Letters, week of April 5, 2012

N.Y.U. needs to negotiate

To The Editor:
Re “Businesses split on N.Y.U.” (Scoopy’s Notebook, March 29):

Tom Gray’s attack on Villagers for a Sustainable Neighborhood in last week’s issue was misguided. Our position is neither “divisive” nor contentious.

The reason why more than 50 businesses have joined is because we see many benefits of a significantly scaled down New York University expansion. Our position on the N.Y.U. plan is similar to that of other organizations, such as the American Planning Association and the Municipal Art Society, and most recently, Michael Kimmelman of The New York Times.

While we fully recognize the benefits for the neighborhood of a reasonable expansion, we also recognize that the current Midtown-like N.Y.U. plans would overwhelm the community with out-of-scale buildings, reduce the quality of the open space around those new buildings, add unneeded commercial development and increase the traffic in already-crowded subway stations and on our sidewalks.

N.Y.U. should, in good faith, negotiate with our elected officials to find a common-sense solution that significantly reduces the proposed density, expands opportunities for local businesses, creates quality, accessible open space and adds infrastructure improvements that ensure our neighborhood is not completely overwhelmed. The current plan is severely lacking in those regards.

We hope N.Y.U. revises its proposal so it works for both the neighborhood and the university.
Judy Paul
Paul is C.E.O. and owner, Washington Square Hotel

Bloomberg and Occupy

To The Editor:
The Bloomberg administration shows its true disdain or disregard for the First Amendment by the hostile way it engages Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. (This seems to evince a pattern exhibited with the Republican National Convention demonstrators and the Critical Mass bike rides.)

The administration could find and offer any number of public parcels in proximity to Wall St. — in spots that would not significantly disrupt life or business — to the Occupiers for overnight use. Encampments, a historic form of American protest, send a different message than other types of protest, or place a distinct emphasis on a protest. The First Amendment is supposed to accommodate the full spectrum of political messages and peaceful protest accentuation.

The New York Police Department should show zero tolerance for continual drum banging or other noise invading people’s premises or for other illegal activity within an encampment. But if demonstrators conduct themselves quietly and lawfully, the city that never sleeps should conduct itself according to the spirit — and many would argue the letter — of the nation’s highest law of the First Amendment: by accommodating a demonstration which never sleeps.
Alan J. Gerson
Gerson is a former councilmember who represented Lower Manhattan’s First District, and was a First Amendment free speech scholar at Columbia Law School

Village isn’t N.Y.U.’s campus

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. Bike Share on a roll” (news article, March 29):

The article about New York University expanding its Bike Share program refers to “…the university increasing bike parking capacity…externally, with the Department of Transportation installing dozens of bike racks across campus.”

Does this refer to the New York City Department of Transportation installing bike racks for public use in and around Greenwich Village? If so, that is not N.Y.U.’s “campus.”

However, if the bike racks are being installed on university property, then D.O.T. should not be involved.
Jane Barowitz

I was rattled — by a rat

To The Editor:
Re “Tompkins rat rampage has been brought under control” (news article, March 22):

Regarding your front-page article about the rats in Tompkins Square Park, within the past few days, I experienced having a rat cross my path as I walked on the north side of E. 10 St., across the street from the park. It was in the evening, it was a big-sized rat, it came too close, and it rattled me, if you’ll pardon the pun. By your article, things are improving in that department; but I am letting you know that they haven’t reached a satisfactory state as far as I’m concerned. I live a block from the park.

I’m glad to learn that they are spreading rat poison again.

As for the charity organizations handing out food to the vagrants, which leads to garbage left behind in the park, by the ungrateful recipients, I suggest that that practice be discontinued. Let these organizations be forced to hand out the food, if they insist on doing it, at some other location, somewhere far away from the East Village.
Ed Goldsmith

Rat-control ratatouille

To The Editor:
Re “Tompkins rat rampage has been brought under control” (news article, March 22):

Well, I’m glad to hear that the rat problem in Tompkins Square Park has finally been solved… . Except for one minor thing: It hasn’t! Clearly, much effort has been made, and for this the Department of Parks deserves the lion’s share of the credit. The Villager and East Villager, along with TSP3A, deserve kudos for their awareness efforts. There has certainly been noticeable improvement.

But there is still much to be done in the park itself and in the surrounding neighborhood before we can declare anything so bold as “mission accomplished.” First of all, these new rat-proof garbage cans are indeed a blessing. But there are only three or four of them in the entire park. The small, dome-topped cans that have replaced the old-school, open receptacles for the remaining 50 to 70 cans in the park are an improvement but they have big problems, too. They fill up too quickly and the Tompkins garbage collection team simply can’t keep up; so the spring-loaded openings get jammed open with garbage and rats easily get in for a feast. Replace them with the new “super-cans” now.

Second, there is only one garbage can on the perimeter walkway around the entire park (at 10th St. and Avenue A). This means that the thousands and thousands of people who walk around the outside of the park each day have no place to throw their trash. But this doesn’t stop them from tossing it. Just walk around the park any given morning, especially after a warm summer weekend, and you will see garbage tossed over the fence, into the park all along the perimeter, creating a debris path about 3 feet wide.

Placing these new “super-cans” along the outside of the park every 100 feet or so (roughly 25 cans) would go a long way toward eliminating this major source of rat nourishment. I would hope Parks, the Department of Sanitation and TSP3A would take this on as a project before the summer.

Much more attention needs to be paid to the rat burrows: With at least 38 still open, the rats have a free hand in the park.

And the “Feed a Pigeon, Feed a Rat” initiative is a good one but needs to be stepped up with a little more monitoring and promotion. Walking around the park this morning, I saw three entire loaves of bread had been tossed into the park. Gleeful pigeons and squirrels were enjoying their free breakfast.

Finally, none of this effort will yield lasting results unless the initiative becomes a neighborhood-wide, multi-departmental one. The rats will simply move across the street and find food in alleyways, basements, in front of restaurants, supermarkets and grocery stores. We need to enjoin several city agencies to come, work with our community and bait every other local park, alley, every empty lot, every garden, basement and backyard.

The M.T.A. should target the subway tunnels surrounding the East Village. The sewers desperately need to be addressed. And much closer monitoring needs to be done by Sanitation and the Department of Environmental Protection on restaurants, food establishments and residential buildings to ensure they properly dispose of their trash. Sanitation should upgrade all of its street garbage cans as well.

Without this kind of joint effort, it won’t matter how loudly TSP3A screams or how proud of their accomplishments they feel — the rats will still be there, waiting for us to turn our focus somewhere else.

Let’s get the community board, our city councilmember and other elected officials into this game. This has been a good start, an inspiring one, and it shows what can be done if we work together and focus.
Roland Legiardi-Laura

Stick with the mint

To The Editor:
Re “Tompkins rat rampage has been brought under control” (news article, March 22):

My name is Jeff Dussich and you mentioned my company, Mint-X, in your article regarding the turnaround in Tompkins Square Park. Thank you for that. We’re a New York City-based, family-owned business, and our parent company has been in business for more than 50 years here in New York, so we were thrilled to be part of the cleanup efforts right in our own backyard. We posted your article on our Web site and e-mailed it out to thousands of our contacts. Everyone loved it.

While we’re happy to have contributed to the success, if a property goes back to standard trash bags, the rats will come back. We’ve seen it before. Bagged trash provides a veritable smorgasbord for rodents.

We’ve tried continually to contact the Parks Department and let them know that we will provide rodent-repellent trash bags for Tompkins Square Park, and any other New York City park, for the same price as standard (non-repellent) trash bags. For the same price as regular trash bags, the Parks Department will be able to keep rats out of the trash and drive them toward bait stations, traps, etc. — at no increased cost to Parks, New York City or taxpayers. There’s no reason not to use repellent trash bags.

Rodent-repellent trash bags are already being used in parks, schools and transit systems in other major cities around the Northeast. But unfortunately we haven’t been able to get through to the powers that be at Parks. I e-mailed Parks spokesperson Phil Abramson last week and he said he would forward our offer on to procurement, so we’ll see what happens.

Anyway, thanks again for the great article.
Jeffrey A. Dussich
Dussich is chief operating officer, Mint-X® Corporation

It’s really about the rent

To The Editor:
Re “Streaming killed the video star” (“Scoopy’s Notebook,” March 22):

Just to clarify, while streaming videos were a drain on business at the World of Video, the main problem was someone bought our lease. We do have a dedicated group of customers, and if there was a possibility of us moving somewhere with affordable rent, we would do so, and our customers would follow us.
Sean Gallagher
Gallagher is manager, World of Video

What’s Quinn’s beef?

To The Editor:
Re “McDonald’s violence: Quinn and local leaders not lovin’ it” (news article, March 29):

Does the New York City Charter assign any responsibilities to the Council speaker to organize boycotts of restaurants? Recent photos of Council Speaker and aspiring 2013 mayoral candidate Christine Quinn handing out fliers near McDonald’s on W. Third St., urging citizens to boycott it made a great photo-op for her, but missed the bigger picture. It is not the legal responsibility of any business to patrol and protect citizens on public streets outside their establishments. They would be subject to legal liability and potential litigation if their employees violated the civil liberties of citizens on a public sidewalk.

My wife and I periodically shop and dine at a number of restaurants in the Village. There are many other establishments that customers patronize that are used as a base of operations for illegal activities. If the consumption of marijuana and prostitution were both legalized, there would be fewer incidents at this McDonald’s. With our regular police force already overstretched, it might make more sense to ask for auxiliary volunteer police officers to patrol periodically outside this McDonald’s.
Larry Penner

Artist better help animals

To The Editor:
Re “Sculptor dogged by a past act deserves forgiveness” (Clayton, Feb. 23):

I would never purchase Tom Otterness’s art and I would oppose it being installed in any public place in New York City. He should make a very large donation to a New York City animal rescue group.
Donald Loggins

Why single out weed?

To The Editor:
Re “Council votes for medical pot bill” (news article, March 1):

Vallone Jr. should be ashamed of himself and his ignorance on the cannabis issue. Has it struck the councilman that Oxycodone, alcohol and tobacco are all sold near schools?
Thomas J. Hillgardner

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