Letters, Week of July 25, 2013

Leading women support Kurland

To The Editor:
We are a group of women who have worked hard and gotten involved in the political process. We do this for ourselves and our families, to create a world where all of our daughters can have opportunities equal to those given to our sons. In the City Council race here in District 3, on Manhattan’s West Side, we believe the best candidate is Yetta Kurland.

The Villager seems to focus its reporting on attacks against Yetta, who had the guts to take on Christine Quinn a few years ago, and who has upset some members of the political establishment by fighting passionately to save St. Vincent’s Hospital. We can understand why some looking to make a deal over the hospital closure may not have appreciated Yetta Kurland’s strong advocacy for healthcare and against the millionaire developers who stood to make so much money by closing the hospital and building luxury condos.

But that doesn’t change one thing: Yetta Kurland was fighting for her community with skill and with passion, working with more than 8,000 community members, as well as grassroots organizations, unions and local groups.   In doing so, she showed respect to the elected officials, staying in constant communication with the Borough President’s Office, the Public Advocate’s Office, and local, state and national leaders. She did this without compromising the community’s message. This is a sign of a gifted advocate. As we watch other communities’ leaders getting arrested in civil disobedience fighting to save Long Island College Hospital and other hospitals, we see the importance of Yetta’s work. We also see the temperance and discipline she demonstrated during one of the most challenging times in our community’s history.

Where we come from, that is exactly what a city councilmember is supposed to do, and we support Yetta Kurland for Council precisely because she did advocate for her community, even when some powerful people asked her to quiet down and go away.

Yetta Kurland has demonstrated the courage and the intelligence to speak out on many issues. She sued the New York City Fire Department in order to win equal pay for female firefighters. Her clients recently won a generous settlement with the city. She has defended tenants facing unfair eviction. She has served on the national board of Marriage Equality. She has gone to court to protect protesters, the victims of hate crimes, and L.G.B.T.Q. people demanding their equal rights under the law.

While The Villager has a right to its own editorial judgment, we ask that your readers be given a fair portrayal of Yetta Kurland’s candidacy. She is a woman of character and courage, and that is why we support her.

 Betsy Gotbaum, former New York City public advocate
Jean Grillo, district leader, 66th Assembly District, Part B
Trudy L. Mason, Democratic State Committeewoman
Denise Spillane, district leader, 75th Assembly District, Part B
Erin Loos Cutraro, managing vice president and political director, Women’s Campaign Fund
Virginia Davies, West Village resident
Jill Greenberg, co-chairperson, Working Families Party, Manhattan chapter (for identification purposes only)
Velma Hill, vice president, Chelsea Midtown Democratic Club
Kim Moscaritolo, former president, Manhattan Young Democrats
Patricia Rudden, president, Women’s Democratic Club
Elaine Schulman, president, Ansonia Independent Democrats
Jeanne Wilcke, president, Downtown Independent Democrats  (for identification purposes only)

 No NID is a bad idea for park

To The Editor:
It is rare to hear an argument against more open space for Downtown. Most people I encounter want more — more fields, more playspaces, more bike paths, more everything. One visit to Tribeca’s Pier 25 on a weekend or Washington Market Park after school lets out will show you that in fact we don’t just want it — we need more open space Downtown.

An argument against the Hudson River Park Neighborhood Improvement District is an argument against more open space. Gone are the days when government builds new parks on a grand scale without having a revenue stream to support them. The NID is good planning for a neighborhood that uses its parks like no other. The NID allows neighbors to proactively support a resource they need and love. The yearly cost of the NID to Downtown residents is very small relative to the value of the park in our lives.

Hudson River Park can live within its current means, yes. It does that now. But the job we have as stewards of the park is to plan for the future, not just to get by for the time being. Two-thirds of the park’s budget goes to structural maintenance, security, lights and utilities, and cleaning.

So to continue to run the park on our current income means we won’t be able to complete the park’s full construction, or worse, commercial development where park should be. It also means, as time goes on, that the park will no longer look like the one we know today, or be maintained or policed the way it is today, as costs for everything from security staff to power to garbage removal go up. Already I have heard suggestions not to build the remaining sections of the park that are still uncompleted, to save maintenance costs. This is a shortsighted, uninspired and, frankly, depressing notion.

Perhaps another solution will come along in the next several years. Or perhaps by then we will have missed a chance to ensure a strong future for the park we all depend on.
Pam Frederick
Frederick is a board member, Hudson River Park Trust

Air-rights idea a good compromise

To The Editor:
Re “Pier air rights may open a Pandora’s box of development” (talking point, by Andrew Berman, July 18):

The amendments to the Hudson River Park Act, if signed by the governor, will improve the prospects for a sustainable Hudson River Park.

The sale of air rights cannot proceed without an approval process that will offer the opportunity to balance the need for public open space — and, in particular, the opportunity to save the large-footprint sports fields at Pier 40 — with the need to protect the park and the adjacent neighborhoods from the wrong kinds of development.   It’s a good thing when opportunities for development are linked to requirements to meet the needs of a growing community, because the more common zoning approach simply makes a huge gift of new development rights to property owners.

These changes come as a responsible compromise after a long period of public debate about how to secure the future of the park. The only property in the Village where more development is likely to result is the St. John’s Center, a site where the underlying manufacturing zoning is outdated and likely to be changed in any case.  We will need an open process to assure the most benefit to the park in the context of sustaining the quality of life in our neighborhoods. But if we want the benefits of a waterfront park, we can’t just keep saying “No.”
Tobi Bergman
Bergman is a member, Pier 40 Champions, and chairperson, Community Board 2 Land Use and Business Development Committee

Enjoy your ‘AIDS Memorial’ condos!

To The Editor:
Re “Fewer but wealthier tenants for former St. Vincent’s site” (news article July 11):

They will be living in the actual AIDS Memorial, and that is how locals will always refer to that set of buildings now. They will never be able to escape this designation, and it will forever be foisted upon them.

“Oh, you live in the ‘AIDS Memorial’.”

“No, I live in The Greenwich Lane.”

“No, you live in the AIDS Memorial.”
Patrick Shields

‘Speed racers’ better get brakes

To The Editor
Re “Speeding cyclist slams woman on Broadway” (June 27):

I’ve been a bike rider on these mean streets since 1970. I never once hit a pedestrian. However, pedestrians have hit me, on a couple of occasions, by casually walking out from between parked cars in the middle of the block and against the light.

My bike has brakes. Bikes without brakes are speed racers. Theoretically, I could be given a ticket if I ride my bike without lights at night. Maybe if the law required that speed racers without brakes could not be driven on city streets, an incident like you report here would not take place.
Gary Friedman

Editor’s note: According to the New York City Department of Transportation’s “Summary Listing of Bicycle Laws, Rules & Regulations,” working breaks actually are required on bicycles in the city.


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13 Responses to Letters, Week of July 25, 2013

  1. Patrick Shields

    We appreciate and understand the point, Tobi, but the reality of the potential new law, as it is written,
    is a one time deal. A one time windfall. It makes no commitment to ongoing funding and maintenance for Pier 40, or the park generally, which means that there will continue to be an ongoing and divisive debate about what revenue producing development will STILL happen on the pier, and throughout the park. As is still allowed, in fact, required, by law. We will be right back in the middle of a Pier 40 debate, as fast as you can say "the air rights are already sold".

    So then the battle will become twofold, even worse than now. 1.) How many small revenue producing commercial products will have to be spread all over the park and the pier, in order to fund the future, and 2.) How to manage and keep track of the development pressures, zoning and preservation issues, on the block off the park, from the air rights transfers. We get it that there is a process, we get it that there is community input. In theory, but not in practice.

    As was proven by the underhanded way this law was written. Who wrote it? The HRPT? Were you aware of it, Tobi, in advance? We deserve an answer to that question, particularly since you and the Champions pushed so hard for high rise development as a solution.

    This one time windfall merely gets the park "caught up". It will quickly fall behind again, with financial needs and pressures imminent, and no more air rights to sell.

    It's a bad deal.

    I support you, Tobi, and have done my best to get the community to come up with ideas we all can "say yes" to. I have come up with one. Sadly it hasn't gotten traction, sadly the community has come up with no other alternatives, and our Assemblymember has offered no guidance. I too, have been willing to challenge to lack of realism and intransigence of the "no with no alternatives" crowd.

    But to go down this road is to give in to development pressure, completely, both on, and off the pier.
    A lose-lose proposition.

    I urge you to take a step back and let the alternative soccer plan be presented to the full community, just once, in a soccer plan only meeting. If I can convince a few, maybe a chance. If not, I'll walk away and say I've tried my best.

  2. Patrick Shields

    For those arguing that there has been a bias against Yetta Kurland (who I like, but don't know if I support yet), the bias you speak of is based, it seems to me, on blog posts. I have seen no editorial bias here, it has been from published posts from her opposition, publicly, on the web-side. I believe the group posting is incorrectly responding to those who have posted in opposition to Ms. Kurland, not to the editorial staff.

    That is a huge accusation to make, and I encourage them to take a step back and look at the record of editorial comment vs reader comment here.

    I have been blogging here, since the first day available, and I have never seen a rejection of a post, unless profane or vulgar, no matter what the issue. How can such a large group of well respected women suggest that allowing complete press freedom to regular readers is the same as the editorial comment of the paper? Take a step back and look at the actual editorials. This was an unfair accusation. This is the web, and reader posts, not just the Villager.

    And for those suggesting that the paper is a "lapdog", get real. Unfair, unsubstantiated, petty, and false.

    We have a healthy debate here. Far more reader debate than "Villager editorial". They let us roll without censorship.

    I don't expect everyone, or ANYONE, I debate with here to agree with me, but one thing I know for sure, is that my ideas have NEVER been stifled. And that if they ever were, my issues with that would be taken outside both the print and web versions and into the community by verbal and printed messenger.

    Oh, and by the way, if you haven't heard, I believe Deb Glick should step down, for the sin of allowing young female interns to be harassed, with no punishment to their male superiors.

    Let's see if that makes the cut…

    There is journalism here.

    • Patrick, I just want to say, I enjoy all your comments on different subjects. They are intelligent honest to a fault and well written. I agree we need to come up with solutions and that it is easy to be against everything. I am probably going to be in political trouble for praising you. As you have stepped on a few toes,and I am a Democratic District Leader in the 66 AD. But my mother always said to give criet and praise when it is deserved.
      John R Scott

  3. Unfortunately Ms. Frederick as a Trust Board Member it is because of the ineptitude and disfunction of your Board that has resulted in the serious consequences the park finds itself in.
    Time for Govenor Coumo and the Next Mayor to appoint a New Chair as per the Hudson River Park Act -or was that part of the legislation been changed by Madelyn Wils as well.
    Residents and Park Advocates would benefit from this weeks Wall Street Jounal Article on some of the questionable work of your Board and Adminstrator.

    • and what exactly is wrong with that? No one else will step up and improve the piers. Every politician just wants to tax locals residents. If someone wants to come out and do us all the gracious favor of improving our public spaces, they should have every right to put their stamp and name on it.

      • Nothing's wrong with getting voluntary donations of private money to improve the piers or pay for maintenance in the park and naming rights are ok. What's wrong is using any money for capital projects without a full plan for financing the upkeep and then later crying poverty as an excuse to abuse the Business Improvement District law to pay for your private passion and folly. What private business would build a new plant or headquarters without knowing how much it will cost to run the place and exactly where that money will come from before the ground is broken?

  4. Concerned Resident

    Great, just what we need a crazy undulating pier designed to Barry Diller's liking with no plan for maintenance! Did Pam Frederick write her letter before the air rights plan got announced? Because I think the "solution" she hoped would come along already did- albeit with no public input. All of these Villager articles about Durst and the WSJ articles are hilarious. The Trust is making a mockery out of what should be a simple public park. By the time they finally start reaching out to those with deep pockets, noone is going to want to touch this mess.

    • Patrick Shields

      Yes, the Trust is making a mockery, but the community has also failed to come up with, or support any existing community driven idea, which can overwhelm the Trust's power. Because of this Glick and Gottfried have given in. Their frustration combined with the Trust's arrogance and power. So what are we going to do about it? We still can press, as the Sierra Club and others are, for Cuomo to veto the bill. The unbelievable anti-union provisions alone at the end should be enough to have this community up in arms.
      Read it here, at the "View latest bill test" button: http://openstates.org/ny/bills/2013-2014/S5824/

      This language was voted for in committee, and by both the Assembly and the Senate, by members who would have thought twice about it if they had actually read it. Or had time to read it. Clearly they didn't, and now they need to learn about it. They need to be held accountable.

      I'll post after work today with contact links for Cuomo, Hotel and Motel Trades Council/AFL-CIO, and the Sierra Club, and text you can use to let the Governor know you oppose S5824-2013/A8031-2013. This is an outrage. On its surface, good for the community, in reality, a complete and devastating renunciation of community input by the Trust.

      They can spin it all they want, but it is a bad deal, done in the darkness, and behind our backs. And that means both the Trust, and our elected representatives, did this behind our backs, and against our wishes.

      • Patrick Shields

        It would be great, Concerned Resident" if just for once the"simple public park" supporters would be realistic about a couple of things. The Pier 40 part of the "simple public park" needs a helluva a lot of money to be rescued/repaired. You can't just gloss over this absolutely real and expensive fact and be taken seriously.
        Unless you have a mechanism in place to undo the Hudson River Park Trust, and revert the park to the control of the New York City Department of Park and recreation (this is what you want, right?), and find funding and political will for all of this, comments like that, filled with hope but utterly simplistic, cannot possibly be taken seriously.

        If you want these things, tell your neighbors how you intend to make it happen. In the meantime, this law is headed for Cuomo's desk, and our elected representatives will not even give us the courtesy of letting us know when this will happen, so we know how to fight it.

        We're backed up to our own goal line, and playing against a much bigger team. What is your plan? If you don't have one, will you assist me in mine?

  5. My plan is to not rescue/repair the pier. Save hundreds of millions of dollars and not spend the next 3 decades spending the largest amount in the budget on debt service. I would scale back the landscaping and eliminate much of the staff, esp. those at the top. There is plenty of room on land for vendors to fund the park with limited capitalism. Now Patrick may not like this plan, but barking that no one else has a plan is just a big fat lie that he uses to drown out and intimidate other readers here.

    • Patrick Shields

      Again, that sounds to me like a plan to tear down the pier and adding vendors to the remainder of the park.
      Which to this community, means tearing down a potentially 15 acre park, and filling much of the rest of the park with commercial activity.

      Clearly when I'm challenging others to come up with a plan, it is for a plan to keep, repair and develop the pier.

      No one who has their post published here has in any way been drowned out or intimidated. Your post is here, who am I, the editor of The Villager now?

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