Volume 76, Number 38 | February 14 -20, 2007

Letters to the editor

Change is inevitable

To The Editor:
It is perfectly clear that the greatest need of Manhattan residents is the development of more affordable housing. To supply that housing, it is also obvious that more and taller structures must be built.

Yet every week The Villager airs the whines and moans of readers that this or that proposed structure will violate the integrity of a block, a neighborhood or a district.

In the development of Manhattan there were doubtless cries that the destruction of the wall built to keep Indians out was lamentable because it was an integral part of Manhattan’s past. Likewise, there were surely complaints that the filling of the Collect Pond would deprive ducks and community wildlife of a familiar site. Finally, there were almost certainly howls when the canal, now Canal St., was paved over and obliterated.

The point is this: change is as inevitable in Manhattan as crowds, and to fight it by trying to limit the size of buildings is conservatism of a misdirected sort. The “integrity” of E. Ninth St. or of Ninth Ave. in Chelsea is an imaginary concept akin to the belief that landlords favor rent control.

Stewart Benedict


Cyclists gone wild

To The Editor:
The Greenwich Village Block Associations is a communitywide coalition of neighborhood organizations dedicated to preserving and improving the quality of life for residents of our historic neighborhood. For some time, G.V.B.A. has been discussing the growing number of bicycles ridden and stored on our streets and the complications and presumptions that ensue from this increase.

Ironically, what happened to one of our writers, Tom Bernardin, sadly proved our point. He was run down and knocked unconscious on Jan. 10 by a sidewalk cyclist, who left the scene without ascertaining Mr. Bernardin’s condition.

Residents voicing concern about this threat to public safety at Sixth Precinct Community Council meetings are told it is not a police priority. We think it should be one. While G.V.B.A. does not expect the Police Department to send out teams of armed officers expressly to hunt down cyclists who ignore traffic rules, residents are appalled when we see police officers ignore cyclists riding dangerously on city sidewalks, through intersections against the light and/or the wrong way on a street. Indeed, in the lead paragraph of “Congestion Pricing Prophet: Biking Is the New Golf” in the New York Observer of Feb. 5, 2007, Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, brags about running red lights as he requests more amenities for cyclists. Residents even witness a growing number of cyclists nattering obliviously on cell phones as they ride.

At our last meeting, members decided to urge the Police Department to reassess its priorities and to place a higher preference on enforcing traffic regulations on cyclists. They seem to be increasingly arrogant and self-righteous as they carelessly jeopardize themselves and pedestrians, particularly the elderly, who cannot move quickly and are more likely to suffer life-threatening injuries when hit by a bike.

We trust that most cyclists are not hardened criminals. Thus, we believe that regular enforcement of traffic regulations would initiate a speedy decrease in the number of cyclists who ride carelessly and illegally. This is a problem that can be solved. Anecdotal information supports our contention that a hefty fine, vehicle seizure or both discourages a rider from disregarding traffic rules in the future.

While city government agencies consider ways to encourage more bicycles on our streets by providing bike lanes, instituting traffic-congestion fees and the like, better safety for pedestrians must be the first priority. Licensing may be part of the overall solution. As a reasonable start, the police should rigorously enforce traffic regulations and be alert to bicyclists who do not obey the rules.

Marilyn Dorato
Dorato is secretary and presiding officer, Greenwich Village Block Associations


The audacity of Trump

To The Editor:
He is bullying his way into the west edge of Soho. The people of Soho told him outright that they don’t want his 42-story building, but that doesn’t matter to Trump, bully that he is. I read an article where one of his people said this project will change the landscape of Soho. Well, what if the people of Soho don’t want their landscape changed? Who is he to force his will on the people of Soho — all in an effort to satisfy his insatiable ego? Here a Trump, there a Trump, everywhere a Trump! What’s next, Donald — changing the name of New York City to Trump City?

Lorraine Bourie


Seminary surprises

To The Editor:
Re “Board members: Tower commits sin of too much height” (news article, Jan. 31):

It seems odd at best, and possibly deceptive or worse, that the General Theological Seminary is now, after having already submitted its development plans and begun the public approval process, saying, “We are also going to build some affordable housing if you approve our plan.” The seminary currently has no legal way of doing this, and could only create the affordable housing after a separate, later approval, which most observers say it would likely never receive. As someone who advocates for affordable housing in Chelsea, I find it troubling that the seminary would not have included a concrete affordable housing plan as part of its full application from the beginning if, in fact, it truly intended to provide this amenity. Under these circumstances, it seems more like a red herring intended to distract or divide the public with an offer that we would never know would materialize until its luxury high-rise project is approved.

However, even if it were a sure thing, I am not sure that 50,000 square feet of affordable housing as part of a package which includes about 150,000 square feet of luxury housing is really such a benefit to the Chelsea community. The much greater amount of affordable housing will inevitably have the effect of squeezing out existing affordable housing even more quickly than it is being squeezed out now.
 
Andrew Berman



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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