The Park Slope Civic Council presented the second annual Evelyn & Everett Ortner Preservation Awards to the 2015 recipients on Friday, January 7, 2016. This year, both recipients received recognition under the category for Neighborhood Intervention, which is described as an action by an individual or group to prevent the demolition or disfigurement of a historic structure.
The award is named in honor of Evelyn Ortner (1924-2006) and Everett Ortner (1919-2012). The couple was pivotal to the revitalization of the now historical Park Slope neighborhood.
The first award was received by the Preserve Park Slope organization, which was founded in response to Methodist Hospital’s initial plan to erect a half-million square foot 160-foot tall outpatient facility on 6th Street directly across from the existing hospital.
Preserve Park Slope was concerned with how this proposed facility would dramatically alter the appearance of the neighborhood and would diminish the aesthetically pleasing nearby historic buildings.
“Preserve Park Slope is a community-based organization that cares about our neighborhood, our borough, and our city,” said Jim Salie, who worked on the project. “We came together under the belief that preserving the high quality of our neighborhood is not inconsistent with the ability to offer world-class medical services.”
The organization’s legal challenge resulted in changes and a new proposed building plan that would be more in harmony with its surroundings while encouraging the expansion of the hospital to meet the need of the community. The award was accepted by Jarrett Brilliant and Eve Gartner, Co-Presidents of Preserve Park Slope.
The second award was received by an informal ad hoc group of five residents of 1st and 2nd Streets between 7th and 8th Avenues who banded together with considerable perseverance and worked collaboratively for three years to get city agencies to clean up the huge mounds of unsightly rubbish in the front and rear yards of a vacant neighboring building.
With the help of Councilmember Brad Lander‘s office, the Department of Health determined that the structure had deteriorated to such an extent that it created “deplorable conditions that constitute a health hazard.” Group member Rosemary Spano discussed the project, saying “[t]his was a real team effort that required perseverance over several years. At times, I would get exhausted and give up for a while but ultimately it was like a relay race. We worked together to get the clean up done and the city to do its part.”
Another group member Julie Markes shared the sentiments of needing to work together by noting, “It takes a village!” After many years, letters, phone calls, and hard work the rubbish was finally removed providing a cleaner, safer environment for the surrounding neighbors.
“With so many things one could be disgruntled about in this world and this neighborhood, it means a lot to know there are champions of efforts, small and large, to make Park Slope a better place,” said award recipient Michele Sola.
The Ortners’ efforts began in the 1960s and their passion to restore, renovate, and rehabilitate the neighborhood inspired transformation across other urban neighborhoods in the United States.
John Casson, the awards administrator, noted that with this year’s recipients, “both interventions demonstrate how initiatives by members of the community can make a positive contribution to the appearance of Park Slope and other brownstone neighborhoods. Hopefully, their actions will be emulated by others.”
Casson also announced that Tarzian Hardware has become the sponsor of the annual Ortner Preservation Awards.