Letters, Week of July 4, 2013

Kudos, but try some transparency

To The Editor:
Re “Park bill made little noise, could have huge impact” (news article, June 27):

Kudos to Assemblymember Deborah Glick and state Senator Brad Hoylman for once again warding off the misguided, often-revived push to amend the Hudson River Park Act to allow residential development in our waterfront park. Although some may dislike the permission for air-rights transfers, I am grateful to our two legislators in finding other funding sources for our park.

Absent (and lamented by Senator Hoylman) was transparency. Proposed legislation that can fundamentally affect our precious open waterfront has to be reviewed by the community, not hidden from public view until it is done. When the Hudson River Park Act was enacted in 1998 it was only after many public hearings and committee reports.

Assemblymember Richard Gottfried has already announced that “provisions relating particularly to Pier 40 and Pier 76” will be on the block next year. Let our legislators and our governor pledge now that proposed future amendments to the park act — especially concerning these piers — will be reviewed by the public, not decided behind closed doors.
Jonathan Geballe
Geballe is district Leader, 66th Assembly District, Part A

Trust inhospitable to unions

To The Editor:
Re “Park bill made little noise, could have huge impact” (news article, June 27):

A difficult and overdue result for Pier 40 just became even more contentious and impossible. Taking a single-pier solution into the realm of air rights and preservation all along the park has kicked this can so dangerously far down the road. This was a stealth maneuver — and it is an abject failure for the community.

The disastrously anti-union stipulations buried at the end, alone make it clear who authored this bill. For those who are wondering, a judge can now prohibit union activity, beyond our lifetimes, in any hotel or meeting or hospitality space throughout the Hudson River Park. This is a massive, park-wide, anti-union clause, pushed by our supposedly pro-union West Side representatives.

This is what we get when, following the advice of Tobi Bergman, we “rely on the people we elect to legislate, for better or for worse.” I’m sorry, but that is unacceptable, Tobi.

The amended section of the park act now reads: “Should this act permit the construction, operation and use of a hotel or meeting space within any portion of the park, the Trust or the contractor or subcontractor of such project shall enter into a valid agreement [that]…shall, at a minimum, protect the Trust’s proprietary interests by prohibiting the labor organization and its members from engaging in picketing, work stoppages, boycotts and any other economic interference with the operation of the facility or associated hospitality operations for the duration of the Trust’s proprietary interest.” I’m a union member, and I want to know who specifically inserted this clause!
Patrick Shields

Rising rents and transient tenants

To The Editor: 
Re “Landlords’ rising income doesn’t justify a rent hike” (talking point, by Brad Hoylman, June 27):

Thanks to state Senator Brad Hoylman for defending affordable housing. As a rent-stabilized tenant, I am about to sign on for a 7.75 percent increase on a two-year lease, and I can tell you that 7.75 percent in itself will be a financial hit for me. That the Rent Guidelines Board is considering upping the ante to 9.5 percent for two-year leases is unconscionable.

There are other problems that threaten our eroding base of affordable housing. Twelve years ago, my building had 16 rent-stabilized units out of 16 units; now it has four. Relatively stable market-rent tenants are complaining that the rising “market rents” they are being asked to pay at renewal are too high. These rents are not justified in a four-story, walk-up tenement that is, on the whole, rather poorly maintained, and the tenants cannot afford the increases.

Now we have discovered that some of the units are being rented out as hotel rooms, at prices that are triple, quadruple, quintuple and beyond “market,” as well as, legal stabilized rents.

After petitioning in the area around Petrosino Square for the upcoming September primary, and being bowled over by how many people identify themselves not only as not registered Democrats but as temporary residents and noncitizens, I went online and discovered on Airbnb — one of the main clearinghouses for apartment hotel rentals — no less than 156 units advertised in the nine square blocks bounded by Cleveland Place and Elizabeth St. and Broome and Prince Sts.

My building has been plagued by burglary, blasting sound systems, hallways reeking of marijuana, trash being dumped inside and in front of the building, and the list goes on. As I wrote to my landlord recently, our affordable housing residence is being turned into a pricey flophouse for transients.

Who will step in to arrest this destruction of our homes and, as importantly, our sense of community, which depends on residential continuity?
Georgette Fleischer
Fleischer is founder, Friends of Petrosino Square

Has ‘cultivated’ untold artists

To The Editor:
Re “Garden revokes his membership again, throws away the key” (news article, June 13):

Jeff Wright is a generous-spirited person with a big heart. A poet himself, he has taken it upon himself to support countless artists and writers who are unsung in a city whose institutions champion mostly blue-chip, international art. For years he has published magazines and written reviews about artists’ shows that would likely have not gotten coverage otherwise. Jeff is loved and revered by hundreds of Downtown folks.

Many of us treasure the small, quiet barbecues he hosts at Dias y Flores a few times a year. (Jeff and crew meticulously clean up after these events. I once walked back to the garden a couple hours after a party had ended and saw no trace of any paper, plastic or food.)

Jeff Wright is the face of integrity in community gardens in New York. Though some board members routinely break the garden rules, he has not broken a single one at Dias y Flores. It is an egregious breach of his position that GreenThumb Deputy Director Roland Chouloute is siding with the elitist board. Wright has tried for 15 years to make Dias y Flores a model garden. He has spread the word and welcomed people of all stripes to join.

However Chouloute has now colluded with the board to thwart open membership. Without democracy the gardens are not truly public spaces. Inspired by Jeff’s enthusiasm to make this the “greatest garden in the city,”  I plan to join Dias y Flores and will vote against the exclusionary policies of the possibly corrupt board.
Gae Savannah

 

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3 Responses to Letters, Week of July 4, 2013

  1. I need to make clear that my posting of the letter above indicates only my strong disagreement with the particular sentiment offered by Tobi Bergman in regard to reliance on the judgement of public officials in this matter. The context makes it seem more like a general personal attack. Far from the case. My respect for Tobi and his efforts endures, my disappointment was regarding this statement alone, in which I felt he lets the legislators off the hook for their actions. Disappointed because I believe they put his efforts at risk with further, and even more complicated, delays.

  2. Patrick Shields

    Tobi at least came up with a plan and went to bat for it. The wrong plan, to be sure, but he put his name on it.
    Made a decision. Didn't sit around anonymously wagging his finger.

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