A crew of politicians urged the National Guard to allow the restoration of two dilapidated and deteriorating historic buildings at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Wednesday, though army officials continued to insist that one of the buildings is simply too unstable to save.
Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Reps. Nydia Velazquez and Ed Towns pleaded in an open letter that the Army grant “emergency access” to prevent further deterioration of the two buildings that the Navy Yard hopes to preserve.
“Finally, it appeared that we had an agreement to preserve these historic buildings – but bureaucratic hurdles are now getting in the way,” said Schumer, D-NY. “I hope the Army will expedite the process to allow the Brooklyn Navy Yard to save these buildings before it’s too late.”
Navy Yard officials are keen to save two 19th century buildings on Admiral’s Row — the Timber Shed, where ship masts were stored as they cured, and a building (known as “Building B”) that once served as quarters for high-ranking Naval officers — because they are part of its grocery store and shopping area at the corner of Navy Street and Flushing Avenue.
But the buildings remain under the control of the National Guard and have been allowed to deteriorate into a sorry state. The Guard has allocated $2 million to restore Building B, but cites studies that the Timber Shed is so damaged that it is beyond repair — contradicting findings by the Navy Yard.
“Due to health and safety concerns we just can’t let anybody into the Timber Shed,” said Jon Anderson, a spokesman for the National Guard. “It’s just decrepit, we’re not going to let anyone onto the property.”
Anderson added that the stabilization of Building B will likely begin by the end of the month. He also revealed that the long, drawn-out process of transferring title of Admiral’s Row over to the city could be done by the middle of this year, rather than towards the end of 2011.
“We think we can chop a few months of disposal process,” said Anderson. “We’re trying to speed it up.”
Once the Timber Shed is in the hands of the Navy Yard, it may proceed with its own restoration.
But by many accounts the Timber Shed is in such a sorry state that it could collapse at any moment. The building managed to survive the winter, but each new blanket of snow has Navy Yard officials and preservationists biting their nails.
“Time is of the utmost importance to perform the emergency repairs and stabilization of the historic and severely deteriorated Timber Shed and Building B on the Admiral’s Row site,” said Towns, D-Bushwick. “Decay waits for no man or bureaucratic red tape.”