Volume 75, Number 17 | September 14 - 20, 2005

Letters to the editor

Pace not sleeping with Singer
To The Editor:
Re “Is Pace U. in the bed with Singer megadorm?” (news article, Sept. 7):

Your headline and article implying that Pace University is working with the proposed Ninth St. dormitory project of the developer Gregg Singer are incorrect. The Pace housing director who was quoted, Michelle Perez, was not representing Pace in any manner. Pace University has no agreements with Mr. Singer and never has had any relationship with him or his company.
Meghan French
French is Pace University director of community relations  

Nena got a deal on garden

To The Editor:
As a resident of E. Third St. between Avenues C and D for the past 14 years, I would like to make a few points in response to your article “Horticulture versus health as gardeners battle clinic” from the Aug. 24 edition.

I would like to disagree with your reporter’s description of our block as “gritty.” The current grittiness of the block is due to the two large construction projects that are underway, both of which Ryan-Nena is involved with (one lot they own, the other they recently sold).

I would like to disagree with Mr. Brest’s assertion that opposition to the destruction of the Orchard Alley community garden on Third St. comes only from four or five people. Although it has been difficult to raise awareness of the issue (Ryan-Nena has not publicized their plans despite being told to do so in February by Community Board 3), over 1,000 community residents have now signed a petition opposing this action.

Finally, I would like to disagree with Ryan-Nena’s assertion that they acquired the property “fair and square.” The former Nena council acquired the property in the ’80s along with many other properties in the area. The means by which these properties were acquired were investigated and deemed to be illegal by the state Attorney General, after which time the former Nena council was dissolved. Since that time the property has been cared for by residents on the block (I myself have spent thousands of hours clearing out refuse, tilling the soil, planting trees, etc.). Why Nena was able to curtail the planned public auction and make themselves the only ones eligible to buy the property is a mystery. We acted as the property’s owners for over 16 years and had no chance to be involved in this process.

Ryan-Nena provides an important service to the community as a whole, but they are not currently acting as good neighbors. Although they work on our block, they seem to have no concern about the residents who live on the block. I am certain that the executives of Nena and the Met Council would not stand for such wanton destruction of the more affluent and politically-connected blocks on which they live.

Camille Forcier
Glad Stuy is offering Arabic

To The Editor:
Re “Stuyvesant Muslim students now able to study Arabic” (Back to School article, Sept. 7):

I'm a graduate of Stuyvesant High School and was very pleased to see an article about my alma mater's attempt at diversity in their language program. As one of the nation's leading high schools, I think it's very important to get the message out that Stuyvesant is supporting increased diversity in their language programs. In this day and age, when the world is getting increasingly smaller, it's very important that our students become educated in other languages. The article was well written and informative. Keep up the good work!

Joshua Reif

Beys disses local printers

To The Editor:
Last week I received a campaign mailing from Mike Beys who was running for City Council in my district — Number 2. The remarkable thing about the mailing is that, unlike all of the others I have received, it was printed and posted in Atlanta, Ga. This is clearly marked in the prepaid mailing box that contains the permit number.

I think Mr. Beys should be ashamed of himself. Here he is, running for a district in Lower Manhattan that contains probably the largest concentration of printers and direct-mail companies in the country — many of whom are still suffering from the effects of 9/11 — and he chooses to use a printer and mailing house in Atlanta! Talk about insensitivity!

Marvin Korman

Redesign harmful to Wash. Sq.

To The Editor:
I have lived within blocks of Washington Square Park for 20 years. My first 10 years were spent above Café Dante on MacDougal St., the latter 10 on lower Fifth Ave.

I became aware of the Washington Square Park redesign project on the date of its approval by the community board. It is a testament to Community Board 2 that it has decided to reconsider this approval.

Washington Square Park is a unique park to this neighborhood, and possibly Manhattan, where a diverse mix of people coexist within the grandeur of Village life that surrounds. I received a master’s in recreation and parks administration from Clemson University in 1978.

The redesign of Washington Square Park is wrong and, if completed, will be ignominiously proved as such.

Washington Square Park does not need to be redesigned. It is a perfect city park with intergenerational, interracial and inter-economic community uses.

The proposed “redesign” will inexorably change that which is not broken and destroy the historical spirit of Washington Square Park. The park presently draws community and tourism together. As one example, there are two chess shops near the park on Thompson St. and a private chess club on W. 10th St. across from Mark Twain’s former residence. People from all over the city and world come to this area to visit these community chess icons — and to witness disadvantaged people of color who play and teach chess in Washington Square.

My son had one of his first games of chess at a table in Washington Square Park and learned about chess and, as important, played with someone from another race and another economic bracket. This area does not need “redesign” — it is already doing perfectly what urban parks are meant to do.

I applaud the efforts of C.B. 2 to reopen the issue of approval for “redesign.” The redesign is unnecessary, at best, and mean spirited and/or predatory from outside pressures, at worst.

Jerome Poynton, MRPA

Quinn’s ‘developer dalliances’

To The Editor:

Re “Quinn must redeem herself” (letter, by Rachel Chanoff, Aug. 31):

Village resident Rachel Chanoff's reaction to The Villager's Aug. 24 article "Quinn says concretely that her vote can't be bought" on Councilmember Quinn's developer contributions, brought a bemused “only-if-they-knew-how-bad-it-really-was” sigh to many of the councilmember's constituents above 14th St.

The Villager only scratched the surface of Quinn's developer dalliances and subsequent sellouts.

Witness the Biltmore (47th St. and Eighth Ave., now commonly called the “Quinn Tower”) where Quinn took money from the developer's lobbyist shortly before a sham negotiation and failed to disclose this to community members. While she claimed the reduction from 62 to 53 stories was significant, financial documents obtained later showed the 53 stories was planned for all along. Quinn would not demand access to the developer's financial documents (despite community members’ suggestions that she do so), and rewarded the developer with many more floors than they would have received as of right.

No sound came from Quinn on the Orion Tower, 61 stories on 42nd St. (between Eighth and Ninth Aves.) now being built by the Extell Development Company. Quinn took $6,000 (not described in The Villager article) for a building financed by the Carlyle Group (George Bush Sr. and his Saudi friends). Nor did we hear any protest from Quinn on the eviction of her own office from 40th St. to make way for The New York Times building where dozens of businesses were forced out from eminent domain and giving the newspaper huge pork payoffs.

Most objectionable, however, was Quinn's behavior on the Hudson Yards and Chelsea West rezoning, where she pushed through an entire office district of 24 million square feet and 12.5 million square feet of luxury high-rises. Some of the office towers are expected to be 70 to 80 stories tall, so maybe all the other 50-to-60-story towers blocking light and air from Clinton and Chelsea are not so bad. The West Chelsea Plan promises a line of Miami Beach-style condo towers lining the river, dovetailing with the new “Quinn Office Tower District.”

Quinn effectively bulldozed half of the Clinton and Chelsea neighborhoods for her ambition to be Council speaker. To create an illusion of concern, she created a developer-driven fake grassroots (a.k.a. Astroturf) organization, financed and run by developers, not the community. While they were against the stadium, they were pushing for all the office towers. The public wasn't told of her lie.

While Quinn claims near 30 percent of the housing would be affordable, that is debatable, as large portions of the affordable housing are outside the rezoned areas, give developers huge bonuses and the towers have significant secondary displacement impacts on the entire West Side, which she refuses to consider. Much like the Williamsburg plan in Brooklyn, the affordable-housing claims have been greatly exaggerated to justify her sell-out.

So why should the West Village be any different? Above 14th St., Quinn has been doing this for years, lying about it, decimating Community Board 4; so it's merely a rubber stamp to justify her career-driven decisions.

Christine Quinn is not the same person many of us supported in 1999 when she stood up and publicly pledged she would never take developer money. But with the easy real estate moolah, she spends it not on her unopposed race for re-election, but to buy off votes from other councilmembers that would vote on her candidacy for speaker. In doing so, she has alienated many of her original supporters.

Quinn may give some lip service on the Far West Village plan, but only because it's politically not as high profile as the Hudson Yards, she may need continued kid-glove treatment from the media or maybe because she needs to hold onto the few constituents she has yet to double-cross or neighborhoods she has yet to decimate.

John Fisher; Christina Boers; William Strzempek; Susan Johann; Tony Giordano; Bruce Levine; Katharine Roberts; Allison Tupper; Ian Brand; Gilbert Annoual; Dee Demusis

Terrorized by bikers on 9/11

To The Editor:
I would love for someone to explain to me how "honoring the dead" on 9/11 has come to include thundering unmufflered motorcycles roaring through our neighborhood at dawn setting off car alarms. It is time for our local elected officials to insist on active enforcement of city noise ordinances against these thoughtless riders in the days leading up to and including our solemn day of remembrance. Manhattan, home of the highest population density in the country, is no place for such public displays of ego by (what I have noted to be mostly) out-of-towners. Some well-publicized handheld noise level meters at bridges and tunnels might limit the tide, but if these offenders make it to Ground Zero they should be stopped and ticketed on the spot.

Nathaniel Hupert

Poetic injustice

To The Editor:

He was on vacation;
He was out of town.
He could not be found;
He was on vacation.
He wouldn’t come around;
He was on vacation.
He let the people drown;
He was on vacation.
He let the people down;
Why? Why? Why? Why?

Ruth Kuzub

Maven: It’s all or nothing

To The Villager
Re “Umm, not exactly” (Scoopy’s notebook, Sept. 7):

Andrew Berman obviously didn’t read my former comments (“Landmark moment,” Scoopy’s notebook, Aug. 31) correctly. I am pushing for landmarking of all of the West Village, because if only individual buildings are designated, air rights can be transferred from them to adjoining properties. The example I cited in the previous Scoopy’s notebook was Ear Inn, and individual landmark, from which air rights were transferred to the adjoining property, leading to an oversized building. Since Ear Inn had not been built up to what the zoning permits, and as a landmark it was not permitted to add to the existing building, the unused air rights for the small building could be and were added to the proposed building on the adjoining lot.

Doris Diether
Diether is chairperson, Community Board 2 Landmarks Committee

Profile was instructive

To The Editor:
Re “Education director who kept the faith is now passing it on” (Back to School article, Sept. 7):

Thanks for a fine story this week about Alex Tanskiy, the new education director at The Village Temple. And, as always, thanks for publishing such an outstanding community newspaper.

William M. Abrams
Abrams is co-president, The Village Temple

Sklarz should get out more

To The Editor:
Re “Bidding on Christopher St. BID” (letter, by Melissa Sklarz, Aug. 31):

In her third paragraph, Ms. Sklarz says, virtuously, I guess, “I am grateful I am rarely out at 5 a.m…and wonder what the Sixth Precinct says about theft and youth attacks.” Why is she grateful she is rarely out at 5 a.m.? In high summer it’s a beautiful time of day! And why does she “wonder” about Sixth Precinct statistics on crime and assault? Go to the Sixth Precinct and ask. She will find there reports about a young woman tenant in this building returning from a walk on a beautiful summer’s morning at about 6 a.m. and being thrown to the ground and robbed by two husky young women — and her passport stolen. This violence is not “implied,” as Ms. Sklarz asserts. It’s real, actual, physical. It’s happened to me on the doorstep of this 1879 old-law tenement where I’ve lived since 1957.

The problem is there aren’t enough police. When a really heavy-duty incident takes place, such as the mini-gang fight that took place the other month in which two gangs “rumbled” at the at the corner of Christopher and Washington and literally endangered the lives of the diners, grabbing bottles off their tables and smashing them to use as weapons. Ask the owner of Malatesta. Then for a week and a half we get increased police patrols, and then it’s back to “regular” criminality.

Gentrification and luxury overbuilding is a menace that is driving us out, those of us who live on W.W. II V.A. pensions and Social Security. I led a rent strike in this building starting in 1973 that lasted for years; so I need not be lectured on the importance of low-cost housing by the likes of Ms. Sklarz — who does not live on Christopher St., but uptown many blocks.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out one day that the landlord class encouraged the noisemakers to turn Christopher St. into a “midway” to drive us out so that they could then decontrol all the buildings here and impose sky’s-the-limit rents. Thirty or 40 years ago, the landlord-sympathetic City Hall imposed the methadone ferry on us and showed every dope addict and dope pusher from all five boroughs where Christopher St. is and they’ve never let go. We don’t deserve punishment for crimes uncommitted. Ms. Sklarz is viciously playing the race card for her own political gain, and therefore she’s an enemy of every citizen-resident of Christopher St.

John Stanley

Alter ego confusion

To The Editor:
Re “Trying to shed some light on Village View finances” (news article, Aug. 17):

In the Aug.17 issue of your paper, you used the name Bertolt Von Zakheim. I would have responded sooner if I were able, but I was in Europe and so my delayed response.

Von Zakheim  does not exist, as the name is a conceit of my imagination. But certainly he was not interviewed, as he does not exist. I might agree with the contents of the article, but not as Von Zakheim, or then again, even as myself, as you did not interview me as myself, whoever he might be, using the name below, which is my legal name used on my birth certificate, banking, retirement fund, hopefully later than sooner for my epitaph and by those who love me. Those who hate me call me something else, not for polite company.

Bert Zackim

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