Friday, January 18, 2008

Federal Goverment Not Rushing Admiral's Row Decision

Proponents of the plan to tear down the historic structures on Admirals Row in the Brooklyn Navy Yard are upset that the Federal government will not be making a quick decision about the property. The National Guard Bureau of Cultural Resources is required by law to review whether the mansions can be preserved or whether they can be turned over the city for demolition and it says it won't start holding a series of meetings with officials and preservationists until March. Preservationists are cautiously optimistic that the agency is considering saving the buildings. The Brooklyn Paper reports that the tear down has been "delayed indefinitely." Here's an excerpt:
A plan to tear down 10 historic houses at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and replace them with a supermarket has been delayed indefinitely thanks to a decision by federal officials to review whether the dilapidated 150-year-old mansions can be saved.

There is absolutely no way we can give any sort of end date at all … there is no mandated time limit,” said Kristin Leahy, the manager of the National Guard Bureau Cultural Resources Program, which is investigating the mansions’ historical integrity — to the frustration of those eager to see the run-down buildings torn down.

Leahy said the earliest that she could hold a meeting with the city, area residents and preservationists is March. And that meeting would be just the first of a series.

Supermarket supporters say the need of local residents for a supermarket outweighs preserving the buildings and that they are working behind the scenes in Washington to try to speed the process of turning over the land to the city for development.

GL Analysis:
We have said before and we will say again that if Brooklyn officials can not be entrusted with the proper stewardship of an important historic asset, preferring to bulldoze it and build a supermarket and parking, then we would prefer the Federal government to hold on to the property until public officials take office that see the value of Admiral's Row. The National Guard Bureau's approach would indicate that they are interested in helping to work out a compromise that would accommodate the interests of all sides or, at least, that there is some interest in having a public process that appears to be fair.

Admiral's Row is not just a piece of Brooklyn history. It is part of American history, and as such, part of the decision rightly rests with the Federal government. We are not particularly big fans of Federal interference in local affairs or believers that Federal bureaucrats possess wisdom that local officials do not. Quite the contrary, in most cases. Yet, the sad plan to demolish Admiral's Row, which could be an asset for future generations, needs to be stopped.

We believe that any transfer should include a mandate to preserve these historic buildings and that a compromise that would allow for the preservation of Admiral's Row and the construction of a supermarket for residents can be developed. All it requires is the willingness to do so. It might not be the most expeditious or inexpensive solution, but it would be the right thing to do. Much of the historic Navy Yard is slowly falling to the wrecking ball, with photos and pieces of buildings to be displayed in a new historical center. In a city that thought creatively about preserving and capitalizing on the past, parts of the Navy Yard would be an asset that could be preserved and re-purposed.

The least we could expect, though, is that this small and important piece of our heritage be saved so that our children's children can go there someday and understand that something very, very important to the country's history once took place at the Navy Yard. And, that they be able to see some evidence of it that is more real than pictures hanging on a wall in a historical center.

We hope the Federal government brokers a compromise that saves Admiral's Row.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

HEAR HEAR

11:05 PM  
Anonymous pragmatist said...

far wiser to tear down the projects surrounding admirals row. Show me a historical landmark surrounded by poor people and I'll show you a landmark that is empty.

6:32 AM  

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