Letters, Week of May 29, 2013

Clarifications on new conservancy

To The Editor:
We are Village residents who have joined together to support the Parks Department in its maintenance of Washington Square Park. We’ve heard rumors circulating, so we’d like to clarify a few things.

Over the past months we met with Parks, community leaders and neighbors to discuss this idea, all of whom encouraged us to proceed.

Our group is called the Washington Square Park Conservancy, which may surprise some people. Frankly, it surprised us, too, but other appropriate names were taken. And “conservancy” is just a word that “friends” groups adopt to indicate they raise funds to support parks. We envision an organization with broad representation, reflecting longstanding Village ties and  passion for the park.

We have no formal agreement with the city. Jurisdiction over all activities in Washington Square Park — including setting policies, permitting events and managing staff — will remain with Parks.

Our mission is simple: Keep Washington Square Park clean, safe and beautiful. Our goal is to provide volunteer support and funds for maintenance and plantings. City budgets wax and wane. A committed group of neighbors can help smooth out these cycles.

We have already provided funding for a summer playground associate to organize children’s activities. We’d like to raise funds for late-evening maintenance staff. Beyond that, we want to be responsive to our community’s priorities.

We look forward to working together to help keep Washington Square Park enjoyable for all.

Elizabeth Ely, Veronica Bulgari, Gwen Evans, Justine Leguizamo
Founding board members, Washington Square Park Conservancy

Silver should step down

To The Editor:
I strongly believe that Sheldon Silver should resign as Assembly speaker. Any reasonable view of the affair demonstrates a coverup. His staff was engaged in a coverup, the limited scope of the Ethics Committee’s review (the fact that they could not explore the speaker’s staff) smells like a coverup, and the efforts to censor the report and remove the negative references to Silver smells like a coverup.

I am the father of three daughters. I expect our elected officials to steadfastly protect young women who work in their ranks, and to generally protect women who are harassed.

I am disappointed that Assemblymember Deborah Glick — who has so much to say about residential projects in or near Hudson River Park — isn’t leading the righteous charge to have Silver step down.
Arthur Schwartz
Schwartz is Democratic State Committeeman, 66th Assembly District

Dorm protest is just hot air

To The Editor:
Re “Dormitory foes warn Cooper: Don’t get in bed with Singer!” (news article, May 16):

If the elected officials really wanted to help the community they would be rewriting the law so that a dorm is not a “community use,” because really — it’s not! Just by definition a dorm is for people who come from some other community.

Marching and speeches are fine, but they will not prevent this from happening again and again in the Village. In fact, elected folks love it when we protest, because they think this gets it our of our system, and then they can say we were heard (just not responded to).

Laws must be amended. Anything less from the elected leaders is just posing for votes. After they win re-election, they will care little if the neighborhood gets screwed.
Ralph Lewis

The ‘Rapture’ is still there

To The Editor:
Re “Forget the couture, ‘Just Chaos’ puts focus on punks” (news article, May 23):

Debbie looks terrific! I have some great photos of her back in the day from when I shot for Rolling Stone and she is just as naturally sexy now as she was then. Excuse me. I am going to do some sit-ups now.
Lawrence White

Radon reaction is ‘just ignorant’

To The Editor:
Re “Spectra pipeline radon fear starting to catch fire” (news article, May 23):

Basements in parts of the country have continuous and serious levels of naturally occurring radon isotope Rn222 that is an alpha emitter, has a half-life of 3.8 days and has been linked to an increase in lung cancer rates. These homeowners live day in and day out for dozens of years in a condition where the radon is constantly entering their home and, most importantly, they breathe it into their lungs, which is the only way it can harm you before a statistical significance of lung cancer can be attributed to the radioactive gas. Comparing that condition to the trace amounts that will be part of the natural gas delivered in a steel pipe that blocks alpha particles, as does air and skin, never to be inhaled in you home, is just ignorant. Unfortunately, the well-meaning devotees of so-called environmental protection reach for their torches once again.
Michael Bernstein

Gloria had grace

To The Editor:
Re “Gloria Harris, 51, community assistant at Village’s Board 2” (obituary, May 23):

The residents of Washington Square Village express their sympathies to Gloria’s family and the Community Board 2 family. She was dedicated, devoted and always helpful, and handled a very hard job with grace.

We will miss her and her smile
Judith Chazen Walsh

Condos, bike-share… No!

To The Editor:
Re “D.O.T. backpedals, removes Renwick rack in Hudson Sq.” (news article, May 23):

This morning, the Citi Bike racks that were removed from Renwick St. were re-sited in Soho Square, on Spring St. and Sixth Ave. This was despite the statement by Margaret Forgione, Department of Transportation Manhattan borough commissioner, that they “would not be re-sited anywhere in the area.”

In my New York, the sidewalk is for 8-year-olds on trikes, and not the heavy bicycle traffic that is being shoved down our throats by the Bloomberg administration. Who gave them the right to this wanton takeover of our streets? This disaster will not reduce vehicular traffic, and will in fact increase it. And it will hurt the income of the M.T.A., and poor taxicab drivers. (I’ve still got my hack license!) Furthermore, the healthy inclination to walk will be greatly inhibited.

The Avenue of the Americas is used as a highway by every doofus imaginable, and woe unto anyone a little too old, or a little too slow of foot to jump out of the path of danger.

The handicapped, those who are escorting a toddler, or an elderly parent can now enjoy the whoosh of inept city planning as it brushes brutally by.

And oh, what fun the drunks will have when they get out of the bars and the clubs!

“City share”? What else is left of my city to share? The sky is being removed by the Hudson Square rezoning, and God’s Love We Deliver’s broken covenant, which will allow an enormous condo for those who can afford $3 million apartments.

And now we can “share” our city sidewalk with thousands of bicycles! As I look out of my window and watch the bank that gave the world the credit default swap taking over Soho Square, I sadly realize that it will no longer be possible to enjoy our greatest pleasure as New Yorkers — the ability to take a nice walk.

Indeed, if the personal space required to walk on the sidewalk or see the sky is no longer respected, the very civil fabric of our city will be gone. We will be reduced to digital cavemen — Darwinian class competitors, hunkered down in pricey little glass boxes with digital clubs and flat-screens, chanting, “More condos! More condos!”

Fare thee well, bel mondo! Can I offer you a Trump condo?

When I came here, what is now “Soho” might rightfully have been called, “So What”? Soon we will have to call it, “Oh No!”
Harry Pincus

So we get rejected rack?

To The Editor:
Re “D.O.T. backpedals, removes Renwick rack in Hudson Sq.” (news article, May 23):

We already have a set of racks on MacDougal and Prince Sts., just a block north from these additional racks. We need our extremely limited park space for neighborhood R&R, not just for tourism.

These racks from Renwick St. should not have been re-sited in Soho Square, anyway, based on the promise made by Commissioner Forgione, since it is only one block away from Hudson Square. Please place these bike racks in another location that does not inundate the tiny streets of this part of the city with drunken, two-wheeled weekend tourists and other non-local bike riders.
Susan Freel

Much griping, little listening

To The Editor:
Re “Bike-share sites could have been a win-win, but alas” (talking point, by David Gruber and Corey Johnson, May 23):

There will almost certainly be valid concerns that are raised by any new program of large size introduced in New York City.

That said, most of the concerns I’m hearing voiced about this program involve airing out petty gripes and engaging in wild speculation, and a critical component of this exchange is missing: listening

The Department of Transportation’s efforts at P.R., across the board, are as puzzling as they are incompetent and incomplete. But that is a problem that does not extend to the staff of the NYC Bike Share corporation — the entity running the program, separate from D.O.T. and Alta Bicycle and not a ward of Citi, the banking corporation — and does not apply to their deployment of the program. They’ve gotten a lot of work done on 300-plus sites in less than two months, and no essential city service or significant activity has been disrupted in the process.

D.O.T. has been — slowly — receptive to concerns where people have been inconvenienced, and made adjustments when the concerns were reasonable. D.O.T. has done appropriate community outreach, and can’t be expected to pursue the direct permission of every person who lives or works in New York City for every change it plans to make. The worst of the changes from this program have extremely mild effects on the neighborhoods in which they were placed, and it’s worth adjusting to those changes in order to gain the benefits of the program.

This is the story that has been repeated constantly, but the opponents are not interested in listening. They just want their personal demands met in full, after they’ve had a turn at airing their grievances at whatever length suits them. We have yet to hear the reasonable concerns about bike-share. This makes sense, because so far only the racks have been deployed, innocuously, in public space that belongs to the city. NYC Bike Share has not overstepped its bounds at all.

Anything it does to modify rack placement in the upcoming weeks to sort out territorial disputes (which are mostly misguided and sometimes dishonest) will be for the sake of addressing politics. Which is good. It means D.O.T. and NYC Bike Share are listening. But are the people listening back? Or are they just thinking about more ways to argue for their anti-bike-share worldview to receptive ears in the media?
Brian Van Nieuwenhoven

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3 Responses to Letters, Week of May 29, 2013

  1. Jessica Berk


  2. David Chester

    As a long time SoHo resident, I want to assure Commissioner Forgione that we do NOT need a bike share rack and the extra bicycle traffic it will bring. Even now, I have to look both ways twice before I cross the street. Once for cars and trucks and the second time, lest I become an involuntary crash dummy for the ever present bicyclist racing helter skelter, with or against traffic, without regard for lights, stop signs and, of course, pedestrians like me. I'm not sure they even know how to stop except when they encounter an immovable object, such as myself. I anticipate this perilous situation to be exacerbated exponentially with the "improvement" of bike racks that no resident of this city wants or needs. And I also fully expect to become collateral damage.

  3. In response to the Arthur Schwartz letter, I agree and would like to argue more fully that, while it became clear long ago to many of us that Silver should step down or be forced to step down,
    (see my post of September 12, 2012): http://nycmls.com/2012/09/06/inertia-and-cowardic
    the real issue is our inability as Village voters, outside of Silver's district, to directly affect his role as Speaker. The only way to do that is to affect, at the polls, the tenure of our own Assemblymember.

    This community needs to begin having an honest conversation about the weaknesses and all too late responses to crises, of Deborah Glick. While a reliable progressive legislator, she has an abysmal failure rate on ideas, guidance, or solutions for the big ticket items of most importance to this community, NYU, Trinity, Pier 40, and of course, the unbelievable and unforgivable loss of Saint Vincent's, the single greatest source of safe harbor for Greenwich Village. Where was she the night of Hurricane Sandy, or the next day?

    Her prime sponsored legislation, according to her Assembly site, is nearly thirty percent animal rights legislation, not the prime concern of this community. Is the sale or movement of feral pigs
    ( http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A03767 )
    of enough concern to Villagers on a daily basis that it overshadows seeking capital funding for Pier 40? Is it more relevant than creating an entity which would cause the sharing of Parks/Conservancy-raised dollars with the city parks as a whole, as Daniel Squadron has proposed?

    She has an admirable progressive record on the many issues easily identifiable as of obvious importance the the district. But there must be an equally progressive, and more suitably courageous individual in this district who is more (or actually) up to the task of confronting leadership, and the threats ahead. Saving Pier 40, and of course, having the basic moral courage to stand up to an Assembly Speaker who has used taxpayer dollars to coverup a lengthy and intolerable sexual abuse scandal.

    Our AssemblyWOMAN has shown an utter lack of courage when it comes to confronting the second most despicable weapon (only slightly behind rape) in the arsenal of the war against equality for women: sexual fondling, pressure, and harassment by politicians with vast power and influence. Both Lopez, and Silver.

    Why does this community continue to tolerate lack of action on the part of Deborah Glick? Is it exhaustion? Is everyone too busy? Are we afraid she can not be adequately replaced? (Every politician can be, sometimes an improvement). Are we worried about losing money from, or influence in, Albany? After her twenty-two years in office you would think that this district would have power and importance enough to get the big ticket items handled. As I have long said, the power to say "no" falls well short of using that power to create solutions. To get Pier 40 done. To stand up to Sheldon Silver prepared to fight the expected district retribution. Solution free "no" to housing on the pier coupled with silence on sexual coverup at our expense has exposed a weak and fearful legislator. This can no longer be denied.

    And what of us? I simply do not understand this lack of demand for moral conviction and action from Greenwich Villagers and other residents of her district. It is a community failure, as well as hers.

    Our Assemblymember has failed us, and the only way we can get to Sheldon Silver, is to get to our own Assemlymember, who empowers Silver, at the polls here at home. It is time for an alternative to Deborah Glick.

    If this community continues to give her a free pass, both Pier 40, and the hard earned potential for an economic and equal future for women in New York City and State, will continue to wither, and deteriorate.

    Patrick Shields
    Greenwich Village

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