Volume 75, Number 18 | September 21 - 27, 2005

Letters to the editor



Pandora and park don’t mix

To The Editor:
The Washington Square Association is committed to the restoration of Washington Square Park. The board of directors of the association met on May 10 and approved the Parks Department design, which conforms to the historic nature of the park and was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

A great deal of fuss has been made about moving the fountain, which by the way, was centered in the park in 1852 before Fifth Avenue and the arch existed. You can actually see the fountain better looking through the arch, if moved 22 feet, creating an open portal for repose.

A project of this magnitude needs a vision. While it is expected that minor changes will occur to accommodate some requests, it’s impossible to please everyone. As Paul Goldberger in 1979 described the earlier redesign of the park — “Unfortunately, redesigning the park…opened up a Pandora’s box of local community involvement. Ultimately, the park was redone by committee…nothing stands as better proof of the old adage about committees — Washington Square Park is a camel. There is too much paving, too many of those clichéd streetlamps with round tops, too much overall sterility. Nowhere is there a sense of refuge from the city that a park should be expected to provide.” I guess history repeats itself.

The Washington Square Association has only one interest at heart: to have a beautiful park which fits within the framework of a historic neighborhood.
We are losing precious time by having such dissent among ourselves. We must move on before we lose city funding that has been committed and needs to be spent.

Anne-Marie Sumner
Sumner is president, Washington Square Association


Trees were going to pieces

To The Editor:
Re “Tree lovers are stumped by church” (news brief, Sept. 7):

A number of our neighbors have asked what happened to the trees on the lawn of Grace Church at the corner of Broadway and Tenth Street. Four trees were taken down in August as part of site preparation for a new gymnasium that Grace Church School is constructing underneath its lawn.

The fallen trees were Siberian elms with a lifespan in the city of 30 to 50 years. Our arborist confirmed that these 60-year-old trees, past their expected lifespan, were structurally impaired. As beautiful as they were they would have needed to be replaced in the near future regardless of the construction project. Large branches have fallen from these trees during recent storms, posing a hazard to pedestrians and vehicles and twice damaging the church.

In the spring of 2007, when construction is finished, the gym will disappear, and a new landscape plan will incorporate a larger garden and shade trees that will thrive in an urban environment and eventually grow to maturity.

George P. Davison
Davison is head of Grace Church School


Push polls were abrasive
To The Editor:
Scott Stringer conducted two telephone push polls this year. Last week, I got the second one. This ostensibly nonpartisan “opinion poll” began by asking if I’d chosen a candidate for borough president. I said, yes, Eva Moskowitz. The next question was, “If you knew that The New York Times endorsed Scott Stringer would that change your mind?” I broke in to say that The New York Times had too often over the last 50 years been out to lunch on politics in my neighborhood (not to mention its positions on the West Side Highway and the Port Authority) and then hung up — though now I wish I’d recorded the name of the “polling firm” rattled off quickly at the outset.

Speaking of The New York Times, however, many of us, male and female, are outraged that they called Moskowitz “abrasive” — no examples, no description, simply the scarlet “A.” When has The New York Times ever called a man abrasive? But surely a push poll (let alone two), a form of scummy political deceit, is far worse. In fact, the term “abrasive” applied to a woman probably means simply “assertive,” or “stands her ground,” which is arguably the opposite of deceitful.

I’d add that I’ve also received a barrage of anti-Moskowitz mailings from the Working Families Party, home of Lenore Fulani, notorious anti-Semite. So, even if Moskowitz were abrasive (which I seriously doubt), I’d count that in her favor.

Judy Seigel


Finally, Katrina in context

To The Editor:
Re “The view from France: Disbelief, shock and horror” (talking point, by Patricia Fieldsteel, Sept. 14):

Patricia Fieldsteel’s talking point “The view from France” was an excellent observation on the debacle of Hurricane Katrina. While much of our mainstream media has done a decent job of covering the hurricane and its aftermath, it has been weak in providing a larger context for the overall disaster and altogether lame in allowing a long line of politicians, most particularly the president, endless photo and spin opportunities.  For example (as Fieldsteel notes), there is little emphasis on our news about the death toll — and it is just now emerging that oil spills in the region may rival that of the Exxon Valdez. It seems the mainstream media is continuing its tendency to overcover the simpler aspects of a story while overlooking some of its most important, far reaching aspects.

Patty Schneider


The shame of New Orleans

To The Editor:
Regarding Hurricane Katrina: A hurricane may be a natural disaster but indifference is not. Neither is official abandonment. The threads that hold society together did not fall apart in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Those threads began unraveling years ago when money was siphoned from the country’s schools, hospitals and public programs to finance other endeavors: the incomprehensible continuing war in Iraq to name only one, and the thousands of innocent homeless victims it created there, not to mention the maimed and slaughtered. Now there is another cataclysmic catastrophe. One that by most accounts could have been avoided but shamefully wasn’t. A catastrophe which has robbed people of their homes, their livelihoods, their possessions and in many tragic cases their families, their very dignity. If you rob people of their home that’s one thing but if you rob them of their dignity, you have taken everything. Everything, except unbridled rage. What century are we living in? Who have we become?

Magie Dominic


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


Christopher kids are disorderly

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

Ms. Sklarz, I know you do not live on Christopher Street or in the West Village. But I do. I and my neighbors are awakened every night by disorderly people. I’ve lived here over 35 years. My neighbors and I have been plagued with this ugly behavior. When I am awakened every night by uncaring, disorderly people, I don’t know what race they are, and I don’t care.

The problems on Christopher Street are unique because it appears it has become the place to come to do whatever you want with impunity and without restriction. This knowledge is worldwide, advertised in every gay magazine and on the World Wide Web.

And these disorderly people are outraged when we complain.

Do you know the phrase “Walk a mile in my shoes”? Well, spend a weekend on Christopher Street. Have you ever heard of the golden rule? What do you think of “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”?

I prefer to be around people who are not antisocial in behavior, people who are kind, considerate and polite, whatever their race or place of birth, and I know, so do Ms. Goldman and Mr. Poster.

I agree there is a scourge of “gentrification” of the West Village. But the real scourge is the day-to-day and night-to-night noise and danger from people who do not live here.

Our “agenda” is to be able to have uninterrupted sleep each and every night and to be able to enter our homes without having to confront what amounts to a “hostile takeover” of our entrances and sidewalks. What is your agenda, Ms. Sklarz?
 
Darleen Rubin


We’ve had all we can take

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

The actions of Dave Poster and the Christopher Street Patrol are not those of racial profiling, for this unruly street behavior is neither an issue of race or sexuality, as Ms. Sklarz appears to claim. Perhaps she should take a walk through our neighborhood at night to see the way it changes as soon as it gets dark and continues past 5 a.m.

It seems to me that it is Ms. Sklarz’s responsibility, as a member of the community board, to represent, work for and care for all members of this community — its residents and business owners. I see on a daily basis the harassment of residents and business owners who must deal with this ever-increasing problem of unruly street behavior.

I, for one, am happy to see that the community is working together to save our neighborhood and our quality of life. The problems of prostitution, drug dealing and youths who have no respect for our beautiful neighborhood should be handled with as much fervor as the overdevelopment problems of the West Village.

I have suggested this before, and I will do it once again: Find a positive way to empower these kids to become a productive part of their community. I appreciate the attempt of sympathy made by Ms. Sklarz, but that is not what I need. I need a safe place for my family to live.

Karla Mayol


Westbeth board also failed

To The Editor:
George Cominskie, president of the Westbeth Artists Residents Council, praises the efforts of Christine Quinn while complaining that the City Planning Commission, the Landmarks Preservation Commission and Mayor Bloomberg all “failed to protect the interests of Westbeth” in the proposed landmarks designation for the Far West Village (“Quinn is doing the job,” letter, Sept. 7). Perhaps Mr. Cominskie should instead blame Westbeth’s own board of directors, which, as recently as February 2005, was refusing to support the neighborhood’s landmarking efforts (“Westbeth holdout slows push to designate historic district,” news article, Feb. 16). According to the February article in The Villager, the board’s president, Ben Green, “indicated...that following L.P.C. guidance for historic accuracy might be a burden for the one-square-block, 13-building complex.” While it is true that the Westbeth residents individually sent letters in support of landmarking to L.P.C., they should have put more pressure on their own board of directors to support the effort at the time. Sometimes it is necessary to put aside one’s own selfish interests for the good of the community as a whole. Westbeth’s current whining that that they haven’t been adequately protected by the proposed landmarking designation for the Far West Village rings hollow.

Cory Olicker Henkel


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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