New York Observer
March 14, 1988
Rational Balance Sought

To the Editor:
Do you really expect your readers to take seriously what you publish about New York's landmarks when you show a drawing of the Appellate Division courthouse at 25th Street and Madison Avenue, but caption it as the (former) U.S. Custom House at Battery Park (sic: the Old Custom House is at Bowling Green)?

But worse yet when you print drivel such as Tom Robbins's article praising Landmarks Commissioner member Anthony Tung [Feb. 22]. Mr. Tung's obsessive zealotry has blinded him to the necessity to look at each case objectively and dispassionately. Instead, Mr. Tung brings to bear only his peculiar emotional biases and his imprudent outbursts of paranoia. His Letter to the Editor published in the New York Times on Jan. 11 was a particularly blatant example of his defensiveness, in this case against a wise and thoughtful editorial of Roger Starr that sought to bring some rational balance to the landmark designation process.

And rational balance is indeed needed when Landmarks Commissioner Gene A. Norman makes the astounding double-speak statement (in a letter to this writer) that it is irrelevant to the Commission's designation of a theater interior whether or not the particular theater is still capable of functioning as a theater! And Mr. Norman makes the equally Alice-in-Wonderland assertion that it is of no concern to the landmarks panel whether or not the requisite restoration work needed to preserve or restore a landmark is even remotely within the realm of economic possibility.

The preservation of New York's landmark-quality architecture cannot be merely an academic exercise. The realties of economics and of the need for the city to maintain its viability in all spheres of activity cannot be buried under the rhetoric of one-track zealots such as Anthony Tung and their apologists such as Tom Robbins.   Andrew Alperin, Manhattan