Volume 75, Number 39 | February 15 -21 2006

Letters to the editor

PEP’s did a real snow job

To The Editor:
I believe that the Park Enforcement Patrol officers in Washington Square Park have their priorities a little mixed up. Today is the big blizzard, and there is over a foot of snow in the park. We have two dogs that love the snow, and while I was certain that I was “breaking the law,” I took a chance in order to snag a little fun in the snow with my girls. It wasn’t very long before I was scolded and lectured by the park patrol about the rules. I didn’t get a ticket, but we noticed that they were out in force and handing out tickets throughout the park. It’s interesting that on an unusual day like today, the Park Enforcement Patrol, whom we hardly, if ever, see, were out ticketing and patrolling the incredible threat of dog owners and families playing in the snow. The norm is that they are nowhere to be seen when the groups of drug dealers are out in force every day of the week, spring, summer, fall and winter. Once again, somebody needs to get their priorities in order.

Mike Shaieb

Home (Depot) improvement

To The Editor:
Re “Home Depot is looking for a home in Hudson Square” (news article, Feb. 1):

In the late ’60s and early ’70s there were over a half-dozen hardware stores and lumberyards in Soho. They were accompanied by a diverse myriad of discount hardware stores on Canal and Warren Sts. Did the threat of a neighborhood Home Depot 30 years in the future drive them out of business? I doubt it.

Did those business owners possess extreme business acumen, or clairvoyance, and collectively decide to get out of business while the getting was good? I think not! They left because someone either bought out their leases or they sold their buildings and then moved on to different and “greener” pastures.

I like the idea of shopping locally, and up to just a few years ago Hudson Square had a local hardware store, Chelsea Hardware on Charlton St. I knew the owners and most of their staff on a first-name basis and could walk back into their stockroom and search for what I needed without a store clerk interfering. They have since relocated and the building was converted to residential apartments. I now trek to my closest “neighborhood” hardware store, Metropolitan Lumber in Soho, to get my supplies. It’s a little further, but no big deal and it’s still somewhat local.

Although there are some that might say the arrival of a “big-box” store in Hudson Square would be detrimental to the neighborhood’s character, I applaud it. Our family has lived on the far side of Charlton St. since 1973 and watched as the neighborhood emerged from a dimly lit, desolate wasteland (this was years before U.P.S. reopened the former Motor Union terminal) to what is now a mushroom farm of newly constructed condos. What next for the neighborhood, a Costco, a Circuit City? Bring ’em on, I say. By the way, we could use a Staples over here also, as well as a huge supermarket. And a Wal-Mart superstore, perhaps?

The days of the “mom-and-pop store” where the owners live in the back room or upstairs, is a quaint and vanishing institution in this section of Manhattan and most other areas of the city, as well. Of course the big-box stores will cause the smaller area stores to shut down. But the reality is that in Hudson Square there are very few small stores, and in fact few stores of any size, to shut down. So what’s the problem?

Those “big boxes” are a lot better for the community than the plethora of red-velvet-roped nightclubs lining Spring St. that lure the “bridge-and-tunnel” late-night crowd. With the addition of increased daylight pedestrian traffic created by the big new stores, other ancillary businesses and services will surely follow.

As Bob Dylan once wrote a long time ago, “… the times they are a’changing.” I say, great! The sooner the better.

Lou Scrima

N.Y.U. buses are an affront

To The Editor:
Re “Preservation push for N.Y.U. second campus outside Village” (news article, Feb. 8):

I live on E. 14th St., and I welcome the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation’s proposal that N.Y.U. consider developing a location outside the Village. I weary of statements like John Beckman’s: “...the essence of a city and a university is to bring people together.” Then why do N.Y.U. students need special buses — one more piece of traffic clogging the streets? If they want to live in the city, and they certainly all seem to live central to N.Y.U.’s “campus,” why aren’t they expected to travel alongside those of us who live here? Plus, if they took mass transit, then they would contribute much-needed revenue to the transit authority, like the locals do. If N.Y.U. developed a location outside the Village, then I could understand the need for their own transport, but not in the present circumstances.

Victoria Keller

Letter better for The Onion

To The Editor:
Re “S.L.A. exec calls out Villager” (letter, by Joshua B. Toas, Feb. 8):

Upon reading Joshua Toas’s astonishing defense of State Liquor Authority practices,we have come to the following conclusion:

A.) Mr. Toas is an imbecile.
B.) Mr. Toas thinks New Yorkers are imbeciles.
C.) Mr. Toas is an inspired satirist applying for a job at The Onion.

One could only hope at the next congregation of purported civic-minded clowns, that issues of The Villager that contain these quotes are readily available.

Pass the whoopee cushion, Mr. Toas. We have some commentary for you.

Robert Weitz

Village View feels the heat

To The Editor:
Re “Big chill at Village View” (letter, by Bert Zackim, Feb 1):

I want to thank you for publishing my letter regarding the lack of heat here in Village View. I would have never believed the publication of my letter would have had any effect; Marty Tessler said it was a useless gesture and I agreed. But, well, why not try? Well, we have had heat six days in a row.

As for the band shell in Tompkins Square Park, let it rest. I learned to bike-ride and roller-skate in the park in the very early 1950s. I have lived here far longer than that time, long before the headbangers, the homeless and the detritus hippies came along. Romanticizing what it was like is most disingenuous, as Tompkins Square Park was then with the band shell, a cesspool of the homeless, lost children, junkies and the refuse of society that congregated in one strange alleged community. To think it was a great wonderful place and time is delusional. It was no such thing.

And now that time is wonderfully gone, replaced by the dubious asset of gentrification, as Village View is now in the sights of the poachers who would reduce affordable housing to the benefit of those who now come here to live, idealizing a past that never existed. I again give you thanks: The Villager is an effective voice for the people.

Bert Zackim

Heathers, the bar, not movie

To The Editor:
Re Debra Travis’s letter “District manager’s off the mark” (Feb. 1):

Ms. Debra Travis, uses “small business” to defend Heathers in her letter. We have absolutely no problems with other “small businesses” in our neighborhood. Does she live anywhere near Heathers? I would like to hear the benefits that Heathers provides to our E. 13th St. community. How many of its patrons does she think are artists or from our neighborhood? We have at least three other bars within 500 feet of Heathers and each seems to have a different unique character. How many bars does she think we will need to spice up our dull-but-quiet 13th St?

When Heathers moved in, we were told we would have to compromise and bear some noise. Well, this “some noise” turns out to be around a level of 58 decibels in some nights, 13 decibels above the allowable limit. Even on those nights when the music level is below the legal limit, the bass sound is such that we cannot even read a book. (Unfortunately, this bass level will not be addressed until a new law kicks into effect in 2007.) The previous illegal bar that occupied the same space from around 2000 to 2003 was able to soundproof the place and most nights it did not bother us much. But when we asked the owner of Heathers to soundproof her place, she basically said she had already done all she could and we just have to live with it. So much for this noble small business attitude. She may love the East Village, as Travis suggested, but she definitely does not love us, her neighbors.

Again, regarding the noble motives of Heathers, as the bar becomes more popular — which seems to be the case, judging by the 15 to 20 people gathering outside the bar on recent nights — does Travis really believe that nonartists will be turned away or that the main motive is not making money?

So, now we have loud music (with an attitude), a large crowd of people gathering outside talking and smoking, while the owner is making all the money. Doesn’t sound all that different from a corporate enterprise, does it? While Heathers is making money, what do we, as part of the community, get in return? Travis should come and visit us some time and enjoy some free music (not to mention the secondhand smoke, which is also free). Oh, no need for her to bring a book.

So, to the contrary of Ms. Travis’s letter, we believe Susan Stetzer is trying to protect our community rather than to punish small business, as Travis claimed. Debra Travis is the one way off the mark.

Wai-Shing Lee

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