Letters, Week of Feb. 28, 2013

Misleading statement by N.Y.U.

To The Editor:
Re “In vino veritas: Liquor store must leave N.Y.U. strip” (news article, Feb. 21):

The last line of this article, in which an N.Y.U. spokesperson states, “Finally, last summer N.Y.U. signed an in-perpetuity lease to provide very affordable housing on its property at 505 LaGuardia Place,” is rather misleading and requires some correction.

First, what was signed was the reset of a ground-rent lease. New York University owns the land on which 505 LaGuardia Place (Washington Square Southeast Apartments), a Mitchell-Lama co-operative, is built, not the building itself.

Second, the affordability of the lease did not arise from N.Y.U.’s spontaneous generosity and civic-mindedness. It was the result of hard-fought, skillful negotiations and considerable concessions on the part of the 505 LaGuardia negotiation team, as well as support and pressure from many elected officials, Community Board 2 and several local groups and organizations, such as Community Action Alliance on N.Y.U. 2031 and Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

Moreover, the “affordable housing” outcome, while extremely beneficial to the residents of 505 LaGuardia, and I think the neighborhood in general, also provided N.Y.U. with extensive legal and political cover for an extremely controversial and unpopular policy of development and expansion in Greenwich Village.
Pat Albin
Albin is president, board of directors, 505 LaGuardia Place

Quinn’s middle-class makeover? Ha!

To The Editor:
Re “Quinn’s middle way” (editorial, Feb. 21):

We live in a country in which the rapidly widening disparity in wealth is greater than in any other country in the world. And we furthermore live in Manhattan, which contains the highest concentration of individuals in the top 1 percent and top one-tenth of 1 percent in wealth: The financial industry and big real estate rule; the rest of us merely serve.

Economists, including Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, have demonstrated a direct correlation between extreme concentration of wealth in the upper percentile and deprivation and poverty among the rest. We all know where outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg fits into this equation. For nearly 12 years we have endured the devastating effects of Mr. Bloomberg’s rarefied crassness, and painfully, the results of his cronies having been appointed to head city agencies that should be regulating conditions for all New Yorkers.

Our neighborhoods have been destroyed for all but those wealthy enough to insulate themselves from diminishing public services on the ground by occupying the towers rising into the skies. Is The Villager to have us believe that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has not been doing the bidding of these powerful interests, that these interests will not extend themselves in order to see her elected as Bloomberg 2.0, and that she will not reward her sponsors handsomely?

Let us focus for a moment on the history that precedes Speaker Quinn’s middle-class “pledge,” her performance on one of the biggest development schemes of the decade, N.Y.U. 2031, also known as the Sexton plan (for N.Y.U. President John Sexton). The Villager did an excellent job of covering Quinn’s July 25, 2012, martinet-like ejection from City Hall of protesters trying to defend their homes and precious public parkland from N.Y.U.’s development arm. How much did Speaker Quinn value the affordable housing of middle-class residents of Washington Square Village and its surrounds?

Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Politically ambitious, Quinn acts expediently but, never as far as I have seen, out of conviction. And it is flat-out naive or disingenuous of The Villager to see as otherwise her recently issued statements designed to refashion herself as a champion of the middle class. As with Mayor Bloomberg, we have had almost 12 years to observe Speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn in action. Her record indicates that her political ambitions are strong, her commitment to public service weak.
Georgette Fleischer
Fleischer is founder, Friends of Petrosino Square

Durst: I do have some experience

To The Editor:
Re “A new vision for Pier 40 and for a truly public park” (talking point, by Tobi Bergman, Feb. 21):

I have been in the visioning business for more than 40 years, so Tobi is right: It is time for me to let others do the visioning. However, I have gained some practical knowledge over the last 40 years. That knowledge led me to believe that building new structures on Pier 40 was impractical, and now Tobi and Friends of Hudson River Park agree, as they no longer are visioning high-rise buildings on Pier 40.

Their new vision is to tear down a part of the pier and build high-rises in the Hudson River Park upland. My experience tells me this also will prove impractical. It will be very expensive, very wasteful and environmentally harmful to tear down a portion of Pier 40. Pier 40 is a very solid and useful structure.

Our lesser vision is to keep, restore and repurpose the existing structure in order to fund the cost of renovating the existing structure, improve the fields, and help fund the Hudson River Park.

Once the decision is made to build housing in the park — and I am very much in favor of building housing in parks — there is no reason to only look at the park in front of Pier 40. There may be better locations, and if so, the parking area in front of Pier 40 could be park instead of high-rise housing.
Douglas Durst

Deep Bialystoker connection

To The Editor:
Re “Bialystoker backers praise historic home at hearing” (news article, Feb. 21):

Sam Solasz was one of the postwar arrivals to the Bialystoker Center who made it into a center of a new life in America for other Holocaust survivors. In turn, Sam’s cohort started helping to fundraise and operate the center and its home for the elderly for many years. Sam is one of the few survivors of the Bialystok Ghetto.
Esther Malka Boyarin

We’ve ‘Observed’ Kushner in Soho

To The Editor:
Re “Fighting corporate ownership of our homes and our stores” (talking point, by Rob Hollander, Feb. 21):

Jared Kushner’s new tenants should be worried. We in Soho have seen how the city government enables Kushner’s companies to ride roughshod over the rest of us. His company has been preparing 200 Lafayette St., at Broome St., for close to a year now.

Since day one, they have falsely claimed that no residences are within 200 feet of the building and have been given after-hours permits to work weekends and 23 hours a day Monday through Friday. They work without permits on federal holidays.

Calls to city officials result in runarounds or dead silence, and calls to 311 do not result in violations. In fact, in respect to working on federal holidays, the inspector wrote that this is not a violation, despite the Department of Buildings Web site clearly instructing that permits are needed for federal holidays.

And the one hour a day they don’t have a permit to work? From 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. they often are loading and unloading equipment and pipes and emptying up to 50 containers. To his tenants: Be strong, be loud, know your rights and work together.
Lora Tenenbaum

We’re sinking fast

To The Editor:
Re “Pink Pony had a great ride, but couldn’t buck changes” (Clayton, Feb. 21):

New York City is being killed every day by greedy developers, rampant landlordism and clueless politicians. The horrifying news never ends. It’s heartbreaking to witness and hear about — like the destruction of Atlantis… .
Nick Zedd

Artists were gentrifiers’ tools

To The Editor:
Re “Let’s get back to our roots: We need new leaders” (Clayton, Feb. 14):

Mr. Patterson puts the cart before the horse. Leaders come out of the people. It used to be that the people of this neighborhood were communists, socialists, even anarchists. Today they are mostly liberals. Liberals don’t care about the poor. They care more about which stores open in the neighborhood than they do about the condition of the people who work in those stores.

And if artists need to live in slums to be creative, there’s no shortage of those in the world.

“The breeding places of disease, the infamous holes and cellars in which the capitalist mode of production confines our workers night after night, are not abolished; they are merely shifted elsewhere! The same economic necessity which produced them in the first place, produces them in the next place also.” (Friedrich Engels, “The Housing Question”)

I don’t know why it is that people isolate the experiences of artists when talking about this neighborhood. The movement of artists into this area occurred during a specific period of time — post-World War II. Artists were not immigrants; they played a significant role in gentrifying this neighborhood.

I’m not hostile to artists, but their plight was the plight of thousands more who had no other options, the way the artists did, to live elsewhere. Today, artists are seen as the victims of gentrification when, in the main, they were the tools of gentrification.
Steven Matthews

Yippies are all fired up

To The Editor:
Re “Takes pot shots at Beal” (letter, by Joseph Marra, Feb. 21):

Joe Marra, you ran the Night Owl Cafe and booked Fred Neil there. In Bob Dylan’s autobiography, “Chronicles,” Dylan calls Fred Neil “an underground cop.”

So you had a undercover narc working for you. Everyone knows that many Greenwich Village venues at this time were controlled by organized crime. Afraid Dana is cutting into the mob’s pot business? Dana had the lowest prices in town.

The Yippies are coming to your home, Marra, for a legal but loud demonstration.
A.J. Weberman

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One Response to Letters, Week of Feb. 28, 2013

  1. Hermann Smith

    Shame on you Christine Quinn, Shame on you Michael Bloomberg….. Today when our subway fares and bridge and tunnel tolls increase, when our schools are in shambles, when property taxes have increased, we should thank our lucky stars (not) that we have someone like Mayor Bloomberg, Christine Quinn and Margaret Chin for giving away hundreds of millions of dollars of valuable city owned park land to the likes of private corporations like NYU and the other top real estate developers for their financial portfolios. Giving the cities park lands and open spaces away is a disgrace in itself, and just plain wrong, but to give the land away for free or next to nothing is a crime. Christine Quinn doesnt seem to care one bit about those that voted her in office, but instead only to the real estate developers who donate to her campaign. And the fact that most of our city newspapers dont cover the story…. well there is something very fishy going on here.

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