18 March 2010

The New Lies

The Brooklyn dopes who are fighting the long-needed push to enlarge the Carroll Gardens Historic District—which will curb rampant and irresponsible development—have a new lie to peddle.

Earlier, this brain trust, which seems to have its headquarters at Sal's Pizzeria on Court Street, argued that landmark protection would hurt home owners where in counted most—in their wallet ('cause that's the only thing that matters in this world, right?). Now, they're whistling a different tune, meant to cynically cater to the preservation crowd.

"They just want to re-gentrify and force out whatever elements from the past are left,” John Esposito, who helped form Citizens Against Landmarking (just think about that name for a while), told Brooklyn Paper, which called the landmark movement "a controversial city initiative to widen the area’s historic district" (controversial to whom?). 

Huh? Preservation would force the old elements out, but a free-for-all development atmosphere wouldn't? Right. Minimal landmarking sure helped keep the old Longshoreman's hospital on Court Street around, didn't it? Landmarking isn't going to shove Esposito and his pals aside—that is, unless they're opposed to maintaining their century-old buildings in a decent manner; or had planned to add five stories to the roof. 

Esposito, by the way, is the owner of Sal's. No wonder the movement is centered there. Perhaps he's the entire movement!

The Citizens have a new website (which, curiously, boasts a picture of what looks like DUMBO, not Carroll Gardens). Interestingly, they take a swipe at new Cobble Hill resident Norah Jones as how "the wealthy and politically connected can get around landmarked," unlike poor, working slobs like Esposito and Co. (You know, call me stupid, but I think Esposito, a Carroll Gardens landowner, is probably pretty wealthy.)

Luckily, new area Councilman Brad Lander supports expansion of the historic district. Esposito called Lander’s position "arrogant...His constituents aren’t just the upper class, they’re the people who built this neighborhood. They just want to force [us] out." Jeez. I can't think of any pro-landmarking person who wants to force out the oldtimers. Landmarking advocates support the cause because they think it will retain the old character of the neighborhood.

Maybe Esposito should spend less time creating websites and more time removing the Christmas trees from in front of Sal's. It's almost Easter, John.


Statler and Waldorf said...

Plus their overpriced pizza sucks.

Carl LaFong said...

I'm not against landmarking, but aren't the district's opponents correct in stating that living in a landmark district generally raises homeowners' costs?

If so, I can imagine this would be a serious issue in Carroll Gardens, which probably has a lot of older residents living on fixed incomes. Even if their houses are valuable, they could still be cash poor, without a whole lot of money to spend on home repairs. So people in the neighborhood might be wary of landmarking for some very good reasons, which shouldn't be dismissed as simple whining.

Do you have any evidence that living in a landmark district doesn't raise homeowners' costs?

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Landmarking probably does raise homeowners costs. My point is there are more important things in the world that homeowners' expenses. If you decided to buy and live in a historic building, you are taking on more than simply another personal asset.

Carl LaFong said...

But of course, a lot of homeowners didn't "choose to live in a historic building" when they bought their places, maybe 30 or 40 years ago. Their houses weren't considered "historic" back then.

It's easy for you to sit here and say it's only money, but it's their money, not yours, and if I were given a choice between buying top-of-the-line wood sashes for my house or paying for a year of my kid's college, I'd choose paying for college.

Anyway, I don't think it's fair to simply dismiss people as selfish philistines without acknowledging that repair costs could be a very real concern for a lot of people in this neighborhood.