Volume 76, Number 2 | May 31 - June 6 2006

Letters to the editor

It’s looking up for Downeast

To The Editor:
Re “Downeast Arts Center feeling down, and will be out” (news article, May 17):

Thanks in no small part to the recent investigative report about Downeast Arts Center, we were just offered the possibility of returning to the current site in 2007. There will still be a gut renovation of nearly a year’s time and we may be just touring in the meantime, but we do get to come back. If we can find interim space to continue our services to the Lower East Side community (or even storage space), it’s ideal, but there’s no guarantee of that. In any event, we’re just happy to return to our own digs in the future. Thanks so much to your newspaper and reporter David Freedlander for the great work!
 
Melba LaRose
La Rose is executive director, NY Artists Unlimited


There were no threats

To The Editor:
Re “Old P.S. 64 owner sues city; wants $100 million” (news article, May 24):

For the record, no one has ever threatened Housing Works with regard to any potential use of old P.S. 64. In fact, CHARAS’s founders, Armando Perez and Chino Garcia, were longstanding supporters of Housing Works when some folks did not want us in the neighborhood because of who we serve. We have reciprocated in our support for CHARAS and for the landmarking of the former school building, all in the interest of preserving a neighborhood of which we are a part.

Both former Councilmember Margarita Lopez and current Councilmember Rosie Mendez have been strong supporters of Housing Works and the cause of homeless people living with H.I.V. and AIDS. We support them in their efforts to have the old P.S. 64 returned to local community use.

Charles King
King is president, Housing Works, Inc.


Let there be a dorm

To The Editor:
Re “East Village turns out to save its ‘heart and soul’ ” (news article, May 17):

At the recent Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing, there was great emotion, but very little reality. It seems that a footprint is more important in the minds of those who came to testify, than real-life considerations and true community improvements.

Saving the facade of the old P.S. 64 is easy and all you really need to do if you want to preserve memories. Getting over $60 million in funding for the community is more than just a little bit harder. The developer has a proposal which will do exactly that! If you added together all of the money that every elected official in the community could, or would, ever contribute, it doesn’t come close! And what exactly will those politicians try to extract from you in return for their meager monetary contributions to local programs?

The dormitory is a win-win-win situation for all concerned. For the first time in the history of the Lower East Side, legitimate groups, along with some of the not-so-legitimate politicians, will have private funds to use in the betterment and advancement of the Lower East Side, administered by a board, from the community itself. Your tax dollars can be better spent elsewhere, or even added in, if the politicians choose to do so, to further promote and implement many worthwhile community programs.

The building has stood empty for many years now; CHARAS/El Bohio has moved to Harlem and the local groups are faring well, without using the rooms at the old dilapidated school. If F.D.R. and Yip Harburg, along with a host of others, deserve to be remembered, so be it. I am sure that a large bronze plaque attached to the facade will do more for helping to see that their memories will remain prominently and permanently in evidence for all who pass the new structure. Just having them in your minds alone, does not pass the historic information on to the next generation. Sightseers and visitors read plaques and take pictures, just as you do on your trips.

The facade and a plaque will do it better. My best advice to the community, the politicians, the residents and all other groups concerned is: Let there be a dorm with space for community use as well. All of us will sleep better at night and the memories will still be there for everyone to see.
 
Allen Bortnick


No excuse for Singer’s folly

To The Editor:
Re “Old P.S. 64 owner sues city; wants $100 million” (news article, May 24):

Responsible developers are successful developers because they develop properties that communities need and want. Rapacious developers exploit property for short-term gain at the long-term expense of the communities surrounding their property. Mr. Singer’s development proposals for the old P.S. 64 property would do nothing to enhance the neighborhood. Rather, his proposals would add highly transient dorm tenants to an already overbuilt neighborhood. This is not going to preserve the neighborhood value or property values of the people who now live in that community.

Suing the government because no one is interested in supporting such folly does not make Mr. Singer’s proposals any more attractive as a business venture. It certainly will not make his proposals more attractive as community-service ventures.

Successful developers consider these issues before purchasing property, in the context of analyzing potential markets and uses for the building. Successful developers in free-market economies do not expect government officials to force potential consumers to buy that which they find unpalatable.

As a New York City taxpayer, I am appalled that Mr. Singer is now attempting to gouge the city through pursuit of a ridiculous lawsuit. It’s not the taxpayers’ fault that Mr. Singer did not make a sound business decision when purchasing the property, nor is it the fault of government, nor elected officials.

Sheri Clemons


‘D-Rod’ hits wrong note

To The Editor:
I wanted to send my appreciation to Clive for the article “Chelsea Opera snags singing officer” (arts article, May 24):

I have been an ardent supporter of Mr. Rodriguez for many years and will be traveling from the Midwest to attend his debut on June 7 with the Chelsea Opera company.

I do, however, have one thing I would like to mention: the use of “D-Rod” in place of Mr. Rodriguez’s name. I know this is not a common appellation, in fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in any previous media article, and I have read all of them. I’m not sure how Daniel feels about it, but to the reader, in many cases, I would think it seems a bit disrespectful. I only write this in hope that you might understand and perhaps in the future, consider using his full correct name.

Bonnie Beiseker


Two hopeful events

To The Editor:
In the spirit of community dialogue, I’d like to share two recent public events that have inspired my hopes for the possibility of a better America. Knowing that (as Michael Moore and others have noted) our corporate-controlled media seeks to keep the public in a state of fear with a constant bombardment of bad news, you wouldn’t learn about these hopeful events watching ABC, Fox or CNN.

The first was participating in the annual Roving Garden Party, a wondrous celebration of local community green spaces on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Assembling at Tompkins Square Park, we were led by Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping — along with the activist group Time’s Up! Among the joyful parade of nature lovers were people dressed like their favorite garden flower or bug. We sang and danced in the streets on a glorious spring day (some even blew kazoos), all for the cause of celebrating — and protecting — these healing oasis of nature in the city. Because some of these green spaces are under attack by greedy developers, activists gave pep talks along the garden tour. They also circulated petitions, and informed activists about upcoming public meetings considering the fate of the parks.

Hopefully our actions will reverberate — like the butterfly that flaps its wings in Brazil and changes weather patterns in North America — with a federal government that has shown little sensitivity, care or concern with protecting the earth’s natural treasures. Let’s hope they get the message during this week’s conference in Washington, D.C., of the Network of Spiritual Progressives — a new group started by philosopher Michael Lerner to counter the political religious right. A central component of N.S.P.’s agenda is to implement a new “bottom line” in America that seeks to expand love, caring, generosity, ethical sensitivity, ecological responsibility and a sense of awe and wonder at the beauty and grandeur of the natural world. Do I hear any objections?

The other hopeful event was a public dialogue with the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu, held at N.Y.U.’s King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center. Rigoberta, who had most of her family wiped out by the brutal military government in Guatemala, went on to become a leading activist speaking courageously against the oppression of indigenous people. Hearing Rigoberta speak, I was impressed with her calm articulation. Unlike many of our current leaders, she spoke in rich, complex sentences filled with meaningful detail. In startling contrast to our alienated, corporate sponsored, sound-bite-driven media and political culture, she made her points by telling real human stories — stories warmed by the presence of a loving heart.

John Bredin
Bredin is a member, Village Independent Democrats executive board


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