ALERT: Dumbo Neighborhood Association Mobilizes to Fight for Landmarking

DUMBO Neighborhood Group Takes on Power Biggies
CONCERTED MOVE TO GET LANDMARK PROTECTION
“BEFORE DUMBO TURNS INTO EVERYWHERE ELSE”

Faced with the continuing erosion of DUMBO’s “special character” resulting from “thoughtless demolition” and “out-of -scale construction,” neighborhood activists have launched a concerted push for landmark protection. The DUMBO Neighborhood Association (DNA) is this week organizing an advertising and mail campaign to ask Robert Tierney, Chairman of the New York City Landmarks Protection Commission (LPC), to schedule hearings.

This is the latest phase of an effort that started in September 2000, when the DUMBO Industrial District was placed on the State and National Register of Historic Places—an honorary distinction, but one that that provides no legal protection. Preservationists made some progress in 2005 when Mr.Tierney toured the area and declared it “protection worthy,” and in 2006, when he promised to hold hearings in “early 2007”.

But when a group of powerful landlord-developers and business interests got wind of the move and lobbied Tierney against designation, he backed away from immediate hearings and said he “now needs to hear from DUMBO resident-owner”. (DNA points out that the financial interest of residents—individual owners of condos, co-ops and brownstones—aggregates a quarter billion dollars, and urges that their investment, as well as their quality-of-life values, deserve protection. Local businesses that thrive because out-of-area visitors perceive DUMBO as a destination also support landmarking.)

Interviewed for this article, artist Doreen Gallo, an early DUMBO pioneer and long-time activist, points to the enormous developmental pressures on this sought-after waterfront enclave—pressures that threaten to destroy the special look and feel of this historically unique neighborhood: its 19th Century industrial workshops and factories, its Belgian block streets and railroad tracks and especially the scale of the old structures. Current overbuilding, she says, is shadowing streets, blocking vistas and violates the context.

The move for designation is given further urgency by what appears to be furtive, illegal and environmentally dangerous demolition now going on. The hurry-up tear-down of a former foundry on Water Street has alarmed immediate neighbors because it entailed the removal of what may contain asbestos waste without the legally required independent third-party air condition monitoring.

“We urge DUMBO residents, concerned artisans and businesspeople to write to the LPC Chairman in support of landmark designation,” Ms Gallo says. “It’s a case of love it or lose it.” (DNA’s website is www.dumbo-dna.org)

Contact: Doreen Gallo (917-596-3901 or [email protected]
Milton Herder, 718-625-2378 or [email protected]

SAMPLE LETTER

Write what you wish, but the following brief note will do. A handwritten
and addressed note and envelop will convey your personal concern.

Robert Tierney, Chairperson
Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre St., 9th Floor
New York, NY 100o7
(Date)

Dear Chairperson Tierney:

I am a resident and property owner* and I support Landmark status for DUMBO without further delay. Furtive destruction of important 19th century industrial structures is happening right now. It is important to act immediately.

Sincerely,
Your Name & address

*If you rent, or own a business say so!

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