Volume 75, Number 37 | February 1 - 7, 2006

Letters to the editor

Gerson: Count on fountain access

To The Editor:
Re “Gerson may pull funds if fountain is no-play zone” (news article, Jan. 25):

While my remarks insisting on continued public access to Washington Square fountain were quoted correctly in your article, unfortunately, the context was omitted. My statement about pulling funds if access to the fountain was denied was in response to a hypothetical question. It was not a threat or ultimatum. I stand by those remarks. However, I am confident that it will not come to that, and that the park renovation project will proceed on schedule.

When renovating the fountain, the Parks Department is required to bring the fountain into compliance with current water conservation standards as specified in the New York City building code. There are alternative ways to accomplish this while preserving access. This includes children wading and persons of all ages sitting on the interior steps. I have spoken to Manhattan Borough Parks Commissioner Castro and the department has committed to finding a way to comply with the building code, while still allowing park users to safely enter or be sprinkled by the fountain.

Throughout the past four years I have worked closely, constructively and successfully with the Parks Department on many designs, including Washington Square Park, to accommodate community needs. Therefore, the department has shown its responsiveness in the process and I fully expect that we will find a way to continue fountain access.

Alan Jay Gerson
Gerson is city councilmember for the 1st District

Con Ed rates are tip of iceberg

To The Editor:
Re “Inflation defies Newton: That which rises keeps rising” (talking point, by Daniel Meltzer, Jan. 25):

Daniel Meltzer’s talking point certainly opens the door. My Con Ed bill is 33 percent higher this year than last! To his points I would add the increases in telecommunication rates and public transportation. I won’t even get into the costs of basic health care.

But, just as our president feels that FISA is outdated in the digital age, so too are a variety of standards upon which the health of our economics is evaluated. Owning, operating, maintaining and communicating with a computer is among them. Further, the absence of measurement of these variables is highly discriminatory for anyone struggling to remain in the middle class or to those still trying to achieve that status: Our education, our jobs, our household needs are rapidly more dependent on access to and commerce with computers.

As for employment data, these measurements are notoriously flawed. Until the average measurement differentiates between full time and part time, includes average wage, counts people who have aged out of unemployment insurance and provides some realistic measurement of contracted or temp workers, we aren’t going to have responsible information.
Zella Jones

Better spot for teen lounge

To The Editor:
The Jefferson Market library is small and intensely used by its existing constituency, primarily adults and children. In my opinion, there is a more appropriate site for a teen center, located only a few blocks from Jefferson Market: the Hudson Park Library branch. Hudson Park, which is located in the complex of buildings that includes the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center, already houses many activities for teens, including gyms, a pool and a weight room. Putting a teen center in the Hudson branch would consolidate teen services in one location.

In fact, the Hudson branch is so small, it might be advisable to relocate its adult and children’s services to Jefferson Market, so that the entire space at the Hudson branch could be devoted to serving teens. Special, teen-friendly staff could be assigned to this location.

Let’s use available Jefferson Market funds to make necessary repairs to the exterior of the building. Other sources of funding may be available for teen services at the Hudson branch.

Carol Chave

District manager’s off the mark

To The Editor:
Re “Rootin’ against gluten bar” (Scoopy’s notebook, Jan. 18):

Susan Stetzer, the Community Board 3 district manager, seems to have an odd way of picking her battles. As a decade-plus resident of the East Village, I’ve watched along with the rest of us as the neighborhood has changed. In most ways it has changed for the better — I don’t glamorize or miss the drugs and violence of old — and in some ways for the worse — like the luxury real estate development and its tangential luxury values.

But institutions like the gardens, the squatters, the artists, the small-business owners, the family-oriented sidewalk life (and its many different definitions of “family”) have continued to hold and fight for their ground with a particular East Village flair and keep the East Village alive in the most essential use of the word.
Heathers, on 13th St. between Avenues A and B, is the kind of place that those who really love the East Village should be supporting. It’s a space built by artists, bartended by artists, befriended by its neighbors on the block and owned by an East Village woman who is actively trying to keep the bar out of the run of the mill of drunken, noisy swarms that have been hanging around the East Village for the last two years like mosquitoes at a barbecue.

Heathers is attempting instead to provide an alternative space for local people with a business that seems perfectly at home with the other small businesses on that block of 13th St. Ms. Stetzer and the community board should be encouraging small businesses that meet this kind of community-oriented model. Instead, they are actively fighting to eliminate this small business by removing its commercial zoning. Meanwhile, other commerical bars open up on Avenues A and B with large corporate backing, ubiquitous drink-special chalkboards on the sidewalk, and no interest in the community other than taking our money. In focusing her battles on the low-hanging, vulnerable fruit, Ms. Stetzer is really missing the mark this time.

Debra Travis

The day F.D.R. died

To The Editor:
Re “Sharon swung 180 degrees; so did I to put hope in him” (talking point, by Jerry Tallmer, Jan. 18):

F.D.R. died on April 12, 1945 — not April 11 — a day I remember vividly.

Returning from Midwood High School (where I was on the student council), I turned on the radio to WNEW and DJ William B. Williams, in unusually somber tones, announced that my president had died.

Willie B. was the usually jovial disc jockey and pal of Frank Sinatra who had nicknamed Frankie “Chairman of the Board.”

Well, that was more than 60 years ago, and less memorable presidents have come and gone, and now I’m on the Penn South Co-op Council. Who says people change!

Joan Lang

Romaineshe Rivington

To The Editor:
Re “Rabbis vow to rebuild synagogue after collapse” (news article, Jan. 25):

The First Roumanian-American Congregation thanks all the individuals who gave support to our shul in the recent tragedy that occurred on Rivington St. Thank G-d no one was injured and we were able to rescue our sacred Torah scrolls and Megillahs. Rabbi Yaacov Spiegel was the spiritual leader and rabbi for over 20 years. His legacy continues through his sons, Rabbi Shmuel, Rabbi Gershon and Rabbi Aryeh Spiegel. We are committed to rebuild our synagogue. Their will always be a Romaineshe shul presence on Rabbi Yaacov Spiegel Way (a.k.a. Rivington St.). We particularly thank the city agencies, including the Office of Emergency Management and Fire Department, and Councilmember Alan Gerson and Captain Frank Dwyer of the Police Department.
Joshua Shainberg
Shainberg is vice president, First Roumanian-American Congregation

Cut the Koch!

To The Editor:
Re “Democrats must change tune and denounce Belafonte” (talking point, by Ed Koch, Jan. 25):

Dear Ed Koch, please call up the U.S.O. and go visit the troops in Iraq. Al Franken, who opposes the war, has done this many times. But people like you who say they support the troops never put yourselves in harm’s way like Franken has. As to your frequent right-wing rantings in The Villager, most of its readers could care less what you have to say.

Note to the editor: Koch should be paying The Villager to print his crazy, right-wing columns. Do us a favor, drop him now.

John Penley.

A cat is not a hat

To The Editor:
Re “The cat is the hat” (photo, Jan. 25):

Though walking around outside with your cat on your head, shoulders, etc. may seem like a fun time, as well as picturesque, it actually isn’t a very wise thing to do. The second a loud sound occurs (and there are many of those in New York City) your cat could get spooked and take off. Someone could also snatch your cat and run off if they were so inclined. There is an epidemic in New York City of street cats and a careless act like this could very easily add to it. There is a reason why the term “house cats” was coined, because that is where they belong — inside.
Victoria Booth

Big chill at Village View

To The Editor:
I am sure that you have received many letters regarding the situation here at Village View Housing Corporation. You have been kind enough to publish articles and letters. However, there has been no effect, as it is like “cups on a corpse,” or in Yiddish, “todt vie bankes.”

Perhaps this will create the ripple that we seek. It is 39 degrees this morning, 9 a.m., as I write this, and we have no heat, as we had no heat yesterday. Some weeks ago, also just as cold, I went down to complain and the assistant superintendent raised the heat, which was more than sufficient, within 10 minutes. But, some days later, it was cold again and the heat was turned off.

There has been mismanagement and lack of heat, despite the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s permission to allow a surcharge to be imposed in February. Complaints to H.P.D. go unheeded.

Gentrification has made this once undesired housing very valuable. Sixty percent of our residents are over age 65. We are in the way of privatization that will make many rich, and eventually force many to leave.

Bert Zackim

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