Volume 75, Number 22 | October 19 - 22, 2005

Letters to the editor

Square’s renovation is at risk

To The Editor:
This letter is in response to your editorial of Oct. 12 (“Parks must yield on fountain, fence and plaza plans”)

My family and I have lived in Greenwich Village since 1968. My children played in Washington Square Park all their young lives, first in the playgrounds, then on the mounds and finally, during college, they watched the performers around the fountain.

We loved the park and deeply regretted its decline. So I was thrilled when the Parks Department presented plans to renovate Washington Square Park. I attended several of the Community Board 2 meetings and was gratified, amused and horrified by some of my neighbors’ suggestions. All in all, I thought the Parks Department reacted well to the community’s suggestions and I was thrilled when the plan was passed by the Parks Committee and the whole board of C.B. 2. The Landmarks Preservation Commission also passed the proposal and I was very proud of both the plan and how responsibly it was ushered through the different stages.

Naturally, I always knew there were some who did not like parts of the plan; but there are always some who do not agree. However, that Councilmember Alan Gerson and now the C.B. 2 committee should try and change the whole plan to please a very few I find unconscionable.

Moving the fountain 22 or so feet while it is under restoration is only reasonable. Washington Square Park is the climax of Fifth Ave. and to see the fountain’s jets through the arch will be stunning. The mounds are a horror and were always dangerous, even when my kids were on them. Fences define a park and protect horticulture. If it were up to me I’d make the hardscape around the fountain even smaller. There’s so little grass left.

However, this park has to serve young and old, big and small and dogs, too. I am upset that you have allowed the aggressive activity of a few to sway The Villager. C.B. 2 has passed the plan. Landmarks has passed this plan. If implementation is delayed nobody knows when or if this needed restoration will happen.

Elizabeth Ely

Association is out of touch

To The Editor:
Regarding Anne-Marie Sumners’s recent letter, “Pandora and park don’t mix” (Sept. 21), what does Ms. Sumner mean by saying, “You can actually see the fountain better through the arch, if moved 22 feet, creating an open portal for repose”? Who can see the fountain better? From what vantage point? One would have to stop traffic and stand in the middle of Fifth Ave., I think. Do they intend to make a mall out of Fifth Ave. for this viewing? Only in the summer months? Will the Christmas tree then be erected on the new West Lawn? What in the world are they thinking? The Washington Square Association, of all groups, should be concerned with the history of our historic park. Moving the fountain from the east-west axis of the park where it was first placed in 1852 is tantamount to moving the Statue of Liberty under the Brooklyn Bridge for better viewing, and damn the cost!

Ms. Sumner refers to city funding we might lose if we don’t stop this fuss and move on. That city funding is my tax dollars and yours. Why not use it specifically to demolish the horrid restrooms in the park and replace them with new ones? The park needs repairs, repaving, renovations of its playgrounds and replacement of benches and missing parts. It dearly needs to be refreshed and maintained. We do not need this radical redesign and relocation of the fountain for an “open portal for repose.”

Ms. Sumners’s use of the Paul Goldberger quote that “Washington Square Park is a camel” was inappropriate. Since we do not have an anointed king in New York City, fortunately, we must rely on local community involvement and on committees that have served Greenwich Village well. If it had not been for Village activists in the past we would now have a highway through the park. The Washington Square Association is forgetting its history and the role they have played in the Village for so long. We hope they can rethink this entire demolition of the park, the years of closure and construction it would bring and the simple solution of repairs and restoration of the park. We would rather “lose city funding” to another of the mayor’s pet projects.

Let’s hope that concerned Villagers will voice their opinions at the Art Commission hearing when it is scheduled. This is our last hope to stop the redesign of our cherished park and the ultimate destruction and relocation of the world-renowned fountain and sunken plaza in Washington Square Park.

Mary T. Johnson
Johnson is a member, Washington Place Block Association

V.I.D. has to walk the walk

To The Villager:
I read William Stricklin’s talking point in the Oct. 5 Villager (“Righting record on County Committee”). I wish he had read Ed Gold’s Villager article (“V.R.D.C. looks strong in County Committee elections,” Sept. 7) a little more carefully and had not misconstrued his comments. My conversation with Ed Gold concerned the petitioning process and not the election. I was proud of the amount of work the Village Reform Democratic Club had done and I still am. There’s nothing wrong with that. It also seemed that you were using his article to take a swipe at the V.R.D.C. It wasn’t necessary, especially after you and I had worked together for Betsy Gotbaum’s re-election to public advocate. I do want to take a moment to congratulate the Village Independent Democrats on their elections of County Committee members. They have 56 members and the V.R.D.C. have 53 or 54, depending on how a tie is treated by the district leaders. In addition to this matter, 10 vacancies will be filled on Oct. 27 at the annual County Committee divisional meeting. I also wish to congratulate V.I.D. on the race for judicial delegates and alternates. You did very well there.

In all fairness, the readers should get a complete picture of what went on. Several weeks before petitioning started, we talked about having a meeting to discuss County Committee. V.R.D.C. offered a 50/50 split so both clubs would have more time to devote to the larger races. V.I.D.’s counter offer was a 60/40 split with their getting the larger part. I know this seems petty and it is, I’m sorry to say. Neither club would budge so we had an election. Still there was nothing wrong with that. We would let the democratic process settle the debate.

Several weeks into the petitioning process, I contacted you about a no-challenge agreement between the two clubs. Your response was that your election committee would agree to not challenging if they got 60 percent of the County Committee members. I contacted you two more times and again you said that your election committee was not interested. You left V.R.D.C. with no choice and, when we subsequently talked, you said that you were not upset with what we did. I now see that this was not the case and I’m sorry that you were offended. All you had to do was ask and we would gladly have made a no-challenge agreement.

I could continue the dialogue, but it even bores me and it won’t get the Democratic Party ahead. As I said, V.I.D. ended up with 56 elected members and we got 54. A whole lot of fussing over a few kernels of corn. Quoting your last line, “We at the V.I.D. extend an olive branch to all who seek to strengthen and move the Democratic Party forward, but never at the expense of our progressive and reform principles.” Great last line! Now prove it.

Usually those vacant spaces are filled in by a divisional meeting of our assembly area, but this year the two district leaders have decided not to have this meeting and to fill the vacancies themselves. We only ask for fairness as we did so many months ago. V.R.D.C. has tried to bridge the gap between us many times over the last few years with little results. Now it’s your turn. When New York Democratic County Committee meets on Oct. 27, we’ll see how your club handles these 10 vacancies. We’ve taken many first steps; we’re still waiting for yours.
Raymond Cline
Cline is president, Village Reform Democratic Club

Monster owes it to Fischer

To The Editor:
Re “Tompkins Square chess player has created a monster” (news article, Oct. 12):

In Daniel Wallace’s profile on Chess Monster, the game which the latter plays (“Chess Monster chess”) is not his own invention but that of Bobby Fischer. The name of the game is, in fact, Fischer-Random chess and has been on the scene for quite a while; for the past several years, high-level tournaments have been devoted to the game exclusively. It is also variously known as Chess 960. I know Chess Monster myself and have played Fischer-Random with him before, but oddly enough, I don’t think he himself knows the origins of the game.
Boris Tsessarsky

Don’t rub it in, please

To The Editor:
In the article “Artist takes on new role: Hepatitis C educator” (Oct. 12) by Ronda Kaysen, she states “...for sufferers of a disease that often strikes people living on the margins.” Later on, Kaysen mentions that “stigma might be part of the reason why H.C.V. is so rarely discussed in the public arena.” Gee, thanks, Ronda. I see you’re doing your part to perpetuate the stigma. Way to go. Was it really necessary to imply that most of us live on the margins? Because you know, most of us really don’t.

Kathryn MacDonald

West is the best on 8th St.

To The Editor:
I’m writing in reference to your recent article in the Oct. 5 issue “Korean cosmetics store lays foundation on Eighth St.”

While the store in the article is on E. Eighth St., as one of the property owners along W. Eighth St., between Fifth and Sixth Aves., and the former director of the Village Alliance, I thought you might be interested to know that we also are working to increase the diversity of the area. We have already established tenancy for the Choux Factory, a Japanese-run puff pastry store, and currently are negotiating to bring in a Belgian waffle cafe along the W. Eighth St. corridor.

It may also be of interest to you and your readers that Sound Sleep Foam and Futon chose this street as the new location of their store after three generations on the Lower East Side; and Remixx Fashions Inc. provides alternative, nonmainstream fashion to a new generation of shoppers.

Aside from catering to the tourists who flock to this famous street — which includes the cottage once inhabited by Jimi Hendrix, which we own and manage — Bonner Hair Salon and Soho Nail Salon are two examples of our tenants who serve the growing residential neighborhood and shoppers from Greenwich Village.

One final note of interest: the owners of these properties along the W. Eighth St. corridor, all former Villagers themselves, have formed a corporation and called the entity Return to Home, a nostalgic nod to their previous residences in the area.

Norman Buchbinder and Eileen Vahey
Buchbinder is principal and Vahey is managing executive of Buchbinder & Warren LLC

Keep the Koch coming!

To The Editor:
Re “Cindy’s rhetoric just isn’t right: It’s extreme left” (talking point, by Ed Koch, Oct. 5):

I loved having Ed Koch as my congressman and I loved having him as my mayor, even though I did not always agree with his policies. I really enjoy his movie reviews and he is one of the few Democrats who has retained a sense of objectivity amid the hysteria in his party. Please continue to allow him to express his opinions.

Cindy Sheehan is a grieving mother who has been manipulated by left-wing extremists. She does not speak for me.
Paul K. Piccone

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