Letters, Week June 6, 2013

Tammany Hall to be landmarked?

To The Editor:
After almost three decades of citizen lobbying for the landmark designation of the former Tammany Hall on Union Square, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously on May 14 to calendar a public hearing to consider granting protection for the building, at 100-102 E. 17th St., a.k.a. 44 Union Square East.

The date for the hearing has yet to be announced.

This is the first step in the designation process, which, if successful, will ultimately be up to the City Council to affirm or deny.

City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, in whose district the building is located, has been a strong supporter of its designation — as were her predecessors, former Councilmember Margarita Lopez and Carol Greitzer.

Support the landmarking has come from many sources over many years, including the three leading preservation organizations in the city — the Historic Districts Council, the Municipal Art Society and the New York Landmarks Conservancy — as well as Community Board 5.

Elected officials, in addition to Councilmember Mendez, include Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, state Senator Liz Krueger and former state Senator Tom Duane, and Assemblymembers Richard Gottfried, Brian Kavanagh and Deborah Glick.

The Union Square Community Coalition and the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates are the two leading local groups that have consistently urged protection for the structure.
Jack Taylor

Reporter rebuts on radon

To The Editor:
I am responding to Michael Bernstein’s letter “Radon reaction is ‘just ignorant’ ” (May 30), which was a response to my article “Spectra pipeline radon fear starting to catch fire” (May 23):

The Environmental Protection Agency’s safe level for radon in homes is 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/l), and no one should be living in a home that has a higher level. To know the radon levels in their homes, homeowners can purchase radon monitors. Many homeowners do this since they do not want to inhale cancer-causing levels of this colorless, odorless, tasteless gas. If levels are high in homes, there are fan systems for radon removal that can be purchased to vent the radon-filled air outdoors where it dissipates.

I do not understand why Mr. Bernstein is O.K. with homeowners breathing in possibly high levels of radon for years. The longer one inhales radon that is in the air, the greater the risk of lung cancer. According to the E.P.A., radon currently causes 21,000 deaths from lung cancer a year. Yes, it does take years for lung cancer to be diagnosed from radon inhalation, but many people live in the same home for decades.

It is true that radon is naturally occurring in all natural gas. But the gas hydrofracked from the Marcellus Shale has a higher radon content and shorter transport time (hours as opposed to four to six days for half-life decay) than the gas from sources in the Gulf Coast — the usual source of gas for New Yorkers. It seems wise to legislate a radon monitoring system at the city gates rather than wait until levels above 4 pCi/l may be detected in the air of New York City kitchens.
Eileen Stukane

We tried to say something

To The Editor:
“See something, say something.” Really. Who wants to know? Three of us gathered on the corner of Eighth and Mercer Sts. one morning last week as someone apparently comatose was on the ground. Who do we call? We decided not 911. Who needed fire engines to show up?  311? We’d never get through. I offered to dial the Sixth Precinct, a number I keep on my phone for bicycling problems.

I dialed and redialed the Sixth Precinct and listened to instructions to call 911, 311 or try the detective line, the latter which I did. No one answered. By this time we roused the person, who stumbled off. We felt he was a danger to himself.

If we are the community’s eyes and ears, especially on Eighth St. these days, why shouldn’t our local precinct be available?
Renee Feinberg

Cyclists should have helmets

To The Editor:
Re “Citi Bikes not ‘Fast and Furious,’ but slow, stable” (news article, May 16):

The bike-share spokesperson describes “the four cardinal rules of biking in New York City.” But the use of helmets should be “rule” No. 1, and not a mention of it — particularly for so-called “casual” users. Who’s going to pay for all those lawsuits?
Robert Feingold

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