109 East 50th Street and Park Ave, St. Bartholomew’s Church, application to install stair enclosure.
WHEREAS, St. Bartholomew's Church, built in 1919, designed by eminent architect, Bertram G. Goodhue, incorporating the 1902 McKim, Mead & White entrance portal of the previous St. Bartholomew's Church on Madison Avenue, is a prominent New York City Landmark; and
WHEREAS, This Romanesque Church provides a harmonious setting for the Stanford White portal and gives Park Avenue, between East 50th and 51st Streets an oasis of open space, color, variety of form and detail; and
WHEREAS, Around its large, open terrace at the East 50th Street corner are arrayed picturesque polychromed forms that rise to the ample dome of the Church; and
WHEREAS, In 1983 the Church began an effort to obtain permission from LPC to demolish the Community House and terrace in order to build a high rise office tower on the site; and
WHEREAS, Community Board 5 spearheaded the opposition to this proposal which was ultimately denied by the U.S. Supreme Court, after two failed attempts to convince the LPC of a "financial hardship" justification; and
WHEREAS, This 4,200 square foot terrace is now used as a restaurant with tables and chairs in warm weather and contains planters all year round; and
WHEREAS, The terrace contains an open, unenclosed stairwell, part of the original Goodhue design, that leads one flight down to a metal door with a panic bar that permits emergency egress to East 50th Street; and
WHEREAS, There is access to the Community House/gymnasium one floor below the street level, from a stair landing in the stairwell at street level, also used primarily for emergency egress; and
WHEREAS, Currently, the open stairwell at the terrace is covered by an unsightly makeshift tarpaulin, affording limited protection from the elements and no security from trespassers when the terrace is not in use; and
WHEREAS, There is reportedly water seepage as a result of an inadequate enclosure, potentially allowing structural damage to the Church to occur; and
WHEREAS, Community Board 5 cannot be certain that structural damage would eventually occur or that a terrorist threat is serious, it is reasonable to assume that the Church would not be undertaking the expense this project if it did not believe so; and
WHEREAS, The Church has proposed a solution to both the problems of exposure to the elements and protecting the stairwell from intruders, using a tempered glass and metal retractable enclosure which is minimally invasive and only slightly noticeable from the public thoroughfare or the terrace itself, especially when planters and outdoor furniture are in place on the terrace; and
WHEREAS, The proposed enclosure could be locked when the terrace is not in use and retracted and left open when egress is necessary; and
WHEREAS, Although the materials to be used and the appearance are not original to the design of the edifice in any way, Community Board 5 finds this a practical and acceptable solution to the contemporary problems facing the Church; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, Community Board 5 recommends that LPC approves the application of St. Bartholomew's Church, 109 East 50th Street (corner of Park Avenue), to install a stair enclosure at the terrace stairwell.
The above resolution passed by a vote of 18 in favor; 8 opposed; 1 abstaining; 1 present not entitled.