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Green signs get red light

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It’s another sign of the times.

Neighborhood organizations in two recently landmarked areas within Victorian Flatbush want the city to install brown street signs typical of historic districts, but are upset with the fact that they’ll have to cough up $2,400 to get the job done.

Residents of two adjacent Victorian Flatbush neighborhoods given landmark designation in 2008, Fiske Terrace and Midwood Park — located east of the Brighton Line and west of Ocean Avenue, between Avenue H and Foster Avenue — were shocked to learn the cost of the signs falls on them.

“It’s very disturbing to us, because we’d love to have the signs,” said Paula Paterniti, co-president of the Fiske Terrace Association. “It would do a lot to cement the fact that we are landmarked.”

The city has charged neighborhood associations for the cost of the signs — presently set at $55 each — since a private donation fund ran out.

“As best as we know,” said Lisi de Bourbon, a spokesperson for the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, “civic groups and homeowner associations understand the process and are willing to work with it to help raise awareness about their distinctive neighborho­ods.”

The agency’s non-profit affiliate, the New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation will contribute the first $400 for the signs, de Bourbon said. Sometimes, groups push local elected officials to spend discretionary funds on the signs.

Either way, getting the money together is a burden.

“It does seem kind of crazy” that civic groups would be expected to foot the cost of the signs, said Simeon Bankoff, the executive director of the Historic Districts Council. “It seems like a really small efficiency. It strikes me as something the city should have money for.”

While the number of districts designated varies from year to year, in Fiscal Year 2009, the city designated six historic districts, with 88 corners between them. Assuming each corner got two new signs, 176 signs would be needed for a total cost of $9,680.

The city’s overall budget in 2010 is more than $62 billion.

To come up with the $2,400, the Fiske Terrace Association is considering a fundraiser at its neighborhood-wide yard sale on May 2, as well as asking residents for contributions. They are also looking into getting funding from preservation organizations.

“We’re trying to raise the money, but we’re finding it hard to get the money,” said Paterniti. Taking the money out of operating costs, she stressed, is not an option, because the bulk of the association’s money goes to the annual upkeep of the landscaped city-owned malls running down the center of East 17th Street and Glenwood Road.

Once the signs are paid for, they are installed at no charge by the city’s Department of Transportation, de Bourbon said.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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