Volume 75, Number 30 | December 14 - 20, 2005

Letters to the editor


N.Y.U. births another monster

To The Editor:
Re “Can a 26-story dormitory fit in a ‘fragile ecosystem’?” (news article, Nov. 30):

It seems that no amount of community persuasion, protestation or cajoling can wean New York University from its voracious appetite for expanding into or building oversized, overbulked buildings. Their latest sophistry that the proposed 26-story dormitory building on E. 12th St. would have been equally as high if built for condo apartments or a hotel belies their president’s platitudinous mantra of how N.Y.U. adheres to humanistic values in preserving the Village’s fragile ecosystem — a principle they have yet to put into practice. What caught my eye, however, was the Catholic Church’s deed restriction in the sale banning abortions on the site. On its face, a 26-story building anywhere in this neighborhood is an egregious abortion.

Enough said. Can we find a creative attorney to take this to a higher authority?

Martin Tessler


Eminent dorm domain

To The Editor:
Re “Can a 26-story dormitory fit in a ‘fragile ecosystem’?” (news article, Nov. 30):

Why on earth would N.Y.U. be so obsessed with building dorms around the Village?

Oh, right. It’s a cash cow, as they rip off all their students who have few options since the housing market is obscene.

With that in mind, Mayor Bloomberg should use his love of eminent domain and buy all of N.Y.U.’s dorms and turn them into affordable housing! But the day our obscene mayor does this is the day he doesn’t have to spend $80 million dollars to win people over.

Liam Kirchberger


We’re losing our stores

To The Editor:
I was sad to learn that Strawberry Fields, the popular supermarket at 311 Bleecker St., will not be in our neighborhood forever. The closure of yet another medium-sized business which serves the residents in its immediate neighborhood is a terrible loss for this community where health-food stores, bakeries and other small businesses have all recently lost their leases.

It seems that many businesses like Strawberry Fields lose their leases, not because of their inability to pay, but because their landlords are hoping to get a higher rent from a chain store, an adult establishment, a bar or a momentarily trendy clothing store. Walking through the Village or through other parts of Manhattan, one can see many boarded-up storefronts where successful neighborhood businesses used to be. While nightclubs and chain stores may provide some benefits, the neighborhood has no shortage of them and there is no need to dramatically increase their numbers. When food stores and local service establishments are lost and replaced with businesses that the neighborhood does not need, it decreases the livability of the neighborhood and diminishes our sense of community.

Preserving our neighborhoods means more than downzoning and landmarking. It also means preserving the services and infrastructure that keep our neighborhoods livable and which create a sense of connection. Residents should be able to purchase affordable groceries and receive other essential services without having to go to a distant part of town. Big-box stores and high-end nightclubs cannot serve this essential function.

Owners of commercial property should take some responsibility to see that the neighborhoods in which they own property have a mix of businesses. This will ensure that the Village remains a community where people want to live and where visitors want to be. There’s a billboard off the West Side Highway that says it best, “Capitalism is good, greed is bad.”

Deborah J. Glick
Glick is assemblymember for the 66th District


Shul’s more than just freaks

To The Editor:
Pride of place demands a serious reply to the article “Lower East Side synagogues experiencing a rebirth” (news article, Nov. 16):

I am glad to hear that other synagogues north of Delancey St. on the Lower East Side are also experiencing a growth in attendance. Certainly, this is the case at the Stanton St. Shul, a humble shul that has survived against enormous odds. Established in 1913, but neglected for decades, today our tenement synagogue delights in the enormous changes we continue to experience. Once a sleepy place, the Stanton St. Shul proudly speaks of its more than 100 dues-paying members and its successful fundraising efforts.

With the kind support of our members and good friends we have completed the first phase in a multiphase renovation project generously supported by a matching grant from the state of New York. This summer we replaced a leaky roof, installed new skylights and shored up the rear facade of our historic building making our spiritual home watertight and secure. Now we are planning the modernization of our bais medresh, site of our daily minyan and classes, and before we reach our centennial year we will restore our main sanctuary to its original glory.

Yet, it is really the questionable tone in reference to the Stanton St. Shul and Ms. Tobias Cohen’s words that distressed me most. Characterizing our shul as a freakish assortment of Jews is dishonest and uncharitable. We proudly view our synagogue as a unique amalgam of beloved seniors, families with young children, singles, the devout and the spiritually hungry. As the demographics of the Lower East Side change before our eyes, the Stanton St. Shul looks at all the young, professional, educated people, some who seek an observant environment to grow and others who are uncomfortable with their background but need a community, need help, comfort and spiritual sustenance.

Our shul looks at these changes in our neighborhood as an opportunity, and therein lays our success and growth. We seek congregants who wear “ski hats” and black hats, members who daven in “T-shirts” and Hasidic garb, hair color of all shades and styles.

When we sit down for Kiddush following Shabbos morning davening, we are all as brothers and sisters, similar and diverse as the Jewish people, together sharing food and Shabbos holiness. Come join us and see for yourself.

Jeff Katz
Katz is vice president, Congregation Bnai Jacob Anschei Brzezan (The Stanton St. Shul)


Pols can rein in S.L.A.

To The Editor:
Re: “Column kissed up to politicians” (letter, by Robert Weitz, Dec.7):

The fact is the only way the State Liquor Authority will be forced to adhere to the law is through action by politicians.

In fact, it was a Queens politician, State Senator Frank Padavan, who helped pass the 500-foot rule, which provides communities with the only leverage against unacceptable liquor-licensed operations.

State law controls S.L.A. actions, so efforts by Councilmember Eva Moskowitz and State Senator Tom Duane, a Democrat in a Republican-controlled Senate, can point us in the right direction but cannot be decisive. We will see if creative action by the new Manhattan borough president, Scott Stringer, can get city administration support on environment and police issues related to licensing.

As for the Nightlife Task Force set up by Virginia Fields, the outgoing borough president, it came up with a wide range of good recommendations for which Fields had little sympathy and did virtually nothing to promote.
But it’s important to recognize that only help from supportive politicians — Padavan is a Republican senator in Republican-controlled Senate — will ever force the S.L.A. to create a level playing field.

Ed Gold



One for the archives

To The Editor:
The Progress Report special section (Nov. 30) was really a tour de force. I commend you for the variety and selection of spokespeople, topics and voices. Altogether, it is a truly accurate representation of the Villages you cover. I hope you sent a pallet of Progress Reports to City Hall and at least one to the Municipal Archives.
 
Zella Jones


Smoking ban adds noise

To The Editor:
Re “L.E.S. progress (of some kind) report: New coalition gives hope” (Progress Report article, Nov. 30) and “It’s not happy hour for the bar and club operators” (Progress Report article, Nov. 30):

Reading your opposing columns by Rebecca Moore and David Rabin, I couldn’t help but notice that it seems everyone is angry at Mayor Bloomberg, because he’s screwing everybody, it seems.

For instance, Mayor Bloomberg talks a lot about how noise complaints are the biggest gripe in New York City, yet he conveniently omits the salient point that he almost single-handedly is responsible for the explosion of these complaints, by flooding sidewalks with smokers forced outside because of the poorly designed smoking ban, which upsets both nightclub owners and residents trying to sleep. (For the record, I love the smoking ban but still hate having to pass through a gauntlet of toxins when I walk down the street and I wonder why Bloomberg refuses to punish all the smokers who appear to be allowed to illegally litter with their butts whenever they wish.)

And am I the only person who noticed that the biggest violator of the noise law is our own government? I’d like to see the mayor take a decibel meter into any subway station and see if the brutal train screeches break the law!

Margaret Dodger


Forever a Villager

To The Editor:
Thank you for putting The Villager online. It has been a wonderful way for me to stay in touch with my old neighborhood and all that is going on currently in Greenwich Village.

I was born in 1923 at 127 Greenwich Ave., which makes me an 82-year-old Villager. My parents moved several times, the most recent were 268 Bleecker St. (Suriano Photo Studio was on the ground floor), then to 272-278 Bleecker St.(on the fifth floor, Apt.24, with no elevator!) I went to school at Our Lady of Pompeii, then to Stuyvesant High, then to The Cooper Union School of Engineering for three semesters, but the U.S. Navy transferred me to R.P.I. in Troy, N.Y., in 1942. “My Bleecker St.” was that section between Sixth and Seventh Aves., which I still recall vividly, but which I left in 1946 to work for General Electric’s Aircraft Division in Lynn, Mass. As a youngster, I worked for Lanza’s Pharmacy, which was located at 270 Bleecker St., now the home of Risotto restaurant.

As I read The Villager, I am constantly amazed at the large number of organizations that are trying very hard to govern the present and future of the neighborhood — we just did not have them in my day. Maybe we were too busy earning a living to pay attention to local developments! Your articles on John’s Pizza, Murray’s Cheese Shop, Zito’s Bakery, the Father Demo Square renovation and many more are fascinating. I hope the arguments about how Washington Square Park is going to be reworked come to a peaceful conclusion.

The many Web sites, such as the G.V.S.H.P., the G.V. Block Associations, the Bridge and Tunnel Club and Forgotten New York, allow me to learn more about the Village and New York City than I can recall. Thanks again for a job well done.

Hugo A. Boldi

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