Letters, Week of March 14, 2013

Trust needs new leadership

To The Editor:
Re “Pier 40 reality” (editorial, March 7):

This was a well-written editorial that really synthesizes what has been happening. I’m glad The Villager and our local politicians have taken a firm stance against residential development in Hudson River Park. I am totally opposed to this desperate solution. I’m stunned Madelyn Wils of the Hudson River Park Trust would be in favor. The Trust needs new leadership.
Kate Walter

Killing the golden goose

To The Editor:
Re “Pier 40 reality” (editorial, March 7):

As a Tribeca parent whose family makes regular use of Pier 40, I strongly recommend that any communication from you and your staff on the topic of Pier 40 point out the fact that Pier 40 generates a massive amount of money each year — more than enough to keep up with its own needed repairs — which the Hudson River Park (Dis-)Trust has year in and year out drained away for other uses, ignoring the physical depletion of the very structure that generates much of the Trust’s own yearly budget.

This calculated and cynical killing of the golden goose is reprehensible, and those overseeing Pier 40’s slow ruin should be called onto the carpet for their Tammany Hall scheming.

Please give the Trust the message loud and clear — they and their real estate developer friends are greedy crooks, pure and simple.

P.S., I should first have said a big “thank you” for your perspective on this issue and for publishing the piece in the first place. So, thank you!
B.G. Dilworth

Yes, but what is Glick for ?

To The Editor:
Re “Pier 40 reality” (editorial, March 7):

The latest e-mail blast from Assemblymember Glick has quickly seized upon The Villager editorial as proof of mandate, when that is far from the case. She says that The Villager editorial “demonstrates that while I have been a leader on a commonsense approach to Pier 40 and the Hudson River Park, I am hardly alone in my opinions, as a recent New York Times article might have led you to believe.”

So it’s all about her and her staunch stance against housing. That’s defense, not offense. This is exactly what the problem is for so many of us who also categorically reject housing and have never wavered on that point. We don’t see a “leader on a commonsense approach” — we see only a “defender against an undesirable approach.”

Great, we agree we’re not for housing — what next? With no money for repairs, no tax plan, no alternative ideas, or even a search for alternative ideas coming out of Glick’s office, where does that leave us?

In my opinion, Glick is holding onto Pier 40 like it is a political and rhetorical lifeboat, a remnant of a ship long ago sunk by the creation of the Hudson River Park Act. It’s as if her ideological victory and legacy are more important than a robust community process and creative solution. If she is going to deny change then she must be the individual most out in front of this problem.

It has to be item No. 1 on her agenda, coming up with money or ideas for a solution, guiding or hand-holding good ideas through to an R.F.P. (request for proposals). In all this time, this has yet to happen.

Regarding the debate about whether or not the pier is threatened — and outside of the Hudson River Park Trust’s rhetoric, the clock is definitely ticking — we must err on the side of the pier’s being genuinely at risk, as evidenced by visible and dangerous deterioration.

Both Glick and The Villager have gone too far in suggesting that there be any relaxing of the presumption that Pier 40 is in imminent danger. There is conflict ahead; let’s not be coy about the continued difficulties inherent in the park act. Charrette? Let’s go. Maybe there’s a safe space at Pier 40 where it can be held.
Patrick Shields

Bialystoker article was beautiful

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

Of all the neighborhood news in The Villager and East Villager, what is most interesting for me is reading about our historic buildings and the efforts to landmark and preserve them. Terese Loeb Kreuzer’s article on the Bialystoker Home is eloquently written. At the article’s end, I had tears in my eyes, as did some of those who attended the Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing.

The immigrant experience resonates with so many who live here in the East Village. We identify with the historic buildings we pass by every day. Their presence brings back memories of our families who came to this part of New York City from around the world.
June Hildebrand Abrams

Bitter feelings about BID

To The Editor:
Re “Soho BID Showdown” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Feb. 28):

Residents don’t want clean streets? Who told the guy this? It will only cost $1? Yeah, right. And with it, ACE and its BIDDERS will gain control of what happens on Broadway in Soho.

Sure, residents would have a say…but that doesn’t mean their say would have any impact. Especially with most of the business improvement district board’s members being representatives from large, even international, real estate concerns, plus, sadly, a city councilperson such as Margaret Chin.

And with the structure, condo owners (many of them non-New Yorkers whose Soho residences are pied-à-terres) will have more say than those owning co-operatives. Of course, the co-op residents always contributed to ACE. It was these big real estate concerns and the shops that did not, and have deliberately chosen not to step in and clean up the sidewalks in front of them to blackmail us into accepting a BID.

It was the residents who stepped into the breach, joined the city’s Adopt-a-Can program and persuaded the Department of Sanitation to add more trash cans to the corners. Broadway’s streets have improved without ACE. There is no need to add part of Soho to the areas covered by these semi-governmental nonprofits. Snoopy [sic] — shame on you.
Lora Tenenbaum

Gives Hat another chance

To The Editor:
Re “Take a bite out of gentrification, eat at El Sombrero (Clayton, Feb. 28):

I went there a long time ago. It was O.K. but I’m Chicano, grew up in West Side San Antonio. Now that you mention it, I will stop there and eat.

My favorite was when the Mexican ladies would set up by the basketball courts between Forsyth and Chrystie Sts. Gorditas made with handmade tortillas for $1.
Tomas Melchor

NID is working with nabe

To The Editor:
Re “Is NID really needed, and who asked for it anyway?” (talking point, by Eileen Stukane, Feb. 21):

I sit on the Steering Committee of the Hudson River Park NID. I have no problem with the first half of Ms. Stukane’s talking point; it is factually correct, and I thank her for at least getting her facts straight. However, I do have a problem with some of her conclusions.

For example, her claim that the “public meetings do not seem to offer a plan in progress but rather, a plan in place” is simply unfair. The current draft of the district plan looks quite different from the original one 18 months ago when I joined the steering committee. During the past year and a half, the steering committee has paid careful attention to all comments and feedback that have been received prior to, during and after the public meetings.  We have analyzed them, debated them and incorporated many of the suggestions into each successive draft of the plan.

A case in point are the NID’s current proposed boundaries, which have not yet been finalized mainly because we are still hearing from the community regarding certain pros and cons of different layouts. In short, the district plan, even at this late hour, is still a work in progress. We do hope to finish it in the next couple of weeks since our goal is to submit a finalized version to the city by the end of March. Until then, we welcome any and all comments.

Regarding Ms. Stukane’s observation that “the NID Steering Committee…is comprised of 23 members. Of those, 10 are major real estate developers…,” she seems to imply that somehow they are running or controlling the meetings. Having attended every single meeting since I joined the steering committee nearly two years ago, I can assure you that nothing could be farther from the truth.  The real estate developers have always been cordial and professional — but somewhat reserved in their participation. Most of the debating has transpired among the 13 community members. Technically speaking, the community members now have a majority (13 to 10), but we’ve never had to use it because all decisions taken have been unanimous.

As for Ms. Stukane’s complaint that “three — only three — residential owners” sit on the committee, let me assure that it’s not from lack of trying. The steering committee reached out to dozens of residential owners, but for one reason or another, only three decided to join.  Had I known that Ms. Stukane loved the park so much, I would have reached out to her personally.

Finally, I disagree with Ms. Stukane’s allegation that the NID is mostly being planned with the input of prominent real estate developers, and that residents are then being informed after the fact. I personally dragged representatives from Friends of Hudson River Park to nearly a dozen well-attended neighborhood and community board events, as well as to one-on-one meetings with individual residents in Chelsea, Clinton and Hell’s Kitchen. The same has been the case with my colleagues on the steering committee who live in the Village and Tribeca.

In short, the NID is in fact really needed financially, and it’s the community that is asking for it.
Raul Larios

Central Park has no NID

To The Editor:
The Hudson River Park Trust is a business masquerading as a public park. The people who supported it thought it would be a public park masquerading as a business. I testified against its establishment because I had been a member of a New York State authority board, whose preoccupation was always gaining revenue.

Now the Trust has invented a 5-mile-long, three-block-wide, permanent tax base masquerading as a “neighborhood.” The justification is an allegation — that the value of property in the “neighborhood” has gone up far more than property slightly further east. Even if the property value has risen slightly more, owners will not only pay higher city property taxes because of the increase in value, they will also pay a NID (neighborhood improvement district) tax. Purchasers since 2005 will have no windfall gains.

The property owners surrounding Central Park pay higher property taxes, but no one has suggested establishing a NID for them, or for other public park abutters.

Free the Hudson River Park from the Trust!
David Z. Robinson

Brain injury: Think about it

To The Editor:
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. Since 1997, I’ve tackled the ongoing daily ups and downs of my own wholly life-altering traumatic brain injury, caused by Con Edison’s now so-called “stray voltage.”

I had been talking on a payphone at Morton and Hudson Sts., when 90 volts of electricity shot through my body; it turned out the utility had installed a high-voltage vault under the payphone.

Many of the symptoms of brain injury are often recognized only by its survivors or the most sensitive care providers. Improved awareness and care may begin by obtaining information from organizations like the Brain Injury Association of America and by encouraging more in-depth representation in the media.
Phil Vanaria

A.k.a. touché

To The Editor:
Re “Scene” (March 7):

Under the photo by Milo Hess is the caption, “A pigeon seemed to be contemplating the progress of One World Trade Center, a.k.a. The Freedom Tower.”

Because “The Freedom Tower” is used only by those who are not in the cognoscenti, why not include “a pigeon, a.k.a. a promiscuous hoochie”?
Warren Allen Smith
Smith is founder, Philosopedia

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2 Responses to Letters, Week of March 14, 2013

  1. Mr. Larios is welcome to debate NID process all he wants, but the real issue is that a NID is just a quasi-governmental agency with authority and little oversight, and will use taxation, instead of fences, to build a gated community on our waterfront. It’s wrong and totally opposite of what the bohemian Village is famous for. Not everything in this City needs to be world class, state of the art. Simple is beautiful – grass and paths. If he doesn’t run up big bills with fancy landscaping and design, then he won’t need to squeeze money out of local residents and create a neighborhood that only the very rich can afford.

  2. Raul Larios doesn’t even live in the NID district. I’m sure he enjoys the park as much as any New Yorker but given its arbitrary boundaries, he’s not even in the district! As shown in the thoughtful presentation at CB1 this past week, 14 out of 25 members of the Steering Committee are developers or paid consultants to developers. Of the remaining 11, only 3 LIVE in the district and will actually pay the tax as individuals. People like Mr. Larios are also members of CB4 and should recuse themselves from any votes on the issue given the inherent conflicts of interest.

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