Volume 75, Number 45 | March 29 -April 04 2006

Letters to the editor

Why N.Y.U. must grow elsewhere

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. may be looking to add to Third Ave. dormitory row” (news article, March 22):

New York University’s conducting negotiations for land and new development on Third Ave. while telling the public that they are not yet ready to talk about their long-range plans is disturbing to say the least. And it points to exactly the reason why N.Y.U. and the city need to find a location for a campus for N.Y.U. outside of the Village.

Whether or not N.Y.U.’s long-promised “long-range plan” or real dialogue with the community over planning issues ever materializes will not change certain basic facts. Lacking a real campus in the Village, N.Y.U. can only grow by buying up and developing more sites in our community. And they will never be able to say when they will be able to do this, because they will, as always, seize upon available properties when they can. Over the years, N.Y.U. has always insisted that they had just one or two more developments planned to meet their immediate needs and would then stay within their then current parameters. This has been the university’s standard line through decades of ever-increasing growth.

The only way that we will ever be able to be assured that N.Y.U.’s growth does not continue to consume more and more of our neighborhood is if the university has an additional outlet for that growth outside of our communities. N.Y.U. and the city must find a way to move some of the university’s schools to a new location so its growth can be channeled elsewhere.

Nearly every community group in the Village, East Village, Noho and Soho, along with Community Boards 2 and 3, have endorsed this proposal. Borough President Scott Stringer and Councilmember Rosie Mendez have already spoken out strongly in favor of pursuing this possibility, and have lent support to the effort.

It is time for N.Y.U. and the city to also join in supporting a rational plan that would serve our neighborhoods, the city and, ultimately, N.Y.U. best, and look for a second campus location for N.Y.U. outside of the Village.

Andrew Berman
Berman is executive director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

Starbucks clarificationnuccino

To The Editor:
I am writing to clarify a number of points in the news brief entitled “I.W.W. grinds out Starbucks victory” in the March 15 issue of The Villager.

First and most important, the informal settlement that Starbucks entered into with the National Labor Relations Board provided that Starbucks has not admitted any wrongdoing or liability.

Second, Starbucks agreed to the informal settlement to allow our partners (employees) to continue to serve our customers without distractions, not in response to supposed I.W.W.-driven consumer boycotts of Starbucks in Manhattan and the Village. I.W.W. activity and charges to the N.L.R.B. were instigated by a few partners from one store in Manhattan. There are no unionized Starbucks stores anywhere in the United States. In fact, the night before there was to be a vote on one New York City store’s efforts to unionize in July 2004, the I.W.W. withdrew their petition and no vote was held. We believe the I.W.W. lacked the support of our partners.

Third, as you report, under the settlement, Starbucks will provide offers of re-employment to two former partners (employees). However, these partners were not fired for union-organizing activities, as your article contends. Starbucks does not take action or retaliate against partners who might be interested in or take part in union activity. Partners are terminated (or given lesser discipline) only after careful consideration of many performance factors and consistent application of company policies and procedures governing employment.

Starbucks ensures that our stores bring value to their communities by offering flexible and progressive work environments to partners and an environment in which all partners and customers are treated with respect and dignity. New Yorkers have embraced with enthusiasm our coffee and our values since we entered the New York market 15 years ago.  

Audrey Lincoff
Lincoff is vice president for global media relations, Starbucks Coffee Company  

W.V.H. plan isn’t long term

To The Editor:
Re “Co-op owners won’t ‘cash out’ ” (letter, March 22):

My name is Jerry Ribeiro and I am a tenant and shareholder at the West Village Houses. The letter you received from Suzanne Stout, my downstairs neighbor, misses the point in many aspects.

The conversion was marred by secrecy and purges by the tenants association board of directors. Suzanne’s husband, John Stout, is and was a member of board. At one point seven out of 13 members of the board resigned.

I will focus this letter on the question of affordable housing. While it’s true that I, as a purchaser, will not move anytime soon, even for a profit, the premise of this deal as announced by Mayor Bloomberg in 2004 was to preserve affordable housing in New York.

The deal the W.V.H. Tenants Association struck with Andrew Farkas does not accomplish that at all. We purchased the complex but allowed Mr. Farkas to keep the unsold apartments. At a minimum, as it stands right now, this amounts to at least 100 apartments; there are 10 empty apartments as of today and 63 that can be sold at market right away. (See Page 20 of third amendment for prices at http://www.farwestvillage.org.)

The West Village Houses were under the J-51 tax-abatement program and were likely to be rent stabilized for the duration of the residents’ tenancy. As is the case at Independence Plaza, we also never received notification of the J-51 status of our complex.

The West Village Houses deal allowed Mr. Farkas to get out of his J-51 predicament, sell us 75 percent of the complex for full price and keep an estimated $50 million in equity over the next 12 years.

There are provisions in the offering plan that allow for market-rate and income exemptions to buy or sell an apartment.

This arrangement does not provide for long-term affordable housing in the West Village Houses. At best it provides for a gradual phase out of affordable housing over the next 12 years. There is much, much more to this deal than us tenants being able to stay in the West Village for a long time.
Jerry Ribeiro

Good riddance Cooper Square

To The Editor:
It was the suggestion of Paul Hellunds, another co-oper, that prompts me to write this letter of update of the events here at Village View. Early last Monday or Tusesday, the rumor went about that the reviled Cooper Square had resigned from managing Village View. Since we were not officially notified of the event, it was only a rumor, but, it was was verified by one of the co-opers asking them if it were so. It is so. Rumor has it the board has asked them to resign, we do not know if this is true. Cooper Square might have stepped back on their own volition.

We are gleefully rid of them, the rotten parasites. As of Sunday evening, we have not be notified of any of these changes. So much for the responsibility of the board to the co-operative.

Bert Zackim

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