Volume 76, Number 44 | March 28 - April 3, 2007

Letters to the editor

N.Y.U. zero growth option

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. commits to creating a master plan for its growth” (news article, March 7):

It is disheartening to read comments from Alicia Hurley, New York University associate vice president for government and community affairs, regarding the N.Y.U. master plan: “This is a plan for 30 years. We’re not going to say that we’re not going to grow over 30 years — even a normal amount. It’s not realistic”

Be alert. The 800-pound gorilla has spoken!

The meticulous description of the content of the request for qualifications, or R.F.Q., sent to 50 top architecture and planning firms and the 12-month “iterative process,” working with the community and “listening tour” all seem very inclusive. But is this yet another process that will wear down volunteer community members, who will attend endless meetings by highly paid university staff and planners, whose plans always seem to prevail?

The proposition going in that there will be “a normal amount of growth” is an unacceptable premise. Why does N.Y.U. need to grow beyond 19,400 undergraduate students? Why do they need to provide housing for retired faculty at the expense of Village community residents — few of whom, if any, have such benefit? Why not postulate realistic goals for a university located in the heart of a landlocked, landmarked community?

As a Village resident for more than 45 years and formerly a Community Board 2 member for 14 years, I have personally experienced N.Y.U.’s actions in many town-and-gown real estate issues. This is yet another wakeup call for Village residents who lost their battle against the construction of the Bobst Library and more recently the Kimmel Center — both of which cast deep shadows on the south side of Washington Square Park — and the N.Y.U. Law School expansion. Will the co-generation plant and other as-yet-unknown “normal amount of growth” add other intrusive projects to this list?

Has the university addressed the premise that bigger may not be better and considered adding a “no growth” option to its master plan R.F.Q.? Its unique Greenwich Village campus certainly contributes to the university’s desirability and flourishing success. If they continue to expand, are they in danger of killing the proverbial “goose”?

Greenwich Village is not Chapel Hill!

Norman Rosenfeld

Little Britain? Balderdash!

To The Editor:
Re “Rule Britannia! English merchants push for new district” (news article, March 21):

“Little Britain” is one of the most misguided ideas to come along in awhile. The area described by its proponents may have a few Brits, but also includes businesses owned or run by Belgians, Italians, Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, Greeks and assorted Middle Easterners, Caribbean Islanders and Southeast Asians. And how can an area that includes both Greenwich Ave. and Greenwich St. “lessen the confusion” between the two?

Businesses come and go. When I lived above what is now Perry and Kavanagh-Dowsett’s Tea & Sympathy a few years ago, the block contained a butcher, a shoe-repair shop, a dry cleaner and several antique dealers.

“The West Village” tells it like it is. Leave it alone.

Miriam Sarzin

Captured horrific events

To The Editor:
Re “Village auxiliary officer pair made the ultimate sacrifice” and “Four lives end in Greenwich Village on tragic night” (news articles, March 21):

Lincoln Anderson’s coverage of the auxiliary police officers/West Village tragedy was superlative. I have read much about the event (Times, News, Post), but it was Mr. Anderson’s detailed narrative, in your publication, that really captured this very sad, but still dramatic occurrence. His “old school” description of the harrowing series of confrontations truly captured the rawness of “the moment,” as if it were a series of Weegee photographs. The follow-up human interest article, exploring the lives of the victims, their relatives, as well as that of the perpetrator and his associates, put the event in sobering perspective.
Eric Frier

Letter and the law

To The Editor:
Re “Trump hotel is for real” (letter, by Julius R. Schwarz, March 21):

I was amused to read Bayrock/Sapir spokesman Julius Schwarz’s letter to the editor trying to explain how the planned Trump Soho Condo-Hotel, in which his company will be a partner, will not violate the law.

Schwarz, Trump and company have been engaging in some pretty impressive verbal acrobatics in their effort to convince anyone that their development — where individuals will own their units and get to stay in them for long periods of time — is not a residence or a residential hotel, which is prohibited under the law at this location.

In his letter, Schwarz tries to blame “unauthorized” others for spreading the word that this development will, in fact, be used as residences. What he does not mention is that he himself was previously quoted in The Villager describing the development as more “pied-a-terre” than short-stay hotel, and saying that every unit will be sold to buyers who might live there year-round, from time to time or seasonally, which would clearly violate the zoning restrictions against residences or residential hotels at this location. 

Nor does Schwarz mention that as recently as three weeks ago, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation caught Bayrock advertising the units in this planned development as “living spaces” on their Web site, and found an ad in New York magazine for the development that referred to the units as “residences” that owners can “opt” to rent out when they are away — in direct contradiction of what Mr. Schwarz’s letter said and what the law allows.

It’s not surprising that Schwarz and Trump are trying to do an end run around the law, since they will profit mightily from it, even at our neighborhood’s expense. What is surprising is that some city officials seem willing to twist logic and buy the developers’ claim that individuals can own their units in this development, and live in them for at least three to five months a year, but that it is still not really a residence or a residential hotel. It sounds kind of like believing someone who claims to be “just a little bit pregnant.”

Virtually no one buys this argument. That’s why about a dozen elected officials, five different community boards and scores of business and community groups from across the city have asked city officials not to issue building permits for this development. Were the city to do the right thing in this case and tell Trump and Schwarz that their project violates the zoning, the developers would be forced to seek a zoning change if they wanted to continue with their condo-hotel plans.

Through the public process of a zoning change — in which everyone gets a say, environmental reviews are conducted, and elected and appointed officials get to vote on the final outcome — the project could be blocked, approved or modified to address community concerns. Instead, if the city does let Bayrock/Sapir and Trump move ahead with their sham development, zoning protections for many of our neighborhoods will be undermined. This type of high-rise, luxury development will be allowed for the first time ever in areas where it was previously prohibited, without any of the public review or approval such major changes in land use are supposed to require.
Andrew Berman
Berman is executive director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

It’s condos, not a hotel

To The Editor:
Re “Trump hotel is for real” (letter, by Julius R. Schwarz, March 21):

Of Mr. Schwarz’s letter, one can only say this:

If it’s built to be a condo, advertised as a condo and sold as a condo — it’s a condo. It’s not a duck, it’s not in Soho and it’s not a hotel.

It’s time for Trump to stop selling his name for a buck while ruining neighborhoods, and time for the politicians to get off the fence and let the emperor know that he’s naked.

Donald Clark MacPherson
MacPherson is director, Soho Arts Council, Inc.

Dog runs get their due

To The Editor:
First, I would like to thank you for your article “Leroy run crowded and unsafe, small-dog owners howl” (March 21) and your continued coverage of dog-owner issues in our neighborhoods.

This article was a watershed event for our group and highlighted the many concerns we have currently and for the future.

A few corrections:

We are not advocating returning the FieldTurfed ball field at J.J. Walker at Hudson and Clarkson Sts. to dog-owner use. We do think that the water tunnel site just to the south would, however, be an ideal area. It is currently up in the air what will happen to that space, although one group is advocating for another practice soccer field there, like the field on the roof of Pier 40.

The Parks Department required Tompkins Square run to raise roughly $60,000, not the $150,000 that was stated. That is the final cost of their renovation, of which Parks is footing two-thirds of the bill.

Again, thank you for your coverage. We will be hosting a dog-owner town hall meeting sometime this spring with the Manhattan borough president, Scott Stringer, and several other elected officials, as well as several dog-owner advocates and experts. We will be discussing issues facing not only the Village, but Chelsea, Tribeca and Soho, as well.

Tod Wohlfarth
Wohlfarth is president, Friends of Leroy Dog Run, and board member, NYCdog.

P.R. state of confusion

To The Editor:
Re “Velazquez tries to solve Puerto Rico status limbo” (news article, March 14):

In the article about the political status of Puerto Rico, Congressmember Velazquez and former Councilmember Lopez both emphasized that the decision whether to become a state must be entirely up to the Puerto Ricans themselves. That is so not true. The residents of a territory or commonwealth do not decide whether they are going to become a state; the people of the existing states, through their representatives, decide whether they want to admit another state to the union. In other words, we, the non-Puerto Rican majority, have the right to decide, not them.

And neither Velazquez, Lopez nor your reporter raised the obvious question of why non-Puerto Rican congressmembers and senators would even be interested in, much less excited about, statehood for Puerto Rico — for example, Republican Senator Larry Craig of Idaho, where there are probably not two Puerto Ricans in his entire state — plus the fact that Puerto Rico would be very unlikely to vote Republican. I think the age-old rule of “follow the money” would be very appropriate here. Who will benefit from this?
Jefferson Chase

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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