Letters, Week of May 2, 2013

Pristine grass…and Segways

To The Editor:
Re “Conservancy will keep Washington Sq. looking good” (talking point, by William Castro, April 25):

I recently had the experience of working in Los Angeles in a sparkly new building adjacent to a corporate park. In the park, every blade of grass was a brilliant green. There was a pond and various structures for “play.” A security guard patrolled the park on a Segway. But no one played in the park except for a local soccer team that was practicing.

It seemed uncomfortable there because how you were supposed to interact with the park was very scripted. Parks in New York are such paradise because the city has very little nature otherwise. They are for everyone to enjoy. Please don’t turn them into corporate parks that welcome some people and forbid others. Even privileged professionals don’t enjoy feeling constricted by an undue number of park rules.
Julian Meale

Is this all just a coincidence?

To The Editor:
Re “Conservancy will keep Washington Sq. looking good” (talking point, by William Castro, April 25):

“Looking good” is a matter of personal taste. Apparently, Borough Commissioner Castro and the park conservancy thugs who are remaking Washington Square Park in their own sterile corporate image, think that musicians, performers and artists are an eyesore that must be eliminated. Is it coincidence that the conservancy is announced at the same time a secret amendment to the park rules is passed that removes virtually all performers from the park? Does eliminating free expression count as the “fruit” of the conservancy’s efforts?

Doesn’t having a conservancy director that is also a high-ranking Parks Department official count as a conflict of interest, or is that just a feature of the wonderful public-private partnership in crime that Commissioner Castro and the new conservancy director Sarah Neilson are just very small cogs in?
Robert Lederman
Lederman is president, ARTIST (Artists’ Response to Illegal State Tactics)

Whoa! Bad ’60s flashback

To The Editor:
Re “Artist fights on as Parks set to put new limits on buskers” (news article, April 25):

Well, this is cheerful. I remember in the late ’60s a friend of mine was busted for “playing a musical instrument in a public place.” She was wearing an ankle bracelet.

What goes around sometimes, unfortunately, comes back around.
Joanie Fritz Zosike

Schwartz was radical — on park

To The Editor:
Re J’accuse! McCarthyism, Village politics and Pier 40 (talking point, by Arthur Schwartz, April 25):

It was confounding to me that Arthur Schwartz would paint himself the victim of “McCarthyism” in the debate over the future of Pier 40. I know the term well because my father was a named individual in a suit fighting McCarthyist “have you ever been” affirmations required of professors, a suit that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. It was one of my father’s proudest moments, but not one that was without fear of right-wing demagoguery.

The dispute over Pier 40 is something altogether different. It boils down to this: Should protective legislation that prohibits residential development in Hudson River Park be changed? In the 1990s I was a member of Community Board 2 and a vocal supporter of the determined and unwavering position of the Federation to Save the Waterfront and Great Port, and politicians like Assemblymember Deborah Glick, to prohibit any residential use in the park. It was a hard-fought battle but that protection became a pillar of the Hudson River Park Act.

Arthur Schwartz should own his support for a radical legislative amendment that would erase that protection, a change that would have moved the luxury tower plan for Pier 40 to reality, and who knows what park-eating residential development that would follow. He should own his belittling of those of us who fought the luxury tower plan, and not run and hide from his words as he is doing now. The Villager’s Scoopy’s Notebook, on Feb., 7, reported, “As for the waterfront, Schwartz said, frankly, he doesn’t believe there’s that much opposition out there to the residential plan — save for the same few activists from decades ago who turn up at meetings on the issue, like Ben Green and Marcy Benstock.”

The prohibition against residential is the bulwark that has shielded the Hudson River Park from the march of luxury residential waterfront towers. It must remain.

Arthur Schwartz’s effort to remove this restriction has been soundly rejected by all of our local elected officials, and abandoned by the one local assemblymember who favored it. Arthur, if you have reversed your position and joined the ones you belittled, then admit it and move on. But don’t point fingers at those of us who stand firm behind our vision of the park as the right place for playgrounds, youth leagues and sorely needed green space — but the wrong place for residential towers.
Jonathan Geballe
Geballe is Democratic district leader, 66th Assembly District, Part A

Let’s stick to real issues

To The Editor:
Re J’accuse! McCarthyism, Village politics and Pier 40 (talking point, by Arthur Schwartz, April 25):

Arthur Schwartz’s comparison of our alleged misrepresentation of his position on residential development on Pier 40 to McCarthyism and blacklisting — which destroyed the reputations and livelihoods of hundreds of Americans — is typical Schwartzian hyperbole. It is unfortunate because it diverts attention from real issues, like open space and neighborhood preservation, which voters in this year’s Democratic district leader race deserve to know about. Particularly in this important citywide election year, candidates should be focusing on issues and their ability to work with others to get things done, not on manufactured insults and personal attacks.
Tony Hoffmann
Maria Passannante Derr

No sense of proportion

To The Editor:
Re J’accuse! McCarthyism, Village politics and Pier 40 (talking point, by Arthur Schwartz, April 25):

Arthur Schwartz is obviously a dedicated activist but he has no sense of proportion with his declaration that he is a “victim of McCarthyism” because he didn’t receive the Village Independent Democrats’ endorsement for district leader — whatever that is, and who really cares?

Unless Mr. Schwartz is imprisoned for invoking the Fifth Amendment, is blacklisted and loses his income because he is unlawfully stripped of his license to practice law (or teach, as my father was), and driven to despair and possible suicide as many were, his comparison to the 100,000 true victims of political persecution in the 1950s is nothing but the insipid whining of a deluded egomaniac.
Carl Rosenstein

Who’s picking bike sites?

To The Editor:
Re “Fagan Park site was better” (letter, by Merle Kaufman, April 18) and “Citi Bike set to roll in May; Some say No to Petrosino Site” (news article, April 11):

As the chairperson of the Hudson Square Connection business improvement district’s traffic task force, I want to comment on Merle Kaufman’s letter, where it was mentioned that the original proposed bike-share station site along Sixth Ave. would have made more sense than MacDougal St. She insinuated that the the original site had been moved to MacDougal St.

Nearby, there will also be a bike station for 35 bikes located on a sidewalk — albeit an extra-wide sidewalk — on Houston St. just west of Hudson St. In addition, there will also be a bike station on Renwick St. just south of Spring St. for 39 bikes. Keep in mind that Renwick St. is even narrower than MacDougal and that Spring St. has become the main boulevard of the Hudson Square community.

Unfortunately, the process of “picking and choosing” locations has been left to the city in the form of the Department of Transportation, with very little real input from the community and the organizations that serve it.

Sometimes this could be a good thing in order to expedite the process, and sometimes you have other things like Hurricane Sandy and software glitches that say “not so fast buddy.” Let’s see what happens “sometime in May.”
Phil Mouquinho

What genius put this here?

To The Editor:
Re “Invasion of the bike-share docks” (front-page photo, April 25):

While I can get onboard with clean transportation alternatives, I wholly object to the destruction of residential life in service to tourists. The station on Renwick St. in Hudson Square blocks access to three local businesses and two residential buildings! Does Mr. Bloomberg feel that Manhattan is so much a “luxury product” that no one should actually live here? He has used his stolen third term to plunder city life. And the only good thing one can say about Janette Sadik-Kahn is that her term in office will soon be over, too.
Rosemary Kuropat

There goes Tompkins Square

To The Editor:
Re “Scaled-down dorm pitched for embattled CHARAS site” (news article, April 25):

Great — and our community’s beautiful park will be their playground — the way Union Square Park is for the dorm on 14th St. near there.
Thanks, Gregg.
Eve Cusson

Unleash the hungry hellcats!

To The Editor:
Re “Scaled-down dorm pitched for embattled CHARAS site” (news article, April 25):

The selling-of-diplomas racket is big business.

We were promised that the building was designated for community use.

The community must come together again and fight like hungry hellcats to turn this building back into a broad community services station.
David Leslie
Leslie is a member, East Village Community Coalition

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