By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Sunset Park’s architecture, which includes blocks of rowhouses built for working class families at the turn of the last century, has drawn the attention of a citywide preservation group.
The Historic Districts Council (HDC), an organization which works to preserve the look of New York neighborhoods, has named Sunset Park as one of its “Six to Celebrate,” a designation given to communities with distinctive architecture and historic features.
Sunset Park joins such neighborhoods as Greenpoint in Brooklyn the Lower East Side and Tribeca in Manhattan, Harrison Street on Staten Island, and the Bronx Parks system on the ‘Six to Celebrate” roster.
In its announcement, the HDC http://hdc.org/featured/six-to-celebrate-2013-neighborhoods described Sunset Park’s elegant rowhouses and its “impressive religious and institutional buildings” as reasons for its selection.
Each year, the HDC selects six communities to celebrate. The designation means that neighborhoods will be priorities for HDC’s advocacy efforts. The HDC will work with community groups in the chosen neighborhoods on preservation.
The six neighborhoods are selected from application s submitted to HDC from civic groups.
Last year, the HDC named Bay Ridge one of its “Six to Celebrate.”
The designation for Sunset Park is sure to provide fuel to an ongoing effort by a local group to save buildings in the community from demolition at the hands of developers.
The Sunset Park Landmarks Committee http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sunset-Park-Landmarks-Committee/428220690584705 has been working for many years to preserve the look and character of the community. Many of the houses lining the tree-lined streets were built between 1890 and 1910.
“The Committee feels that preservation is important to Sunset Park’s future. We’re fortunate to live in this remarkable neighborhood; it is our responsibility to act as worthy stewards so that future generations will have this place to cherish too. We are committed to educating our neighbors and fellow community members about how this can be accomplished, and we’re dedicated to working with our representatives in government to ensure Sunset Park will be given the resources necessary to attain this goal,” committee leaders said in a statement.
Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez (D-Sunset Park-Red Hook) wrote a letter to the HDC in October, 2011, supporting the inclusion of Sunset Park in the “Six to Celebrate” program. “By selecting Sunset Park for the 2013 ‘Six to Celebrate’ program, the Historic Districts Council will offer invaluable advocacy and consultation to the local community,” she wrote.
Gonzalez said she was pleased when the HDC designated Sunset Park for the program.
Gonzalez worked with Community Board Seven and civic groups a few years ago to convince the City Planning Commission to re-zoning a 125-block area of the neighborhood. The re-zoning was needed to protect the rowhouses and low density buildings from being torn down and replaced by high-rises, Gonzalez said.
Despite the re-zoning, there is still a concern that buildings in unprotected areas of the community will be torn down and replaced with high-rises, Gonzalez said.
Still, she expressed confidence that Sunset Park will be saved. “I am so grateful for concerned residents like Darleen Vecchio and the members of the Sunset Park Landmarks Committee who commit so much of their time to help Sunset Park continue to improve. When we come together in partnership great things like this can happen,” Gonzalez said.