Letters, Week of August 23, 2012

The truth hurts, and how

To The Editor:
Re “Top 10 outrageous things about N.Y.U. plan approval” (talking point, by Andrew Berman, Aug. 16):

Truisms:

New York City is owned lock, stock and barrel by real estate interests.

Our elected officials are not leaders; they follow the money the real estate interests use to fuel their re-election campaigns.

If you can destroy the building where Edgar Allan Poe lived when he revised and published “The Raven,” and if you can destroy Eugene O’Neill’s and E.E. Cummings’s Provincetown Playhouse, you can do anything, with impunity.

And what about the added strain on our aging infrastructure — water, sewage, electricity, gas, phone, cable? Will N.Y.U. pick up the tab if any of these interstitial necessities collapse? Or is this just another burden we taxpayers and consumers will have to bear?

New windows? Hah! (Any mention of whether N.Y.U. will install these windows, or merely leave them on the stoops?)

Finally, when is the city going to cede Washington Square Park to N.Y.U. — privatize it — so that our elected officials can continue to claim that they’re not increasing our taxes? That’s surely the next step.
Glenn Bristow

So grateful for Berman

To The Editor:
Re “Top 10 outrageous things about N.Y.U. plan approval” (talking point, by Andrew Berman, Aug. 16):

Andrew Berman is this generation’s Jane Jacobs and I am so grateful that he fights for the Village. Thank you, Andrew. Even if we lose this battle you will always be remembered for your effort in doing what was right.
Laura Bong

You’ve got to be kidding!

To The Editor:
Re “Hot Stuff! Park benches are unfit to sit, hit 125 degrees” (news article, Aug. 16):

According to its spokesperson, the Parks Department is relying on future tree growth to shade and cool the black, hot-seat benches in Washington Square Park. However, most exposed hot seats are nowhere near the tree lines, especially on the eastern part of the park.

This is more pablum that the Bloomberg administration feeds the public, and is not much better than its deafening silence on the disappearance of St. Vincent’s Hospital.
Vahe A. Tiryakian

And after all that…

To The Editor:
Re “Hot stuff! Park benches are unfit to sit, as they hit 125 degrees” (news article, Aug. 16):

And it took forever to “remake” that park. More than half the park was unusable at any given time for about four years.
Patricia Bellucci

Just gimme that shimmy

To The Editor:
Re “Burlesque will be on the menu with stripped-down poetry club” (news article, Aug. 2):

Aww, honey. … Does K Webster think that we make money off this job? Do you think that we do burlesque to pay the rent and feed our babies? This is my hobby that I look forward to every week. It’s a highly expensive hobby. I actually would be rolling in dough if I wasn’t spending so much money on my awesome costumes. Some of us ladies simply love our bodies and love the stage.

Are you going to tell me that my “DragonBall Z” act in which I spend most of my stage time transforming into a Super Saiyan is a result of being exploited by a male-dominated society?

We are artists. Just because it isn’t your same definition of art, doesn’t mean you should pity us and discriminate against us. We do what we do because we love it.
Stella Chuu

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3 Responses to Letters, Week of August 23, 2012

  1. Two months ago, my wife and I flew to Houston, Texas, for a family celebration. On the way from the airport to our motel, out taxi crawled through heavy traffic on a 10-lane super-highway past endless rows of one-story shopping malls. I was immediately reminded of the ugliest row of buildings in Manhattan: the east side of LaGuardia Place between Bleecker and Third Streets. Andrew Berman is fighting to save those buildings.

    Berman says the proposed Zipper Building “will be the largest building ever constructed in Greenwich Village.” Large buildings are part of the secret of New York’s success. In particular, they make public transportation convenient and affordable. Our traffic jams are bad enough. Do we want to have our automobile traffic be as bad as it is in Houston or Los Angeles? Texans, by and large, oppose public transportation since it is supported, in part, by (shudder!) taxes. Does Andrew Berman want to sound like a Republican?

    I am not at all sure that I support the N.Y.U. proposals. However, the arguments I am reading against them are making me feel that they are not such a bad idea after all.

    • Dear g-jochnowiz: If you're comparing the one-story establishments lining the east side of LaGuardia Pl. — namely, the liquor store and eateries directly below Citibank — with Houston shopping malls, you've completely lost me. I would wager that anyone else living in the immediate neighborhood is left scratching their heads by such an incongruous comparison. If you find this innocuous row of low-lying buildings to be the "ugliest row of buildings in Manhattan," your standard for the latter must be Gramercy Park. These spaces on LaGuardia will never be confused with the architectural vanguard of Tadao Ando or Rafael Viñoly — nor should they be. They're modest-sized restaurants. And they — Favela Cubana, the recently-opened Dacha and Bare Burger, all featuring outdoor patios — are very popular with residents and tourists alike. If anything, the only regret is that the old-time neighborhood favorite Ennio & Michael had to shut down. And why? Because it could no longer afford NYU's rent: http://ny.eater.com/archives/2010/07/nyus_rent_in

      It doesn't sound as if much that Mr. Berman — or the article's readers — had written swayed you with regard to the threat that NYU 2031 poses on a larger scale — and not only to the Village (on the environmental, health-related and economic fronts) but also to the University itself (academic reputation, faculty retention and recruitment, climbing student tuition and exploding student debt, the University's own fiscal health … to name but the heaviest costs). To this day, the administration hasn't explained why only 18% of the behemoth 1.9 million sq. ft. plan is intended for academic instructional use — as opposed to dorms, offices and a new gym (to replace one that was no more than 40 yrs old). The chief culprit is, in fact, NYU's lax admissions policy — to say nothing of its Financial Aid office, the stinginess of which stands in direct inverse proportion to the Admissions Office's permissiveness.

      But be that as it may, if your greatest interest in the expansion is architectural, I would strongly recommend you and anyone else interested in architectural design and urban planning — as they relate to the NYU administration's expansion — to read the following piece by James S. Russell, if you haven't done so already:
      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-03/nyu-atta

      This well-argued (yet scathing) indictment of the plan’s architectural failings is penned by one of New York’s best-known architecture and design columnists. So, you don't have to take my word on the plan's failings. If anything, I would challenge anyone not employed by the University to say a single positive thing about its design or sustainability components without growing a nose as long as Pinocchio's.

      In short, if you are somehow turned off by the architecture that you see on LaGuardia Pl. just wait a few more years to see what the NYU administration has planned for what is currently the only green space left within blocks and blocks of Washington Sq Park in the two residential complexes hard by LaGuadia (i.e., Washington Sq. Village and Silver Towers). It will make your hair stand up on end. Houston … L.A.? At that point, we will all be praying for any alternative!

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