Volume 76, Number 23 | October 25 - 31, 2006

Letters to the editor

More needed on rezoning

To The Editor:
Re “A critical moment for the East Village and Lower East Side” (editorial, Oct. 18):

Thank you to The Villager for its thoughtful editorial and extensive coverage of this issue. This is indeed a critical moment for the East Village and Lower East Side. These neighborhoods are transforming before our eyes, and many of the changes are not to our liking. Enormous towers with no connection to the look, feel or character of the neighborhood are sprouting everywhere — for hotels, dorms and luxury residences. Housing accessible to many longtime residents is disappearing at a rapid rate. Without quick action, we will only see more of the same.

I agree with the editorial’s assertion that the draft plan the city has presented is not perfect, but a good start, and an opportunity. But the city has to come forward with the data and information that Community Board 3 and many in the community have been demanding for months, so we can make informed decisions about the effect these proposals — and alternatives — would have.

The city has been very willing to include in the plan some elements the community has called for: substantial height limits on new construction that don’t currently exist (also blocking most air-rights transfers), an elimination of the current community facility and commercial bulk bonuses (reducing the current incentive for high-rise dorm and hotel construction in the neighborhood) and inclusion of incentives for creating and preserving affordable housing. What the city has been unwilling thus far to move on include greater bulk reductions on side streets; any changes to the horrible zoning for the Third Ave. corridor and blocks to the west; and changes to the rezoning’s affordable housing provisions to either reduce the size of and amount of luxury housing being offered to developers in exchange for creating affordable housing, or to spread it out more evenly and extensively throughout the neighborhood.

The only kind of affordable housing currently on the table involves incentives for developers to create it by allowing them to create more luxury housing, at a rate of four units for every one affordable unit — with no mandatory requirements for affordable housing, and no affordable housing without luxury housing attached.

The reality is that no zoning plan can advance unless the city supports and approves it. At a certain point we must decide how much we can get from the city and whether it is worth it to take what we can get and live to fight another day, or hold out for more and risk getting nothing. With each moment that goes by we get closer to another hugely inappropriate luxury high-rise condo, hotel or dorm in the neighborhood, which it will be too late to stop. The decision is a difficult one, but it is ours to make.

Andrew Berman
Berman is executive director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, and member, Community Board 3 197A Task Force

Who’s getting rich?

To The Editor:
Re “Why help tenants profit?” (letter, by Tom Connor, Sept. 13):

Weeks ago, someone took the time to write to The Villager to express his opinion that we here in Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town are duplicitous to be worried about our homes, that, after all, we were all going to buy our apartments, flip them and get rich quick. 

Now that the property has been sold — and despite rhetoric that it will not be converted — the writer’s point needs to be addressed. Should, down the road, our new landlords chose to convert the property to condominiums or cooperative ownership, quick flippers would have to move to a less accessible part of this island to realize any kind of profit. 

While some people would be willing to do that, most are really looking for a conversion plan that would allow them to maintain their current lifestyle, which is what Dan Garodnick’s plan sought to accomplish

The biggest problem to converting P.C.V./S.T. is that at an average price of $450,000 per apartment, Stuy Town is not as valuable as P.C.V., and every building’s higher floors are more valuable than the lower floors.

People who have been living in their apartments for many, many years may be able to afford an apartment in the complex, but, not necessarily the unit they reside in now, much less get rich quick. To the writer of that letter, I respond by saying that our situation is nothing to be envious of.

Billy Sternberg

Episcopal Church and gays

To The Editor:
Re “Openly gay bishop spreads gospel of inclusion” (news article, Oct. 18):

Thank you for your article on General Theological Seminary in this week’s publication. Having served the Episcopal Church as a parish musician for more than 30 years, I have been witness to the revision of The Book of Common Prayer, the 1982 Hymnal and the newer rite being used by permission of the New York Diocese.

I am currently serving a black parish in East Elmhurst, Queens. The rector is Haitian. And I fail to understand how he can preach the love of God, try to further issues pertaining to African-Americans and yet be so totally anti-gay and anti-women in the kingdom. P.S.: He’s a graduate of G.T.S. I think that, beyond just the L.G.B.T. issues, we need to further our cultural discussions. And I pray this discussion will come sooner rather than later.

The question people have to ask themselves in the case of Gene Robinson is — does one live his truth for the sake of the Gospel or does he live a lie in order to “fit in”? Gene Robinson lives his truth and for it he is being so wrongly persecuted.

And let us never forget that we Episcopalians owe so much to the late Bishop Paul Moore, who had the courage to ordain Ellen Barrett nearly 30 years ago!

Bless you and the truth!

Jennifer A Shepherd

No answers in hit-and-run

To The Editor:
Thanks to Lincoln and Lori for the fine reporting on the death of my son Joshua. Not a day goes by where I am not thinking about his final moments. Still no answers from the New York Police Department or any other authority figures. I have sent letters to the mayor and governor asking for video footage from the Holland Tunnel or anywhere else there may be a camera on that stretch of highway.

Please keep reminding people of this awful tragedy that befell my son. I hope that no one has to go through the pain that we, the family, are enduring.

Several people saw Josh walk into the Employees Only lounge, but not one person sees him leave?

I have also asked the Parks Department to keep up the memorial but they keep taking it down. I am going to be requesting that there be a permanent memorial placed there and I hope to be back in New York to ask City Councilmember Christine Quinn and her staff what steps need to be taken to have this done.

Thanks again to all of you at The Villager. You are truly a first-class bunch of people who care. Keep the word out so the person who did this can be found and convicted.
James David Crouch

‘Gang’ is at least 10

To The Editor:
Re “Westbeth ‘gang of four’” (letter, by Miriam Chaikin, Oct. 18):

In response to Miriam Chaikin’s letter to The Villager, calling the people who oppose the Westbeth Artists Residence Council’s vote for the recycling of household garbage in the park “the gang of four,” may I point out that there are three groups of tenants who oppose this. One is the Westbeth Artists Committee, led by Stewart Brisby, Ed Eichel and Kate Walter; next is the Westbeth Preservation Committee, led by Jessie McNab, John Silver and Marty Lowenstein; third is the Westbeth Artists in Residence, led by Salvador Peter Tomas, Edith Stephen, legal advisor Jesse Kasowitz and myself.

Counting just the leaders of these groups adds up to 10.

Ten is a minyan, an important number required for conducting Jewish public worship; ten is the number needed for group trips to Atlantic City, group rates at hotels and airports, tours of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., and discount tickets for an opera or play.

Ten people should be entitled to express their opinions and disagreements with WARC without being vilified as a “gang of four” in the ongoing saga of Westbeth politics. I look forward to more open dialogue on this important issue.

Jacqui Taylor Basker

Panic at P.S. 137

To The Editor:
I am writing this letter and at this very moment I am very upset. I have had to endure the mess created by Mr. Mariano Guzman, deputy superintendent for Region 9, Ms. Rodriguez, principal of 137, and her entire staff.

We have had quite the struggle on our hands. We fought last year to try and save our building, which housed our P.S. 137 students, only to loose it to the Shuang Wen Academy.

Yet we were confronted with another disappointment from the school early this morning. As I walked my 7-year-old son to school, we were bombarded by parents that were so upset and literally loosing it this morning as we learned there was no power and no lights at P.S.137/P.S. 134.

Was there a plan in place? Absolutely not — as always, no plan. All children who attend both schools, 137 and 134, were being scattered and rerouted across the Lower East Side to other elementary schools. We had no idea where they were taking our children. I am a working mother and cannot afford to be at work worrying where my child is being placed due to the lack of coordination and lies fed to us. In earlier statements and several meetings, Mr. Guzman and Ms. Rodriguez promised and assured us that the school was going to be in tip-top condition, a truly amazing dream school in 100 percent great shape, come September 2006. More lies and deceit from these people. It’s an outrage!

My son is home today. I am at work and crying out for help. He should be in school learning; instead he’s home wondering why was our initial building taken away and given to the Shuang Wen students.

We, the parents at P.S. 137, are in desperate need of someone to expose this situation and take us seriously before things really get out of hand. It’s shameful that these leaders are not looking to help us, the parents, and our beautiful children — who are our future — in this difficult transition. We feel angry, our children feel displaced and we have no one to turn to.

Please help us get this story out.

Maria S. Perez

E-mail letters, not longer than 350 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 145 Sixth Ave., ground floor, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel.

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