At its first meeting of the new year, the Park Slope Civic Council announced the two recipients of the 2015 Evelyn and Everett Ortner Preservation Awards. The annual awards program has three objectives: to encourage building owners, architects, developers and contractors to engage in renovations, rehabilitations and expansions of existing buildings and to erect new buildings that are compatible with Park Slope’s original architecture; to motivate individuals and groups to initiate interventions aimed at protecting the appearance of our historic neighborhood; to augment community awareness of the need to preserve the architectural character of Park Slope. The awards were named to honor two preservationists who were leaders in the efforts that began in the 1960s to encourage people to move to Park Slope and comparable neighborhoods which resulted in the revitalization of many historic urban areas throughout the United States. The Ortners also played leading roles in the creation of the Park Slope Historic District. Thanks to the subsequent efforts of Peter Bray and other members of the Park Slope Civic Council, Park Slope is now the largest landmarked neighborhood in New York City.
Preserve Park Slope was granted an award for Neighborhood Intervention. The organization was founded in response to Methodist Hospital’s initial plan to erect a half-million square foot 160 foot tall outpatient facility directly across Sixth Street from the existing hospital that would tower over nearby historic buildings and alter the appearance of our neighborhood. Preserve Park Slope mounted a vigorous campaign, supported by the Park Slope Civic Council, Community Board 6 and a multitude of concerned community residents, that pressed for a project the would be more in harmony with its surroundings. Their legal challenge resulted in changes to the size and configuration of the proposed structure. The awards were accepted by Jarrett Brilliant and Eve Gartner, Co-Presidents of Preserve Park Slope.
The second recipient of an award, also for Neighborhood Intervention, was an informal ad hoc group of five residents of First and Second Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues who banded together and, displaying considerable perseverance, worked collaboratively for three years to get City agencies to clean up the huge mounds of trash in the front and rear yards of a vacant neighboring building. With the help of Councilman Lander’s office, the Department of Health determined that the structure had deteriorated to such an extent that it created “deplorable conditions that constitute a health hazard.” This enabled the yards to be accessed and, thanks to the efforts of city cleanup crews, an exterminator, the neighbors’ labor and workers that they hired, all of the trash was finally removed and carted away by the Department of Sanitation. Those 5 dogged and caring individuals: Michele Sola, Rosemary Spano, Julie Markes, Tamara Draut and Joe Rydell.
The jurors for the 2015 Ortner Awards were Ingrid Abramovitch, architectural writer; Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director, Historic District Council; Bob Braun, architect: Clem Labine, founder: Old House Journal, Traditional Building & Period Homes; Laurie Lieberman, architect; Jean Miele, photographer/educator.
John Casson, the awards administrator, pointed out that “Both interventions demonstrate how initiatives by members of the community can make a positive contribution to the appearance of Park Slope and other brownstone neighborhoods. Hopefully, their actions will be emulated by others.” Casson also announced that Tarzian Hardware has become the sponsor of the annual Ortner Preservation Awards.