Letters, Week of July 11, 2013

There’s no need for NID now

To The Editor:
Re “Durst says NID took a hit, but Friends are still fighting on” (news article, July 4):

Madelyn Wils and the Hudson River Park Trust should be very happy. In the dead of night, our legislators in Albany gave them pretty much everything on their wish list, most notably, the potential sale of air rights.

Given this sweet deal, it’s puzzling that Friends of Hudson River Park is still pushing for the controversial neighborhood improvement district, or NID. Friends’ new line is that the legislation only helps with capital funding and, therefore, the NID is still needed for operating and maintenance funds.

However, that is inaccurate. By broadening the definition of accepted commercial activities within the park, allowing the Trust to levy a fee on commercial ship passengers that use the park’s terminals, passing the cost of insurance to city and state taxpayers and allowing longer commercial leases, the revised park act does a considerable amount to reduce the park’s operating costs and increase its operating revenues.

Friends may have a cash flow problem, but it makes no sense to solve that short-term problem with the imposition of a permanent tax on selected nearby residents. Especially since, as Douglas Durst argues, those residents’ property values may well suffer from the increased density that will result from a wall of taller buildings.

Instead, Friends should be advocating that a portion of the additional property tax revenue that will accrue to New York City’s coffers from the air rights transfer bonanza be earmarked for Hudson River Park maintenance. And Friends should be encouraging the Trust to live within its means, just as the rest of us have to do.
Sarah Bartlett, Nicole Vianna and Amy Johannes
Bartlett, Vianna and Johannes are members, Neighbors Against the NID

Proud moment for Sanitation

To The Editor:
This year’s Gay Pride March justifiably drew larger than usual crowds to the West Village. Unfortunately, a massive amount of garbage in the streets followed in their wake.

Amazingly, New York City’s unheralded Sanitation Department had it all removed by the next morning.
Jules Kohn

Willful disregard for others’ safety

To The Editor:
Re “Drag-racing driver careens onto sidewalk, injures 4” (news article, June 20):

The article refers to the crash on Second Ave. as an “accident.” There was no accident. There was a willful disregard for the safety of others by an out-of-control driver. Calling this tragedy an “accident” seems inappropriate.
Liam Quigley 

Distribute parks money fairly

To The Editor:
Re “Committee gives green light for a Wash. Sq. conservancy” (news article, June 13):

It’s admirable to want to improve a park — though fundraising on behalf of a park doesn’t require a special title, and “conservancy” now implies less about conserving nature and more about class distinction. For those of us who come from a community gardening perspective, the strategy is different. We build neighborhood self-help green spaces that can rely less on money and top-down methods and more on sweat equity.

But if private money is donated to a park, the Parks Department should distribute it where it is needed in the city park system. Elected representatives, community boards, the Parks workforce and local neighborhoods already provide checks and balances for negotiating where and how funding is spent.

The current lack of a just and enforceable tax code — and the subsequent impoverishment of government — is not an excuse for further reliance on privatization, or the anointing of a new layer of bureaucracy. Nor should it crassly entitle a donor to decide which public parks are funded.

That mentality sanctions and embeds a corrosive inequality in our public resources. Some parks go begging for bare necessities while others enjoy bloated budgets and salaries and are all too often under the sway of their wealthy contributors.
K Webster

Is this really the East Village?

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

I stand on the sidelines as a sentient objector to the ludicrous actions of not only the inept Dias y Flores board of directors — who can’t or won’t follow their own bylaws to govern the garden in fairness — but also Roland Choloutte’s unrighteous dictatorial decree to close membership to the garden. Is this even legal?

Hello? Are we still in the East Village, or is this some provincial, 200-person town ruled by cliques and good ol’ boy networks?

Our community gardens exist so people who live here can come celebrate nature, share stories and poetry and sing with friends and family with food and drink. Truly, if singing and playing acoustic musical instruments is considered disrupting the peace at 7 p.m. on a weekend, so be it! Can’t deal? Perhaps you should consider moving to the tranquil suburbs.

Our community gardens are not owned by private co-op boards nor by residents who border these plots of city property.

Jeff Wright, poet, artist and garden activist, has fought to protect community gardens for many years as a longtime resident, and this treatment he’s receiving is absurd. The East Village is home to many artists, poets, writers and musicians, and we will not allow our freedom of expression to be quelled by a few dowdy curmudgeons who would otherwise like to form their private social club at the garden.

We need more people like Jeff to push back against corrupt systems, to speak out and hold the people who make rules but do not follow them accountable. I’m happy to consider Jeff a friend and support him in his efforts.
Andrea LeHeup

Village View must let him back in

To The Editor:
Re “After fire, Village View man fights eviction effort” (news article, June 20):

Please, Bohdan needs help. He is trying very hard to keep his apartment. He lost his job. He got unemployment, but like many, he couldn’t find work. These jobs were outsourced and he ended up with Social Security. He got a thyroid condition, which gives him big problems. He was struggling along and his friends helped keep him from losing the apartment.

Now, due to the fire in his place, Village View has a good excuse to get an apartment that can be resold for a lot of money. Bohdan tells me every time we talk, that if he loses this apartment and what is left of his belongings, he will kill himself. Or he says, “I want to die in my sleep.” He has been waiting since March 1 for them to repair his apartment. He has no access to his home to get clothes or anything else that he needs. The management arranged to have his things put into plastic bags and thrown on top of his desk and other furniture, and also on the floor.

All his belongings were handled by strangers. He collected antiques and coins, which he used to sell to keep his place. All the closets and drawers were cleaned out by strangers, without him present.

Here is why I know this. I am his mother. I don’t live in New York and I am too ill to travel. My heart is bleeding and I am asking if there is somebody out there to save his life. He is a good person and is always very helpful to others. Please help.
Edith Rekshynskyj

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5 Responses to Letters, Week of July 11, 2013

  1. Nicole Vianna

    Visit nohrpnid.blogspot.com to read Neighbors Against the NID's analysis of the changes to the HRP Act and why the new short- and longer- term sources of operating income, if properly budgeted by the HRP Trust, make the NID unnecessary.

  2. The Hudson River Park TRUST has emasculated the organization known as Friends of Hudson River Park into a rubber stamp organization for the Trust.
    With Trust Board members on the Executive Committee and Chair there is no and will be NO VOICE advocating for the park that does not first pass through Diana Taylor or Madelyn Wils mouth.
    Friends now is merely a pay for play organization that, in the words of Ms. Wils …"is there to do the Trust's bidding".
    And that appears to be why Mr. Durst as well as the Vice Chair Ben Korman were forced to resign.

  3. I'm curious why the anti-NID group (regardless of whether people agree or disagree with their position) says that the FRIENDS should:
    "be advocating that a portion of the additional property tax revenue that will accrue to New York City’s coffers from the air rights transfer bonanza be earmarked for Hudson River Park maintenance".

    Why is that the responsibility of the Friends? The NID is either way into the future or dead, so why is the focus not 100% on our lawmakers? On what is happening as we speak? Why are the lawmakers who wrote and pushed the new language of the law not the ones being held accountable for this? Our Assemblymembers, Glick especially, have complained enough about the property tax revenue issue over the years in public meetings, and in print. I seem to recall consensus (I can remember no one speaking in opposition) that this is an issue which has been needing to be rectified. So why isn't it in the new law?

    The answer is because they just took the initiative to write new law without public discourse. Have they forgotten these prior conversations and pledges? Why is a dedicated and verifiable percentage of increased property tax revenue caused by an air rights transfer not part of this bill? The answer is that it was done haphazardly and without public input.

    How can we insist upon improvements being made to something we do not know is happening? This speaks volumes about what our legislators have come to feel about community input on the HRPT / Pier 40 issue. Were other legislators statewide who voted so overwhelmingly for this led to believe that there had been satisfactory community participation?

    We MUST tell Governor Cuomo that the community is not satisfied with this bill as written, that we are unhappy with HOW it was written, and encourage him not to sign it. If you look at it through the lens of content it comes up woefully inadequate on many fronts. If through the lens of process, it's an outrage.

    This is an act of stealthy desperation brought forth by an Assemblymember who has been lying to us when saying in these very pages that she does not believe Pier 40 to be in imminent danger. That the Trust is overstating the issue as a "scare tactic". Then why the last minute rush? What has changed so dramatically that we don't get to know about a change of this magnitude? That a Trust and developer friendly pier-saving effort had to happen in the dead of night, without community consultation, and in a completely different manner than had ever been discussed.

    Those who have been arguing that the air rights transfer issue has been "kicked around" for a while now are being disingenuous. Kicked around by whom, to whom? We deserve to know what happened behind the scenes. There should immediately, BEFORE THIS GOES TO CUOMO'S DESK, be a community forum where are Assemblymembers stand before us and answer our questions.

    Give us a full accounting of the process. And please, do this as quickly as you changed this law.

    • We MUST tell Govenor Coumo and the NEW MAYOR OF NYC to appoint new leadership of the Hudson River Park Trust and investigate the illegal lobbying of the Trust and Madelyn Wils who used the FRIENDS as a way to circumvent laws on lobbying.

      • Who appoints the HRPT Board and Management ?
        I'll have to go back and look at the Trust Act. New appointees is an issue I hadn't
        seen as looming yet, HK. Forget though, waiting for the new Mayor.
        I want to know where the candidates stand now.

        As I said earlier, these are definitely "walking out the door" type actions, though I wrongly attributed them to Glick. The reality is that our Assemblymembers were in fact bullied. It appears.

        More reason to hold the Assemblymembers accountable, and stop this now.

        To the community: does it not seem like an opportunity to work on the HRPT / Pier 40 issue, for the first time, with a Democratic Mayoral administration not tilting toward development, is being stolen from us just when a door is opening?

        This law must be stopped.

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