain in its entirety on the north side, across from the playground) and to retain a 1/4 or a 1/2 of another (on the eastern side).

* Landmarks Preservation Commission Approves Phase II of WSP Redesign; NYC Parks Department agrees to increase # of alcoves (posted April 15th, 2009):

The Parks Department, represented by Charles McKinney and designer George Vellonakis, started out stating that they were prepared to add one or two more alcoves to the originally proposed two. However, they preferred three. George Vellonakis said that ideally a fourth would be omitted because its location inside the Park lawn on the (south) east side “distracts the view and expansion of the lawn.” The other reasons given by Mr. Vellonakis for omitting that fourth alcove were possible damage to surrounding tree roots and that that area in the new design undergoes a “geometry change.”

The Parks Department stated that the fourth alcove would be very small and “intimate” but how small I’m not sure.

Mr. Bergman then said that this was due to “different memories” and stated that everyone had a chance to “look at the blueprints.” Actually, that is not true specifically because of his collusion with the city Parks Department. The CB2 Parks Committee chair has prevented any substantive look at or discussion of Phase II designs.

A Parks Department long-awaited presentation on Phase II that was supposed to happen in February 2010 (after the Department admitted being unprepared at a meeting in December 2009) never happened. The blueprints were dropped off at this February 2010 meeting (over one year ago) and left on a table with no opportunity for discussion or review – this was five months after the work had already started. Mr. Bergman does not have a lot of credibility when it comes to the issue of Washington Square Park, Phase II and blueprints.

When asked about the tiles which previously lay in Teen Plaza that children in the ’70’s had created; some of which were supposed to be moved into the newly designed Children’s Playground, Mr. Romaker did not know if this had happened but also that he would find out. I was also curious about the historical markers which are in Phase III — Mr. Romaker did not know about these and again said he would get the answer.

There’s more! Part 3 from the meeting coming on the other parks.

* In 2008, I wrote an 8 part report after a Washington Square Park Task Force meeting so I certainly can find things to write about after attending these meetings!

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Landmarks Preservation Commission Resumes Phase III WSP on Tuesday, May 11th

Landmarks Preservation Commission on Phase III WSP: Tuesday, May 11th, Approximate time: 11:10 – 11:40 a.m., Be there by:10:25 a.m. Location: Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1 Centre Street, 9th floor, Manhattan.

Item to be discussed: 10-7129 – Block 549, lot 1-  Washington Square Park – Greenwich Village Historic District — A public park built in 1826 with subsequent alterations. Application is to construct a new building and install signage.

This is a continuation of the meeting held April 20th – addressing the bathroom/administrative buildings, and new signage – which had to be cut short because there was no quorum.

Landmarks Preservation Commission Meets Tuesday, April 20th Re: Phase III Washington Square Park / New Signage and Building

Pylon Signs - Four will grace Park

Landmarks Preservation Commission to meet Tuesday, April 20th Re: Washington Square Park, Phase III (last phase!)

Item to be discussed: 10-7129 – Block 549, lot 1- Washington Square Park – Greenwich Village Historic District — A public park built in 1826 with subsequent alterations. Application is to construct a new building and install signage.

Time & Location: 4:30 p.m. (note: they suggest being there approx. 3:45 p.m.), 1 Centre Street, 9th floor, Manhattan.

Designs and changes proposed by NYC Parks Department include:

Signage: Pylon signs – outlining WSP history – will be 3 sided, 6 feet 7 inches, with 5 feet of text (a little large, no?).

They will be placed at the Washington Square Arch, the Holley Plaza, the new Garibaldi Plaza, and by Thompson street entrance.

New Building: Bathrooms and Park Administrative building to be combined into one (glass-stone-steel-wood) structure with a trellis on top. I will try to get a photo. (I missed my chance at the meeting on April 7th!)

Community Board 2’s Parks Committee and the Landmarks Committee held the meeting with the Washington Square Park Task Force which featured the Parks Department design presentation of the above earlier this month (April 7th) but I don’t know how they are going to weigh in. Likely they will support it, as designed.

The Landmark Preservation Commission then votes on whether they will approve and if this can move forward since the Park falls within the Greenwich Village Historic District. Some of the LPC’s decisions re: Washington Square Park (notably Phase I – moving of the Fountain and redesign of the Park) have been controversial and politically motivated. (See categories – right side bar – for archived posts related to Landmarks Preservation Commission.)

Landmarks Preservation Commission Approves Phase II of WSP Redesign; NYC Parks Department agrees to increase # of alcoves

What follows are some of the highlights from yesterday’s (April 14) Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting, a continuation of the
March 17th public hearing
, scheduled to determine what the future holds for Phase II of Washington Square Park’s redesign by New York City’s Parks Department. So here goes…

* The number of seating alcoves in the Park

There’s actually some good news. Which is that the New York City Parks Department, responding to the calls from Council Member Alan Gerson, Community Board 2, and impassioned park goers to keep their hands off Washington Square Park‘s popular seating alcoves, increased the number in their plan from two to four. The Park currently has six. So, that’s … something.

The Parks Department, represented by Charles McKinney and designer George Vellonakis, started out stating that they were prepared to add one or two more alcoves to the originally proposed two. However, they preferred three. George Vellonakis said that ideally a fourth would be omitted because its location inside the Park lawn on the (south) east side “distracts the view and expansion of the lawn.” The other reasons given by Mr. Vellonakis for omitting that fourth alcove were possible damage to surrounding tree roots and that that area in the new design undergoes a “geometry change.”

At first, Robert Tierney, LPC chair, advocated for the 3 alcoves as he believed that was the Parks Department’s “preference.” The Parks Department stated that the fourth alcove would be very small and “intimate” but how small I’m not sure.

Thankfully, the heroine of the meeting, Commissioner Roberta Brandes Gratz, stood her ground and argued repeatedly for the fourth. She said, “There was a lot of controversy about the redesign – for many legitimate reasons. This park evolved with many layers of change and use which took it away from the original more pristine design. This park is not like Gramercy Park. The park evolved with the neighborhood.” She also said, “I’m not concerned if a piece of lawn is taken away. It’s about how the park is used and the weight of its importance and use outweighs the difficulty of it intruding on [tree] roots.”

It was Ms. Brandes Gratz’s persistence and unwavering that convinced the rest of the Commissioners of the importance of the four (vs. three) alcoves. The inclusion of these four adds to (and maintains) the Park’s charm and uniqueness and gives us a bit of a break from all the symmetry of Phase I.

* Increased seating? Depends what year within the Park’s history you base this on

The Parks Department claims that seating is being “increased by 37%.” George Vellonakis stated that there are currently 355 benches and there will be 487 benches in the newly designed version. (These numbers do not include benches being added into the new alcoves.) However, Park advocate Jonathan Greenberg walked with me around the park recently and he informed me that the Parks Department has been consistently removing benches over the years. (Why…? I don’t know.)

So, to truly determine what the increase would be, you’d have to calculate from an older number of existing benches from a previous year (1970 perhaps?).

In fact, if you walk around each alcove as well as the Northeast corner where the picnic tables are, you will see iron or metal ‘holders’ on the ground that indicate where the benches previously were located that have been removed. (I’m going to write a separate post on this.)

* The Stage – Garibaldi Plaza – Shrunken, Relocated, No Guardrail but Approved

The performance area – the newly named Garibaldi Plaza (previously “Teen Plaza”) – was very quickly discussed at the meeting and it’s unclear to me if any changes were made from the previous version shown. The stage is moving and shrinking and has no guardrails and basically no backstage, if it’s the same version last presented.

Again, Commissioner Roberta Brandes Gratz asked pointed questions such as “you moved the stage because…?” and “Is it better than the old stage?” and “Will you have a backstage?” To this last question, George Vellonakis said that the “[performance] groups will assemble in this pathway” and pointed to an area that I could not see from where I was. (I left Mr. Vellonakis a message to clarify and will update if I receive the answer.)

I think there may be a plan for a temporary railing to prevent the conductor or performers from, um, falling off the stage.

The Washington Square Music Festival testified at the last meeting calling for approval of the plan while simultaneously expressing their disapproval. Although this group only uses the area about five times a year, they are considered sort of the arbiter of the space, so their lukewarm “support” in a sense sealed the deal.

* The Vote – Plan Approved

Before the vote, another LPC Commissioner Christopher Moore referred to the testimony given at the March 17th hearing as “heartfelt and passionate” and intimated that that testimony should be respected. He also said he liked the addition of the fourth alcove because it added to the Park’s “idiosyncratic quality.”

The plan was approved unanimously with the intention that the lights, fence, and pathways will be restored in keeping with Phase I’s work, the stage will be moved and reconfigured, and that there will be four seating alcoves retained within the Park.

* The Past is Our Future

But, of course, it was the first set of Landmarks Preservation Commission hearings in May 2005 where the crucial decisions were made to approve the sweeping changes proposed by the Parks Department to reconfigure Washington Square Park.

It is widely alleged, that, at that time, the Commissioners were pressured by Mayor Bloomberg’s office to go along with an approval and information was leaked to the New York Times in advance that they were going to do so. An article appeared in the Times the morning of the critical vote signaling the Commission would be going along with the Parks Department’s plan.

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* Video here of Q&A from the original Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing – May 10, 2005 by Matt Davis (who directed the work-in-progress documentary “SQUARE: Straightening Out Washington Square Park”). New York State Supreme Court Judge Emily Jane Goodman later ruled that “essential elements of the Parks Department’s plans … were not adequately revealed to Community Board 2 or the Landmarks Commission…”

Landmarks Preservation Commission Resumes Discussion on Phase II of NYC’s Redesign Plans for Washington Square Park on Tuesday, April 14th

Updated…

On Tuesday, April 14th, 11:15 a.m., the Landmarks Preservation Commission resumes discussion on Washington Square Park and whether to approve Phase II of the NYC Park’s Department’s Plans.

For a recap of what happened at the public hearing on March 17th at which the LPC decided they needed to schedule another meeting to discuss and review the Parks Department’s controversial plans, see previous WSP Blog entry here.

If you’d like to attend, they suggest arriving 10:30 a.m. Update: there will be no public testimony this time around. (I’m not sure if it’s necessary to be there so early if there is no public testimony.)

Location: Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1 Centre Street @ Chambers, 9th floor, Manhattan

Trains: 2, 3, 4, 5, N, R, J, M, Z (Centre-Chambers Streets, City Hall-Brooklyn Bridge stops)

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Some other news: I heard from NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe again. More on that in the next few days.

Highlights from the Landmarks Preservation Commission Public Hearing March 17th on Washington Sq Park

Here are some of the highlights from Tuesday’s (March 17) Landmarks Preservation Commission public hearing on Washington Square Park Phase II Redesign:

* Charles McKinney from the New York City Parks Department gave the overview of the City’s retooled plan for Washington Square Park in Phase II focusing on the alcoves and the performance area. (Landmarks was also supposed to look at the pathways but these were not addressed – verbally, at least.) The landscape designer behind the City’s dramatic and oh-so-symmetrical redesign plan for the park, George Vellonakis, was there to assist him with visuals for the presentation.

Seating Alcoves

* Currently there are six seating alcoves at Washington Square Park which exist on the north, northeast, and southeast sides of the Park. The Parks Department’s plan is to eliminate all except for one (which will remain in its entirety on the north side, across from the playground) and to retain a 1/4 or a 1/2 of another (on the eastern side).

… Council Member Gerson: Alcoves are part of the “core Washington Square Park experience”

* New York City Council Member Alan Gerson appeared (!) and made a very important statement to the Commission advocating on behalf of the alcoves and the performance area. Council Member Gerson asked the LPC to hold off on a decision and not approve the plan before them. He remarked that the Washington Square Park Task Force and the Parks Department have “come so far” in their discussions over this and are “almost there” in reaching an agreement. He spoke of how important the alcoves are to “the core Washington Square Park experience” and said the replacement of seven (I count six but hey…) with one “deprives the community.”

* Council Member Gerson also stated that the removal of the majority of the alcoves “violates the spirit and letter between Speaker Quinn and myself on the one hand and the Parks Department on the other” (referring to the Gerson-Quinn Agreement). The Gerson-Quinn Agreement (which Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe doesn’t consider binding) called for keeping the alcoves in the Park’s design.

* Tobi Bergman spoke on behalf of the Washington Square Park Task Force in agreement with Council Member Gerson asking for modifications to the Parks Department’s plan.

... LPC Commissioner: Why can’t the alcoves be included? Parks Department: Here’s why….

* Many other Park users and advocates made compelling statements on behalf of the alcoves as places where people read, study, socialize, perform, eat lunch or just observe the park from a different vantage point to such a degree that by the end of the meeting, one of the Landmarks Commissioners finally asked, “why can’t the alcoves be included?Great question!

So what was Mr. McKinney’s reply to this? According to Mr. McKinney, the Parks Department’s view is that the alcoves …. “attract activities that are undesirable.” Hmmm.

Performance Area

* The current Garibaldi / Teen Plaza area (to east and southeast of the Fountain) acts as a stage for the Washington Square Music Festival and a host of other uses including rallies, protests, traveling high school bands, book festivals, musical performances, food festivals, and more. Mr. McKinney stated that as currently configured the area is “too isolated.” (??) Apparently, the Parks Department’s goal was to create a “centralized” space but truthfully it seems more isolated when you look at the plans.

… Washington Square Music Festival: “stage too small, too low, and without a backstage preparation area.” stage height “creates sight line problems for viewers beyond the first few rows.”

* Peggy Friedman, the executive director of the Washington Square Music Festival made a perplexing statement, first saying to the Landmarks Preservation Commission “with reluctance, I ask you to approve this plan.” She then elaborated on this statement remarking that the stage is too small, there is no appropriate back stage and that the stage height (it is currently an acceptable 36″ tall; in the plan, it is reduced to 28″) creates “sight line problems for viewers beyond the first few rows.” She said the area is “too small, too low and without a backstage preparation area.” (As currently configured, the “backstage” is located to the west and “in clear view of the audience.”)

* Another woman from the Festival spoke and stated that the stage itself is so improperly designed that if they want to present their typical 24 musicians and a conductor they would “not fit on the stage as currently proposed” and the Festival would have to “curtail the scale of some of our programs.” She said that the plan is “sadly inadequate for our needs.” Note: we are talking about a plan that was created fresh, right? It is supposed to work for the community’s needs and yet clearly does not.

Random

* Mr. McKinney stated at the end that the Parks Department believed a “small amount of people” were “somewhat unhappy” with this plan and they’d “prefer not to have a delay.”

* There were about three people who spoke in favor of the design… one who just wanted to see the plan move forward… and including community member Gil Horowitz who referred to it as the “Olmsteadian-inspired Vellonakis design.”

* Susan Goren from local group, ECO (Emergency Coalition Organization to Preserve Washington Square Park), read from a letter she wrote to Parks Commissioner Benepe stating: “Despite promises to the contrary, Washington Square Park’s historic use as a gathering space and as a performance space is being destroyed as the park is turned into Henry James’ Washington Square Park, lovely in the early 1800s, but hardly desirable in our modern world.”

LPC vote in 2005 one of the questionable moments in history of Park’s redesign plan

Another bit of trickery is that when Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the City’s redesign plan in May 2005 (another dodgey moment in the history of this plan), as Mr. McKinney explicitly noted, there were no alcoves and there was no performance area. One of the Landmarks Commissioners asked on Tuesday, “I don’t remember an outcry over the alcoves” (at the time). This is because it was stated – at that time – that this all would be revisited in later phases and yet the Parks Department believes the entire plan was approved without these elements so now anything they add in looks like a bonus. To them.

So… what’s next?

Head LPC Commissioner Robert Tierney said he’d like for the LPC Commissioners to “come back, discuss and then take an action.” He stated that that meeting shouldn’t be too far off in the future. Once that date is set, I will let you know.

Landmarks Preservation Commission Meets Today Tues. March 17th on Washington Sq Park

Today Tuesday, March 17th Phase II of Washington Square Park Redesign goes before Landmarks Preservation Commission at 4:15 p.m. Public comment is encouraged. Arrive 3:30 p.m.

The major historical, aesthetic, and cultural usage being destroyed relates to:

* loss of public space in the destruction of four and a half of the six seating alcoves (eastern side of park and southeastern – visible on right side of map). Much utilized and beloved and add character to the Park;

* the reduction in space and usage around Garibaldi/Teen Plaza (area in middle of diagram, to right of fountain circle);

* the removal of the entrance to the park at Thompson Street, shifting it to the east so that it can (like the Fountain) align with the Arch at Fifth Avenue. (Does this represent symmetry run amuk?

*The great reduction of space at the northeast corner (upper right hand corner of diagram). Soon to be a “plaza” (one at each corner of the Park – neat and pretty and functional. No picnic tables allowed).

If you plan to speak at the Landmarks Preservation Commission, please consider orienting your comments to the historical, cultural, and aesthetic aspects of the park’s design plan.

It’s not clear if Community Board 2, Washington Square Park Task Force, Council Speaker Quinn, Council Member Gerson, etc. will weigh in with their feelings to LPC (supposedly against this…)… ? Although the hearing was delayed a month so that, supposedly, the NYC Parks Department could respond to “community” concerns, it appears they made some small modifications to accommodate the Washington Square Music Festival (figuring not doing so would get them in hot water) but did not address any of the community’s other (real) concerns.

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Details: Tuesday, March 17th, arrive 3:30 p.m.; hearing 4:15 p.m. Landmarks Preservation Commission Public Hearing on Washington Square Park Next Phase Redesign, 1 Centre Street (at Chambers), 9th floor, Manhattan

Trains: 2, 3, 4, 5, N, R, J, M, Z (Centre-Chambers Streets, City Hall-Brooklyn Bridge stops)

Landmarks Preservation Commission Hearing on Washington Square Park Postponed

Just received word that the Landmarks Preservation Commission Public Hearing on Phase II Redesign of Washington Square Park originally scheduled for Tuesday, February 17th is postponed. Apparently, the Parks Department is reworking parts of the plan after being asked to make “revisions” to it after meeting with the “community.”

Will post when there is a new date!

Landmarks Preservation Commission Public Hearing on Washington Square Park on Tuesday, February 17th * How will City’s presentation to LPC differ from bare bones presentation given to Community Board 2?

Strawberry Fields, Central Park (Designated Scenic Landmark 1974)

Strawberry Fields, Central Park (Designated Scenic Landmark 1974)

The Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold a public hearing Tuesday, February 17th around the Parks’ Department’s plans for Phase II of Washington Square Park redesign. If you’d like to see the plans, they are available as of today (February 12th) at the LPC.

The New York City Parks Department via landscape designer George Vellonakis showed some minimal “before-and-after” drawings of the plan to the Washington Square Park Task Force/Community Board 2 Parks Committee at their meeting last week (February 4).

Of course, it is nothing new for the Parks Department to try to ‘get away’ with presenting the bare minimum (and obscuring certain facts and figures) but will the Community Board or Task Force at last object?

The aspects of the park being altered in Phase II include:

– “Teen Plaza”/Garibaldi Plaza – reworking of the area and new stage (reduced in height and size)

– Removal of a number of the seating alcoves (one and a half is being preserved out of six)

-Reworking of the pathways in the park

-Reconfiguring (reduction) of the Northeast and Southwest “Plazas”

* According to the Landmarks Preservation Commission web site:

How does the Community Board participate in the Public Hearing Process?

[Applicant – in this case City of New York-Parks Department] must present your proposal to your local Community Board before the LPC public hearing. Typically you will appear before the Community Board’s Landmarks Committee; your presentation should be the same one that you use for the LPC. The Committee will then make a recommendation to the full Board, which will send a letter to the LPC stating that the Board supports, opposes or recommends modifications to the application. Failure to appear before the Community Board may result in a negative recommendation from the Board, and can delay the LPC’s final decision on your proposal.

Community Board 2 Chair Brad Hoylman says the Community Board is working on a resolution which will be presented to the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday. It is unclear if that will be a resolution from : the Washington Square Park Task Force? Community Board 2 as a whole? the Parks Committee of CB2? the Landmarks Committee of CB2 ? All of the above?

Mr. Hoylman also informed me that although the Landmarks Committee did not have its own presentation of the plan (it was on the committee’s agenda, and then subsequently removed) – and was not included in the February 4th meeting – that the committee has members who are also part of the Parks Committee (who will give input). I am unclear if that suffices. I was told by a member of the Landmarks Committee that typically when an applicant comes before the committee, the committee is shown: architectural renderings, examples of materials to be used, example of railings and how they are going to join, etc.

In other words, much more detail.

Since the Parks Department only showed minimal information at the Washington Square Park Task Force meeting on February 4th, will they be showing additional information to the Landmarks Preservation Commission? If so, is that acceptable to the Washington Square Park Task Force and Community Board 2?

If you plan to speak at the Landmarks Preservation Commission, please consider orienting your comments to the historical, cultural, and aesthetic aspects of the park’s design plan.

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Details: Tuesday, February 17th, time tbd(to be announced Friday, February 13th), Landmarks Preservation Commission Public Hearing on Washington Square Park Next Phase Redesign, 1 Centre Street (at Chambers), 9th floor, Manhattan

Materials available for Public Viewing in advance as of today, Thursday, February 12th.

Trains: 2, 3, 4, 5, N, R, J, M, Z (Centre-Chambers Streets, City Hall-Brooklyn Bridge stops)

I will update with the time once announced.

Photo: Wally G

New York Times calls for “Improving the Landmarks Process”

If you missed it, Saturday December 6th’s New York Times featured an editorial, “Improving the Landmarks Process,” on the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the focus of a series of articles.

The Times wrote:

Judge Marilyn Shafer of the New York State Supreme Court ruled last month that the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission habitually acted in a manner that was “arbitrary and capricious” and ordered the commission to conduct its business in a more timely manner. Her conclusions are welcome and frustratingly familiar to New Yorkers.

Of course, as is the City’s tendency, The Times writes: “The City plans to appeal. Instead…”

it should reform the commission, which is all that stands between the enormous pressures for development in this city and its priceless architectural heritage.

In addition:

Part of the trouble is that the commission enjoys little political independence. The chairman serves at the mayor’s pleasure; the 11 unpaid commissioners see only the cases the chairman recommends. These are attributes that a pro-development mayor is not likely to want to change.

It was alarming to read that Robert Tierney, the present chairman, was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg five years ago to head the Landmarks Preservation Commission despite having “no background in architecture, planning or historic preservation.”

To read more about some of the Times‘ reporting on this as well as about Washington Square Park and the Landmarks Preservation Commission (actually, I did not even go into the full story which is far murkier than this post reveals), and a chance to see George Vellonakis’s tarnished testimony on the Park’s redesign plan before LPC, see this previous entry.