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Update from the Landmarks Conservancy – Preservation Services

We continue to hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well.  With the spring religious observances, this is a special week for many New Yorkers, usually spent with family and friends. In this strange new time, we hope you feel that everyone is still connected.

We are all trying to do what we can do to help people during this crisis. Our expert preservation services staff is still available to help with building questions and referrals to skilled professionals. Building issues crop up at any time. I like to think of us as “the Ghostbusters of preservation.” Who ya gonna call?

Alex Herrera and Colleen Heemeyer handle the majority of the more than 600 calls we receive each year asking for preservation help. The questions range from brownstone and stoop repairs, window repair and replacements, to help with applying for Landmarks Preservation Commission permits. One of the most popular things we ever did was put out tips for safe ice removal from sidewalks and steps during one particularly cold winter. The tips were picked up and reprinted all over the place. And they prompted one of our more unusual calls.

Alex Herrera and Colleen Heemeyer
Alex Herrera and Colleen Heemeyer

Colleen found herself speaking to a man from Delta Junction, Alaska, population 958. He wanted to know why none of the products we recommended for ice removal were available there. Colleen had to tell him that, with temperatures there reaching minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit—it was too cold for the products to work.

Another unusual caller asked Colleen how to remove fried chicken grease from her stoop. Ever resourceful, Colleen told her to apply a poultice of cleaners to slowly draw out the grease.

We handle the majority of calls over the phone—and now by email . But we have also made house visits in some more puzzling cases. A West Side townhouse owner called Alex to say that her plumbers failed to find why she was experiencing leaks in her walls. She was getting very upset with no way to stop the damage. Alex went there and realized that an internal leader (drain) in the adjacent townhouse was leaking and causing her problems. His expertise helped her negotiate with her neighbors and get the leader repaired.

“People in general seem to really appreciate speaking to someone with knowledge about maintenance and restoration issues,” Alex says. “They seem quite grateful for our advice and referrals.“

Mark Weber and Blaire Walsh also have great technical backgrounds in preservation and have volunteered to back up Alex and Colleen if needed. So—“Who ya gonna email?

Last week’s message focused on our Historic Properties Fund loan program. We’re pleased that Habitat Magazine has featured one of our loans that “rescued” a Queens co-op.

Our “Tourist in Your Own Town” videos continue to be featured in online publications and newsletters. And we’ve learned that the fourth graders at Muscota New School P.S. 314 in Inwood are now viewing more of our videos that highlight New York City’s role in the Revolutionary War.

Our videos have now reached New York City fans in 50 different countries.

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We will get through this.  In the meantime, the Conservancy will stay on top of issues and continue our programs in the best way we can. We will always work to preserve the City we love.

For more information about our programs, visit our website nylandmarks.org. If you have questions, you can find all the staff email contacts there as well.

Best wishes from all of us

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