Letters, Week of April 4, 2013

Can’t lose our go-to market

To The Editor:
Re “Another supermarket will be checking out; Walgreens coming in” (news article, March 28):

Right now, we are all reeling from the sudden news that our core neighborhood supermarket, Food Emporium, will close within the month. This is a terrible blow, since it will effectively eliminate the “go-to” market for those thousands living between Fifth and Seventh Aves. and 10th St. to 16th St. A significant part of the supermarket’s customers are the elderly, who aren’t able to travel far for their groceries. This doesn’t even address the loss of jobs for the very efficient, loyal employees, many of whom have been at this location for years.

The market has kept abreast of the times, with offerings from the most basic to specialty foods now in demand by today’s customer base.

Please tell us that it “ain’t over till it’s over.” We desperately hope something can be done, before another beauty salon, nail shop, bank or drugstore takes its place. This neighborhood is already overrun with these businesses.
Vicki Margolis

Morton Williams to the rescue

To The Editor:
Re “Another supermarket will be checking out; Walgreens coming in” (news article, March 28):

If anyone has an idea for a replacement location, please let me know. We’d consider opening a Morton Williams supermarket there. You can send me a note on our Web site: www.mortonwilliams.com .
Avi Kaner
Kaner is vice president and co-owner, Morton Williams Associated Supermarkets

Most park users are residents

To The Editor:
Re “NID critics poke holes in ‘unfair’ tax plan for park” (news article, March 28):

As a resident who uses the Hudson River Park frequently — and whose property values are higher as a result of this wonderful amenity — I have little doubt that the majority of the park’s visitors are residents. Go there on any morning before work, or in the middle of the day, and you will see parents and caregivers with their children.

Maintaining this amenity is critical and I see it as an investment in my front yard and in my property. I also like the fact that the median will be maintained. What an eyesore! It’s an embarrassment for our community and frankly our city.

Aren’t business improvement districts the mechanism that has supported Union Square Park and medians elsewhere? I believe the Broadway medians are maintained by a BID.

What they are suggesting doesn’t quite seem unprecedented to me. It just seems logical that neighbors would work and support such an incredible asset to their community.

Griping and complaining will not solve the problem. All these people are complaining about paying a nominal fee — and not suggesting any solution to the real problem.
Sandy Yeltser

Kavanagh on NYCHA infill plan

To The Editor:
I was disappointed and taken aback to read, in “Pols, public demand to be filled in on NYCHA infill plan” (news article, March 21), the highly misleading characterization of my position on the plan the New York City Housing Authority has been floating to build market-rate housing on 13 sites throughout Manhattan, including two in my district and others on the Lower East Side.

The conversation I had with your reporter in his research for the article was, simply put, not accurately reported. During this conversation and during a public hearing days earlier, which your reporter attended, where I questioned NYCHA Chairperson John Rhea and other NYCHA officials at length on the record, I stressed some of the many concerns I have about the infill plan.

My concerns include: (1) the crucial question of whether the specific sites proposed in NYCHA’s plan and discussed in the article are appropriate for the proposed development; (2) the potential negative impacts on local residents, including loss of existing recreational amenities and open space, and how they’d be addressed; (3) how we can be sure that NYCHA and any developers selected for these sites would follow through on promised improvements in security, utilities and basic maintenance; (4) whether the new buildings would include the appropriate level of affordability, and particularly how NYCHA would ensure that new apartments would be affordable to NYCHA residents, as promised; (5) why NYCHA officials hid crucial details about the proposal for so long, and when they will reveal important details, such as limits on the height of new buildings, setbacks from other buildings, etc.; and (6) why NYCHA’s efforts to reach out to public housing residents, community boards, elected officials and other community leaders and local residents have been so inadequate to date.

Notwithstanding these concerns, I acknowledged to your reporter — and have said in public — that it is important for NYCHA to identify additional sources of revenue to cover critical maintenance and capital repair needs. I explained that it may be “a good idea” for NYCHA to look at its property across the city to determine whether any of it might be used to generate additional revenue in a way that would be acceptable to local residents and to those of us responsible for overseeing and supporting public housing. However, I have also worked relentlessly over the past few months with a broad coalition of elected officials, community leaders and resident advocates, to make it clear to NYCHA, City Hall and our communities that we will oppose the proposed infill buildings unless and until our many concerns can be addressed in a process that includes proper community consultation. I have said this at every turn, including to another reporter for a previous news article you published (“City plans to lease NYCHA sites for luxury development,” Feb. 7).

Of course, reporters sometimes mishear or misunderstand a source, but given the fact that your reporter had heard many of my concerns directly from me during the very conversation he cites, it is simply ridiculous to take the words “a good idea” grossly out of context and to print what would be quite a scoop: that “Kavanagh told The Villager that, in fact, he doesn’t oppose the infill plan and actually thinks it’s ‘a good idea’ for NYCHA to use its own property this way.”

I strongly request a prompt correction or retraction.
Brian Kavanagh
Kavanagh is state assemblymember, 74th District

Editor’s note: The Villager stands behind both its reporting and the article 100 percent. Toward the end of a phone interview, Kavanagh was asked by the reporter if he would oppose the NYCHA infill plan. On the contrary, Kavanagh — surprisingly, to the reporter — replied that, in fact, he thought the infill concept was “a good idea,” and then went on to qualify this, saying what must be done to make the infill approach acceptable to the community and to him. The article expresses all of this accurately. Kavanagh called us after the article was published, to take exception to his being quoted saying the infill plan was “a good idea.” He told us that — in his view — the article gave the impression that he supported NYCHA’s infill plan in its entirety, down to its very last detail, the exact same number of new apartments cited in the plan for each development, and so forth. However, the article does not assert this, and it was the reporter’s understanding that what Kavanagh meant was that he generally supports the idea of NYCHA using its property in a way like this to raise revenue — although that, obviously, as Kavanagh did say, the plan needs to address the community’s concerns before it goes forward. What Kavanagh stated previously at a public hearing or what he told another reporter for a previous article is one thing. However, people are not robots (fortunately) and they say different things at different times. Not saying something at a public hearing is not proof that a person didn’t say it in a private phone conversation later on. In short, the reporter did not mishear anything — rather, it appears that the assemblymember misremembers what he actually said. The Villager will not print a correction or retraction. Again, The Villager completely stands behind its reporting and stands behind the article.

Traveling was only option

To The Editor:
Re “A crusty proposal: Crack down on ‘voluntary homeless’ ” (talking point, by Chad Marlow, March 28):

I have a few problems with this column. First, if you’re going to do research on a group of people, then it’s best not to base your assumptions on a sensationalistic blog — especially if you’re attempting to craft legislation regarding those very folks. A blog is a collection of interviews collected, sorted and filtered by one person whose views don’t really reflect the reality of being a traveler. Have you ever spoken to a traveling kid? Can you spot the often not-so-subtle subcultural distinctions between each group? I’m going to assume you haven’t, and therefore you are not in a position to start cultural and especially legal actions.

I’ve traveled on and off for the last six to seven years, and I would never ever say it was a choice. Many of us (especially us older travelers) started because there were no other viable options. With no jobs available, no parents’ house to be in, many of us began living this way in order just to keep going. Along the way, a lot of us develop skills and figure things out. A lot of the people I first met when I started traveling are now going to trade school, college or have a profession. Now, I’ve also met many people who’ve fallen by the wayside, and are stuck in that way of life.

Condemning us because it appears to be a choice reflects a grave misunderstanding of where we come from.

If it weren’t for traveling, I’d be dead. It provided a means for me to support myself, by dumpster diving, riding trains and playing various instruments for money. And now, I’m a professional musician living a wonderful, stable life in New Orleans. Your laws would certainly not have made it easier for me to approach where I am now.

Also, you mentioned that violence from “crusties” is on the rise. I will agree with you on that. But so is the legal and cultural suppression of travelers. Might there be a connection? Quite possibly. When you alienate people and treat them with impunity and disrespect, then they’re going to respond in kind. And that violence bleeds on to everybody, including other travelers. Providing positive options is a much more humane and reasonable response.

My point overall is that being a “crusty” (which is a word that I hate because I and other folks I know stay as clean as possible on the road) does not mean that you have picked that lifestyle voluntarily. Drawing a distinction based on residency really doesn’t work — especially because many homeless people lack ID — it only fosters hatred and classism toward the poor.
Lyle Werner

‘Like Jim Crow for the E.V.’

To The Editor:
Re “A crusty proposal: Crack down on ‘voluntary homeless’” (talking point, by Chad Marlow, March 28):

Why not just enforce the laws on the books against violence like assault? Why craft a “designer” law targeting a specific group of people that you’ve previously identified by their dress, their habits and their origins? Sounds like Jim Crow for the East Village.
Rob Hollander

Don’t mess with Texas!

To The Editor:
Re “A crusty proposal: Crack down on ‘voluntary homeless’ ” (talking point, by Chad Marlow, March 28):

Trash Can speaks the truth. You’re darned right that Texas wouldn’t tolerate this! I love New York City and I chose to live here when I moved from Dallas in 1985, but there are just some things decent people shouldn’t have to put up with. Quality of life can make or break a community and it’s what separates the civilized from the savages.
Marilyn Stults

Trash Can: It’s a little much

To The Editor:
Re “A crusty proposal: Crack down on ‘voluntary homeless’” (talking point, by Chad Marlow, March 28):

So hey, I’m David, the one in the picture. The full story, what I told the man, Steven Hirsch, was that what happened was these other traveling kids I met, they got caught shooting heroin in the park and the cops just ran them out of the park.

Just because I choose to travel doesn’t mean I’m a bad person or taking from anyone else that’s out there trying to make a buck. But I’m definitely one of the few who are respectable. I only panhandled when I had too.

But to put a law on only the travelers that are out there seems a little much.
David, a.k.a. Trash Can

Bikes rock, but not bike locks

To The Editor:
Re “Theft and the City — bike bummer” (photo, March 21) and “Bikes rule! Or bike rules? One cyclist sounds off” (talking point, by Scott Oglesby, March 21):

Many years ago, I bought a Kryptonite U-lock. I was told Kryptonite would pay the value of my new bike, if stolen anywhere in the U.S. should I use this lock. Anywhere, that is, but New York City. Apparently, New York City thieves are among the best. While it was a bummer, it also made me feel oddly proud of my city.

Excellent piece by Scott Oglesby! As a longtime bike rider, I especially appreciate Scott’s riff differentiating riding through red lights like a jaywalker versus barreling through them like a speeding car, and his point that going against traffic on a one-way street for a block minimizes chances of being doored. My hope is that, as bike riding becomes more prevalent, people exiting cars, etc. will, so to speak, actually look before they leap.
Joseph Hanania

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