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East Villagers Adamantly Take Sides at Historic District Hearing

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The regular shouts of "Louder, I can't hear you!" give a taste of the climate at yesterday's Landmarks Preservation Commission public hearing on the proposed 270-building East Village Historic District. Local residents of the East Village were torn down the middle regarding the designation?so much so that they sat on opposite sides of the room and gave stilted claps when their ‘opponents’ spoke.

The supporters?about half of the people in attendance?were big on restoring the the neighborhood to its former artistic glory. All the speakers in favor of the designation represented non-profits or political offices or were aging, articulate hipsters. But some were ready to rest on the neighborhood's laurels: one resident merely cited the fact that Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, and George Gershwin had all occupied the East Village as reason enough to push through preservation. Cheers erupted from the crowd at nearly ever word spoken, and the supporters wore their bright yellow “Preserve East Village” stickers with pride.

The district's opponents, thought not so intimidating in sheer numbers, were adamant and angry. Members and bishops of the Parish Council of the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection on 2nd Street spoke out about the budget damage that landmarking would cause for their church and others including the Russian Orthodox Cathedral. "They are unreasonable requests given the spiritual permanence of a place of worship,” said Richard Right, a member of the church. There was also the usual concern from apartment owners worried about the elevated costs a landmark designation could incur. Basically, no matter what the LPC decides, someone in the East Village will be pretty angry.
?Arabella Watters
·East Village Historic Districts coverage