The owner of the insignificant Gowanus building that supports the universally-acclaimed Kentile Floors sign has not responded to numerous phone calls regarding plans to remove the iconic signage, and his representative—who quickly shot down similar rumors last year—is equally unresponsive. What are they trying to hide from the public about The Most Precious Sign Of Our Time?

At this point, all we know for sure is that the city issued a permit for the removal of the sign in April, and this week scaffolding went up around it. But now Councilmember Brad Lander is jumping in to try to save the sign.

"I'm deeply distressed to learn of the imminent threat to the Kentile Floors sign," Lander wrote in a statement issued yesterday. "Demolition of this iconic sign would be an enormous loss for Gowanus and for Brooklyn. Sitting eight-stories high, with striking red neon lettering, the decades-old sign is a city treasure, admired every day by straphangers traveling along the Culver Viaduct and drivers on the Gowanus Expressway. In many ways, it stands for Gowanus."

The Kentile Floors factory closed in 1992, but the giant sign has remained intact, to the everlasting delight of Brooklyn straphangers passing by on the elevated F and G trains. And last month it was beautifully illuminated for the first time since the factory ceased operations. If it's taken down, we might as well forget about south Brooklyn altogether and move to Jefftown.

On Wednesday we asked Bryan Kanarek of BKR Partners, which represents Regal Home Collection, the company that owns the building, about the DOB permit. He told us, "I can't talk now. I'm on the other line," and added that because of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, he would be unable to answer questions about the sign until Friday. Well, it's Friday and he's not answering his phone, and neither is building owner Ely Cohen. (His receptionist told us he's not coming in to the office today.)

In an interview with the Times yesterday, Kanarek said the building's owner assured him "nothing’s happening with the sign... they were just doing some maintenance and they weren’t taking it down.” Maintenance. Riiiight. The sign's probably just going to a nice farm upstate where there's plenty of room for it to run around!

Here's the rest of Lander's statement, which concludes with a rousing call for all Kentile Floorheads to attend a community planning meeting on Wednesday June 25 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm at the Wyckoff Gardens Community Center (280 Wyckoff Street). NO JUSTICE NO PEACE!

Last summer, our community was saddened by the removal of the Eagle Clothing sign, another defining feature of the Brooklyn skyline and a significant contributor to the unique character of the Gowanus neighborhood. At that time, my office requested that the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designate the Kentile Floors sign for historic preservation. Sadly, the Bloomberg Administration’s LPC refused to consider designation. I have written to the owner of the Kentile Sign (and the building it sits on), Ely Cohen of Regal Home Collection, imploring him to reconsider removal of this important piece of Brooklyn’s industrial landscape. At the very least, if Mr. Cohen is unwilling to reconsider, he should commit to preserve the sign intact and donate it to a conservation organization for future re-use in the Gowanus area.

In recent months, the Gowanus has witnessed the demolition of several older structures. And many properties have changed hands, at prices far beyond what is merited by the manufacturing zoning in place around the canal. Let me be clear: those who are paying big price tags for industrial buildings in Gowanus and demolishing historic structures on the assumption that they will be able to build market-rate condo buildings like those on Fourth Avenue are making a big mistake.

The Gowanus neighborhood is currently engaged in a community planning process convened by local elected officials. Through this process (Bridging Gowanus) some clear points of consensus have emerged: The Gowanus area must remain mixed-use, with room for manufacturing and artists. If some housing is to be allowed, it must include a significant affordable component. Infrastructure (to address flooding and school overcrowding) and open space are required. The character of the area must be maintained. And local landmarks should not be sacrificed for development. Owners and developers who want to be part of the future of Gowanus would do well to heed the consensus of our community.

Please visit www.BridgingGowanus.org for more information, or join us for a community planning meeting on Wednesday June 25 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm at the Wyckoff Gardens Community Center (280 Wyckoff Street).