Volume 75, Number 27 | November 23 - 29, 2005

Letters to the editor

Monumentally wrong charges

To The Editor:
In Scoopy’s Notebook (“Remember the Alamo,” Nov. 9), in reference to the whereabouts of Tony Rosenthal’s “Alamo,” the cube-shaped sculpture temporarily removed from Astor Pl., you quote an anonymous reader as saying, “The New York City Parks Department has a long history of losing plaques, monuments, historical statues, etc.,” implying that we do not hold in high regard our historical legacy.

Your reader’s comment is without any basis in fact, and does a disservice to Parks Department administrations since the 1930s that have endeavored to protect and restore the historic monuments in our midst. Though an occasional plaque has been stolen — through the actions of vandals and not the city — we know of no instance where the Parks Department itself has been negligent.

All monuments and public art on public view, no matter how modest, are accurately catalogued and monitored at least once a year — many much more frequently. Any salvaged artifacts and fragments are held in a secure storage compound, and inventoried. Should the reader quoted (or any of your readers) believe that there has been any recent loss of a monument or marker, they should contact me directly and we will take action to resolve the problem.

Indeed, in recent years we have conserved or restored numerous historic monuments in and around the Village, including the Abingdon Square Doughboy, the Alexander Holley monument, the Garibaldi statue and arch in Washington Square, the General Sheridan sculpture in Christopher Park and the Slocum and Temperance fountains, as well as Samuel Cox, in Tompkins Square Park. Even smaller monuments, such as the Fireman’s Memorial in J.J. Walker Park and the marker to Corporal Seravalli in the park of the same name, receive annual attention.

And with regards to the “Alamo,” not only is the sculpture still in tact, but it was fully restored and returned to its home on Astor Pl. last Friday.

Jonathan Kuhn
Kuhn is director of art and antiquities for the city Department of Parks and Recreation

Volunteers corrections

To The Editor:
Re “Volunteer: I was told Lopez records are missing” (news article, Nov. 9):

The statement “a Lopez volunteer has come forward” is incorrect. The reporter, Lincoln Anderson, called me at my home on Fri. Nov. 4 during the afternoon.

Also inaccurate is the statement that “Van Aver called [Anne] Johnson.” I have never called Ms. Johnson.

Philip Van Aver

Scoopy in cube catfight

To The Editor:
Re “Slow cube coming” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Nov. 16):

I love The Villager. It’s usually really way ahead on news that really matters to Downtowners like me. But someone sent me this Scoopy’s Notebook today. He or she should read what we actually printed before “correcting” us based on some Parks Department flack’s statement.

(Also, I live in the East Village, and the cube returned last Thursday. It was covered by a tarp.)

Carl Swanson
Swanson is senior editor, New York magazine

No more ugly dorms!

To The Editor:
Please inform John Sexton and Lynne Brown that the people who live in the East Village (even those who do not live between Third and Fourth Aves.) are very upset and adamantly against the notion of a 26-story building in their neighborhood. Why should N.Y.U. be allowed to do this? In no way is a building of this size contextual to the neighborhood nor is it even in context to their other dormitories all less than 11 stories. It is an insult for N.Y.U. to say that they are working closely with the community; at this moment there is no evidence of this. This community is a residential community with more ugly dormitories than any community should have to live with; perhaps the city of New York and Lower Manhattan (the Financial District) should welcome these young people into their community; it is not a densely populated area as is the East Village. For over 20 years the city has been trying to re-create and revitalize Lower Manhattan into a residential neighborhood. We do not need or want an additional 700 students here.

Monica Hill

No to dormus enormous

To The Editor:
As an architect, an N.Y.U. graduate and a resident of the East Village, I am most disturbed about the proposed N.Y.U. dormitory on E. 12th St., as reported in the Nov. 15 issue of The Villager (“N.Y.U. dorm planned on E. 12th St.,” news brief).

N.Y.U. President Sexton says that the 26-story structure will contribute to student life but what is clear is that this will come at the expense of the neighborhood and its residents. The building will be totally out of scale with its surroundings and the presence of an additional 700 students will only increase the disturbance to an area already overburdened with students and weekend visitors.

While the developers and N.Y.U. should be commended for retaining the facade of St. Ann’s Church, there is little reason to expect that the proposed building will have any architectural merit or distinction, given the mediocre quality of what N.Y.U. has built in the East Village in the past.

The local community and its elected officials should make clear to N.Y.U. in the strongest terms possible that the proposed building and their continued, unplanned, piecemeal development process are not acceptable.
Tony McAndrew

N.Y.U. disregards community

To The Editor:
I have been an East Village resident for almost 20 years. It is a great artistic community. I am sure that is the reason N.Y.U. students want to be here. What I am distressed about is N.Y.U.’s total disregard for the community it lives in. As soon as space is available they build a dorm. And now they want to build the monster of all dorms, a 26-story high-rise in a neighborhood of residential low-rise buildings. If this building is allowed it will become the new measuring stick for buildings allowed. And soon the East Village will go the way of other neighborhoods, where builders are allowed to build whatever they please. N.Y.U., please rethink this. Otherwise the reason that you want to be in this neighborhood to begin with will be gone. 

Gary Pozner

Gay hub or gay hubbub?

To The Editor:
Re “Gay youth slam Trust’s Christopher St. gates plan” (news article, Nov. 9):

My neighbors and I attended the last Community Board 2 meeting where the L.G.B.T. youth were barely able to contain their hostility, and we read your thoughtful article in The Villager. We also read the information card being handed out to FIERCE members at that meeting, which we found very disturbing and which read in part:

“The Pier and the West Village is the only safe space in N.Y.C. for L.G.B.T. youth of color.

The whole community needs to be involved in determining solutions that work for everyone.

L.G.B.T. youth of color are a part of the West Village community. They always have been and they always will be. FIERCE is committed to community dialogue with residents, businesses, police, the Hudson River Park Trust and elected officials.”

The Gay and Lesbian Community Center on 13th St. is also a safe and supervised haven for all gay people. In fact, there are a plethora of establishments all over the city that are willing to welcome anyone who does not exhibit antisocial and “acting-out” behavior.

The residents of the West Village do not support extending the curfew until 4 a.m. We have a quality of life issue which has nothing to do with race or gender. We do not want the noise, the public sex and prostitution, drug dealing, harassment and, again, noise, that seems to come with the territory of the L.G.B.T. youth.

It is deluded to think the West Village is still the gay hub of New York City. Neighborhoods change and mutate, and this is not the kind of neighborhood they seem to think they want, and hasn’t been for a very long time. The leather bars, sex clubs and sex piers no longer exist. Clue?

These youths want to be included in the decisions we make for our neighborhood, yet their only contribution is “hanging out.” Hanging out, making noise and behaving rudely are the only cards they bring to the table.

The article in The Villager reported on an exchange between the president of the Hudson River Park Trust and a 20-year-old lesbian who did not know the difference between “rhetorical” and “retarded.” I wondered why she felt that “hanging out” took precedence over availing herself of our public school system and learning to communicate at an adult level.

We are not opposed to L.G.B.T. people or their lifestyle. But where is the outreach program that teaches the more rewarding goal to set is getting an education, a job and a productive, rather than abrasive, lifestyle?

My neighbors and I recommend that the Hudson River Park Trust have the courage of their convictions and maintain the 1 a.m. curfew; that Community Board 2 and elected officials support that decision; and that the Police Department use the new officers they have acquired to also patrol the area below Houston St. on a 24-hour basis where they are needed.

Jay Jeffries

Don’t cast off historic ship

To The Editor:
Because we know there is a great deal of interest in preserving waterfront history, the North River Historic Ship Society has sought to help save and restore some of the unique old ships that once sailed American waters.

One of these is the historic ferry Yankee, brought to the West Side in 1990 and restored for over 14 years at Pier 25 in Tribeca. Yankee is a 1907 former Ellis Island ferry, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The ship is in need of a new docking space while the Hudson River Park Trust is rebuilding Piers 25 and 26.

As advocates for historic ships in New York Harbor, we think that the staff at the Trust would be doing the right thing to offer Yankee interim space within the park, as has been done for the other tenants at Piers 25 and 26. As much as soccer fields and kayaking and grassy lawns on piers are components of Hudson River Park, so too should be historic ships — they are a real and tangible link to New York’s maritime past and provide a much-needed addition to the waterfront park experience. Over five years ago, Hudson River Park designated three “Historic Ship Piers” — Piers 25, 54 and 97. Perhaps one of the remaining two piers would work, or another location within the park?

While we realize the current Yankee owners may have caused problems for themselves with the Trust staff, we also think that opening up historic ships for educational purposes, cultural programming and tours to the public is a good thing, and we believe Yankee can continue to contribute to that end. Further, we know that the option of onboard ship keepers, responsible for the 24-hour safety of historic vessels, is a plus, since they add to the overall security of ships and the surrounding area. Remember, historic ships are not like buildings that you just lock up at night.

The Trust has been supportive in the past of historic ships, both by giving historic steamship Lilac a berth at Pier 40 and by allowing Pier 63 Maritime to remain in the park. But hearing all the concerns expressed in the Lower Manhattan community about the sanitization of the waterfront as a result of new park construction, eliminating Yankee looks like one more step in that direction. Is that what the public wants?
Captain John Doswell, Captain Eric Fischer, Captain Huntley Gill, Betsy Haggerty, Captain Pamela Hepburn, Captain John Krevey, Julie Nadel, David Sharps

The above individuals are the board of directors, North River Historic Ship Society

Demise exaggerated

To The Editor:
Re “Kaufman and Friedman hope to run for Sanders’s seat” (news article, Nov. 9):

In your article regarding possible Democratic candidates for Steven Sanders’s Assembly seat, Donald Tobias is identified as the former district leader and president of the “defunct Tilden Club.”

Your description of Mr. Tobias is partially correct. He is, indeed, a former district leader and president. However, the Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club, Part C of the 74th Assembly District, is absolutely not defunct!

District Leaders Louise Dankberg and Steven Smollens and President Paula Schaeffer (that’s me) are absolutely thrilled and happy to inform you that the Tilden Club is entering its 53rd year of continuous service to the Democratic Party and the Gramercy Park community.

We have had a most successful year as a major force in the election of new City Councilmembers Daniel Garodnick and Rosie Mendez and new Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (our endorsed candidates).
We will also be very much involved in the selection of a Democratic candidate for Steven Sanders’s Assembly seat.

In a word, to coin an old phrase, the reports of our demise have been greatly exaggerated. We are alive and well, and look forward to many more years of dedication to the principles and ideals of the Democratic Party.

Paula Schaeffer
Schaeffer is president, Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club

PEP’s must be peppier

To The Editor:
Re “Yes to Blutreich; no to guns” (letter, by Michael Gottlieb, Nov. 9):

In his letter to the editor, Michael Gottlieb describes himself “As a bicycle rider along the Hudson River bicycle path…” and then writes of his encounter with a PEP officer trying to enforce the no-riding rule.

Apparently Michael Gottlieb is not really a rider along the Hudson River bicycle path, which the powers that be went to great effort and expense to construct so that riders could have an unhindered place to exercise (and complain if people have the temerity to walk on it), but one of an increasing number of riders riding on the Hudson River no-bicycle path, where people are walking, running, pushing strollers, strolling with dogs, taking pictures, chasing kids and generally trying to avoid bicycles.

Exactly what part of “please dismount bicycle” do these people not understand? Is “dismount” too big a word for them? Is it because the signs (conspicuously posted) don’t say “positively”?

He complains the officers are carried away with their own power. I think the opposite is true: They don’t do enough. If they feel up to it, and if they’re not too busy sitting in their carts reading magazines — This actually happened: Me: “Is bike riding permitted here?” PEP: “No.” Me: “Then why didn’t you do something about the guy who just rode past you and almost hit that kid running around?” PEP: “I didn’t see him.” — they will ask a rider to walk. But as no tickets are ever issued for the offense, the offender is back on his bike as soon as the PEP is gone.

And the next day it starts all over again. I imagine these are the same people who ride on sidewalks getting outraged if asked to please use the street instead. I thought the park was supposed to be a place where people could enjoy the outdoors without having to dodge cars or bikes. Kids have their playgrounds, dogs have their runs, bike riders have their own paths.

How about some space for the rest of us?

Stephen Levine

Square of the absurd

To The Editor:
I have a solution to all of the controversies about Washington Square Park. First of all, let’s get rid of that 6-foot, wrought-iron fence that runs all the along the edge of the park. I know it’s rather attractive and we are all used to it, and I know, as some suggest, that it serves to give the park a certain separateness from the tumult of the surrounding streets — but why would you want to block a park user’s clear view of cars and trucks chugging up and down the streets that surround the park? They would even miss seeing all the exhaust from the Fresh Direct delivery trucks.

Second, as long as repairs have to be done, I would move the fountain several feet to the west so that it is no longer aligned with the arch. Frankly, seeing the arch and fountain all lit up from Fifth Ave. in one, perfectly composed line is tacky. The view of the fountain will be so much better off center or, possibly, out of sight altogether.

Finally, in place of that lovely garden with its boring trees and benches on the southwest corner, why don’t we replace them with some small, asphalt hills. We can even give them a cute name, like The Mounds. And every once in a while someone can skateboard on them or maybe when it snows we can all bring out our sleds and really have a ball. Hey, who needs more green grass when we can have gray asphalt?

I would really like to see these changes made as soon as possible. Oh, you say, you are automatically against making changes under any circumstances. I’m sorry I even brought it up.

Marvin Korman

Codrescu was a gas (riot)

To The Editor:
Re “Americans are sheep” (talking point, by Andrei Codrescu, Nov. 9):

Andrei Codrescu’s essay on the nonexistent Gas Riots of 2005 serves as a reminder that in a well-oiled, democratic police state, a cowed citizenry is the cornerstone of the oligarchy’s power base.

Keep ’em frightened; keep ’em confused; keep ’em distracted; keep ’em shopping; and keep ’em voting is the mantra. As the illustrious Nazi Hermann Goering said: “All you have to do is tell them that they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”

To counter the corporate mantra, we could experiment with: Boycott, Boycott, Boycott whatever they are selling us that we don’t need.

Much easier to canonize Rosa Parks than take her action as a guide in our own daily life of overaccommodating to the misbegotten status quo of Shysters, Inc.

Shelly Estrin

Pitiful story of pet fur

To The Editor:
In response to a statement made in the article “Dog owners are loyal to Tompkins Sq.’s First Run” (news article, Nov. 16), that Janette Patterson, the director of PETA, was there to raise awareness about fur and the fact that cat and dog fur is often used without people’s knowledge: I just wanted to say thank you to her for doing so because it is so important to get the word out there on this sad fact. It is amazing people would want to wear dead animals, animals that were drowned, electrocuted, hung and some even skinned alive. To further help in raising awareness, I recommend everyone visit the following Web site to learn about cat and dog fur being used for clothes and what they can do to stop this: www.jcruel.com/catdogfur.asp.
Victoria Booth

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