December 2016
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Archive for December, 2016

Please meet Elizabeth Goldstein

Dear Friends of MAS,

President of The Municipal Art Society of New York Elizabeth Goldstein

Elizabeth Goldstein

We want to share some important information about the future of this extraordinary organization and its essential role fighting for the responsible growth of New York City. The Board believes it is fundamentally important that we continue to strengthen MAS’ position as a central player in shaping this city’s future. MAS will continue to be an advocate for all those who love New York and understand that the pursuit of great design, preservation and livability requires both vigilance and action.

Elizabeth Goldstein, nationally-known as a tenacious and remarkably effective advocate for parks, open spaces and historic preservation with deep roots here in New York, will become the next president of MAS.

Elizabeth will assume her new role in February, following a brief transition period that will be overseen by our CFO, Bob Libbey. Elizabeth’s appointment was approved at a meeting of current board members and emeriti yesterday.

Elizabeth grew up in the Soundview neighborhood in the Bronx and was a central player in New York’s parks, recreation and historic preservation sector for more than a decade. She served as director of planning for the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation, and later as New York City regional director of the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, where she oversaw the start-up of Riverbank State Park and served on the panel that developed the public-private land use plan for Hudson River Park.

Following a move to the West Coast, for the last 12 years Elizabeth has been the president of the California State Parks Foundation (CSPF), an independent organization dedicated to protecting, enhancing and advocating for California’s 279 state parks. The Foundation is tasked with building awareness about the parks system and its needs—with special focus on legislative and policy advocacy—and raising private funds for state parks projects in partnership with non-profit organizations that support the system. Elizabeth raised nearly $20 million for key capital projects, lobbied the California legislature to secure $90 million in deferred maintenance funding, and built and led coalitions that prevented closures of state parks and turned back incursions like energy lines and toll roads into state parks. Under her leadership, the Foundation dramatically increased its membership and doubled its operating budget.

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Just In: 10 New Landmarks Designated

The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s (LPC) Backlog Initiative continued Tuesday with the designation of ten new properties. Thirteen sites located across the five boroughs were on the agenda. However, the LPC chose to postpone one decision and removed another two from the calendar entirely.

Brooklyn

  • 183-195 Broadway Building*
  • St. Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church (138 Bleecker Street)*

Bronx

  • Immaculate Conception Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary (375-395 E 150th Street)
    • Removed from calendar, designation faced owner opposition

Queens

  • Protestant Reformed Dutch Church of Flushing (143-11 Roosevelt Avenue)*
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MAS Testimony to the New York City Council Committee on Economic Development regarding Transparency & Reform of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and Intros. 1316 and 1337

The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) supports Intros 1316 and 1337 with our recommendations included herein. The proposed legislations by the City Council would amend the City Charter and Administrative Code to improve transparency and accountability for actions undertaken by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) under contract with the New York Department of Small Business Services (SBS).

Background

Intro 1316 would require EDC to include the City Comptroller or the Comptroller’s appointee on its board, share project data on the City’s open data portal, publicly release reports on the fiscal, social, and environmental impacts of projects, and hold public hearings in the communities affected by projects it undertakes.

Intro 1337 would require EDC to submit a project description and budget to the local Community Boards, Council Members, Borough Presidents for review before project agreements can be executed or projects can be approved by the Mayor.

In addition to its primary function of stimulating economic development in New York City, EDC plays a significant role in many of the city’s land use and planning projects and initiatives. Similar to the Department of City Planning (DCP) and the City Planning Commission (CPC), which are authorized under the City Charter to make discretionary planning decisions, EDC often serves as lead agency for actions subject to environmental review, coordinates with other city agencies, issues RFPs, selects consultants, facilitates public participation efforts, and represents the Mayor’s Office in negotiations for actions subject to ULURP.

In terms of its land holdings, according to the City-Owned and Leased Properties dataset maintained by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS), EDC manages a total of 160 properties, encompassing over 17 million square feet of land. Fifty-five of these holdings are categorized as properties with “no current use” and 97 are committed for sale or long-term lease. The full list of these holdings is provided as an attachment to this testimony.

However, according to its asset management online map, EDC manages over 20 million square feet of property and a total of 108 sites. Based on these informational discrepancies, we feel the improvements proposed under 1316 with regard to EDC’s datasets are well warranted.

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MAS Testimony to the New York City Council Committee on Parks and Recreation regarding Parks Department properties currently inaccessible to the public

The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) supports opening and improving public access to city-owned properties. As residents and taxpayers of New York City, we depend on the effective management, protection, and enhancement of what is collectively ours–parks, open space, monuments, streetscapes, infrastructure, views, and other intangible resources.

This week MAS released a first-of-its-kind interactive tool to map the more than 14,000 city-owned and leased properties, amounting to a land area the size of Brooklyn. This online tool uses two datasets provided by New York City: MapPLUTO and City Owned and Leased Properties (COLP). MAS encourages the members of this committee and the public at large to examine these holdings with our new tool and identify opportunities for improving, protecting, and utilizing city-owned property. (Visit mas.org/colp)

MAS commends the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) for successfully managing a vast inventory of holdings. According to the COLP dataset, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services oversees 1,679 properties “with no current use,” the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) has 1,050, and DPR has just one! However, opportunities for improvement remain substantial.

According to the use codes provided by the COLP dataset, there are 90 city-owned park properties characterized as “undeveloped open space,” accounting for approximately 191 acres of land (see attachment). Seventy-four of these sites are located within the boundaries of the Community Parks Initiative, a program led by DPR aimed at redeveloping parks in underserved communities. This presents an opportunity to maximize each of these holdings for the communities that need them most.

Meanwhile, thirty-two properties classified as undeveloped open space are located along Southern Boulevard and Jerome Avenue in the Bronx. Both of these areas are undergoing neighborhood planning studies under the Department of City Planning (DCP) PLACES initiative. Another thirty-one properties labeled as undeveloped open space are in the Edgemere Urban Renewal Area in the Rockaways. Similarly, Edgemere is undergoing a planning initiative for redevelopment, an effort lead by HPD. MAS urges the city to closely examine underutilized city-owned park properties within the boundaries of these planning initiatives and explore possibilities for developing recreational facilities, cultural amenities, coastal protection, and other appropriate uses.

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