Foes of Historic District Plan Emerge

Historic buildings of the EVDavid Jarrett The leaders of two local houses of worship have emerged as critics of the proposed historic district in the East Village.

Thus far, the proposed East Village historic district has been met with relatively little opposition — but that looks as if it is going to change.

The leaders of two local houses of worship have emerged as outspoken opponents of the proposed district in the neighborhood, which they say would lead to unnecessary expense and bureaucratic inconveniences.

Rabbi Pesach Ackerman of the Congregation Meseritz Syngg on Sixth Street and Father Christopher Calin of the Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection both bristled at the notion that they would have to get approval from the city Landmarks Preservation Commission before renovating the exteriors of their religious institutions.

“Once you’re landmarked, you’re not the owners of the building anymore,” said Mr. Ackerman, who has been the Rabbi of Meseritz Syngg for 42 years. “Anything you do, you have to ask their permission.”

Representatives from both institutions, along with those in favor of the district, are expected to speak on Thursday during a meeting of Community Board 3, which will be dedicated to the proposal.

Preservationists have pressed for the district encompassing much of Second Avenue south of St. Marks Place, as well as one block of 10th Street, as a way to protect the neighborhood from future development. Put simply, a historic landmark district preserves the exterior of the buildings that sit within the district’s boundaries.

“If the Landmarks Preservation Commission moves ahead with the designation, all of these institutions, in one form or another, will be able to thrive,” said Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

Mr. Berman added that there are forms of financial aid and other provisions in place to help the owners of any landmarked buildings who may not have the money to maintain their property.

But Mr. Calin, who had also opposed a landmark designation of the church on Second Street last year, scoffed at the philosophical underpinnings of the process.

“We’re here to be an organic, living community — not a museum,” said Mr. Calin. “To them, we could just as easily be a Gap or an American Apparel.”

A spokeswoman for the Landmarks Preservation Commission, Lisi de Bourbon, said that a public hearing has been approved for the historic district, but that an official date has not been set.

“We will work in partnership with these two congregations to address their concerns if they’re designated,” she added.

The meeting of Community Board 3’s Landmarks Subcommittee will be held at 41 Cooper Square between Sixth and Seventh Streets on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

This post has been changed to correct an error; a previous version gave an incorrect surname for Rabbi Ackerman.