If after you see the video you have questions, or require more detail, I ask that you consider sending me an email and will let you in on the activities of the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Heritage Council. There are reasons not to be too specific about properties, personnel and logistics, since to a certain extent this is a race against time to beat back the efforts of developers to manipulate our miserably out-dated zoning regulations and their near constant attempts to take advantage of current homeowners. This is an effort best handled face to face and house by house, building by building, block association by block assocation, so we can all recognize our common ground and need to protect certain aspects of the community we call home. Change is good, change is inevitable. But some kinds of change are unbearable and frankly unnecessary.
The nutshell argument is this:
The Prospect Lefferts Gardens Historic District (roughly Fenimore to Lefferts/Sterling) has been extremely successful in maintaining the character of PART of the neighborhood. But its designation in 1979 left out huge chunks of the nabe that have equally historic value. Surprising to some, the same architects and vision were applied to the "other" parts of the neighborhood, even if the Victorian rowhouses of Midwood and Maple are what most people think of when they think of "preservation." Even the pre-war apartment buildings are now nearly 100 years old, with some famous and notorious architects and developers embedded in the history. I'll leave it to Richard Walkes and the rest of the Heritage Council to make their case - they're currently raising money to finish the applications for inclusion on the National Historic Registry and to the City's Landmarks agency. A great deal of research is being done by talented folks. If you join the effort we'll be sure to take you along for the ride, and some of it is just plain fun.
Due in part to the current PLG Historic District, pressure towards new development has been shifted to blocks north and south and east and southwest (like Caledonia), areas with too-high zoning, and to the avenues, without ANY protections or obligation to build affordable (i.e. below market) housing to help preserve the neighborhood's diversity, both income-wise and cultural. It's big stuff, and as I've complained many, many times before here on ye olde blogge, there are some in the community who prefer to do NOTHING rather than plan, landmark and dialogue. Others feel obliged to slow us to a crawl. In a word, it's excruciating to behold.
It may all be too late; it might not work. But it's worth a try. If you have the capacity, please consider a tax-deductible contribution to the non-profit that has been created specifically to address these issues, as they build an all-out multi-block strategy to landmark. At the very least, this new organization will provide a home for the contemplation and discussion of these issues OUTSIDE the older and more well-established Lefferts Manor Association. To a certain extent, these issues are ours - those of us who live on the south side of Fenimore and below. To date, too many decisions and activist actions have been focused to "the north."
Prospect Lefferts Gardens Heritage Council, INC from PLGHC on Vimeo.