Volume 76, Number 45 | April 4 - 10, 2007

Letters to the editor

Don’t kill San Gennaro

To The Editor:
Re “Critics: Fughedabout Gennaro feast” (news article, March 28): 

I was saddened to read the article in The Villager regarding the possibility of the San Gennaro Festa being cancelled for the first time in its amazing 80-year life. Although it is very disappointing that no one from the feast’s organization showed up for the hearing, please keep in mind that these people are trying to also run businesses and are trying to continue living with their families in an area of the city that has been swallowed up by the Chinatown community.

Plus, there should be consideration of the fact that the area has been bought up by many rich New Yorkers who have no clue about the history of the feast or the religious importance of it to all of us Italian-Americans and non-Italians who know the story of Saint Gennaro. The feast is a joyous occasion, so it will be energetic, loud, crowded, fun and, most important, sacred.

As a proud, Italian-American, native New Yorker and the recording secretary board member for the Centennial Lodge of the Sons of Italy, I plead with Community Board 2 to weigh the economic and social impact the end of this special feast would have on all of New York. I hope to gather some of our members to attend the hearing on April 17 to have our voices heard.

Gennaro Pecchia


Discredits credit union

To The Editor:
I have been a member of the Lower East Side People’s Credit Union since it was founded. In the beginning, the credit union was an alternative to capitalist banks and offered services to the Lower East Side poor that were unavailable at other banks. For example, savings earned interest and there were no monthly service charges.

Now, the credit union offers no interest, and if your savings balance is under a certain amount, the union takes a fee every month. Now, the poor, who have less money and need it more, lose their money to the credit union every month, earn no interest and are no longer helped by the credit union.

Like everything else in the Lower East Side, now, the “People’s” Credit Union no longer is an asset to the poor. Its mission now is profit before people. Just like everything else in the neighborhood, it is not helping the poor — it is driving us out.

John Penley


Park fight still kicking

To The Editor:
Re “Court sinks fountain case, says Wash. Sq. renovation can start” (news article, Feb. 14):

Despite your reference to the Appellate Division’s “nearly fatal blow” overturning Justice Emily Jane Goodman’s Supreme Court ruling, the “renovation” of Washington Square Park is by no means a foregone conclusion.

The city’s “renovation” is actually a full-scale radical redesign of the entire park that will alter its historical role as a gathering place for free speech and spontaneous performance. If this were a “renovation” there would not be continued widespread community opposition in the form of multiple petitions and surveys, large-scale attendance at community and city agency meetings and multiple lawsuits that remain pending against the Parks Department for failing to conduct the proper environmental review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act and City Environmental Quality Review before approving the plan.

Commissioners Benepe and Castro have repeatedly said that installing a high fence around the park, reducing the size of the fountain plaza, removing approximately 32 healthy trees in the first phase of the three-phase plan alone and aligning the fountain with the arch will not alter the nature of the park or impact our constitutional rights. They also repeatedly deny plans for a conservancy, even though documents acquired from their own department discuss plans for a conservancy.

Moreover on Sun., March 11, a police officer was in Washington Square Park interrupting spontaneous performers, with a copy of park regulations in hand. It is extremely telling that, in front of these writers, he was speaking with individuals who were doing exactly what they have done in the park on and off for more than 30 years.

In fact, the present Washington Square Park design works. And while the city’s refusal to grant permits in Sheeps Meadow is being challenged in court, Washington Square Park’s role is crucial as a gathering place.

Parks has also insisted that the changes will have no environmental impact. However, bulldozing and leveling the entire park will endanger wildlife and its habitat, and destroy the mature trees that provide the natural canopy that protects park users from heat and the sun’s rays.

Finally, due to our lawsuit (ECO v. City of New York, Index No. 07-102194), no construction will occur in Washington Square Park without at least a 50-day notice.

Susan Goren
Edy Selman
Goren and Selman are steering committee members, The Emergency Coalition Organization to Save Washington Square Park (ECO)


The day the music died

To The Editor:
Sadly, the Lower East Side is losing another longtime, experimental music club — the last one, basically — Tonic, on Norfolk St. No doubt, all the upscale, not-interested-in-counter-culture bars and restaurants opening up, plus the luxury sterile Blue building rising over Tonic, contributed to it not being able to survive in this modern-day commercial-rent nightmare that is New York City. 

When Tonic leaves, we have officially lost the last venue for truly experimental music — once so respected and legendary on the Lower East Side — from below Houston St. and from the city, so that people can have more Buffalo wing places. 

Rebecca Moore
Moore is a member, Ludlow Orchard Community Coalition, or L.O.C.O.


Seniors fear hotel horrors

To The Editor: 
Re “Super-luxe hotel is being erected on Cooper Square” (news article, March 7):

The building that I live in is a stone’s throw from the site of the hotel on Cooper Square at Fifth St. It is home to many seniors and people of all ages who are disabled and wheelchair bound — all of whom need to live in peaceful, safe and quiet surroundings. This hotel will create a tremendous amount of noise, increased traffic congestion, increased pollution, an enormous potential for pedestrian accidents and disruption of emergency services.

The bars in the hotel will draw many more people into an area that is already crowded because of the existing bars. This community is subjected to an invasion of drinkers every weekend. The hotel will draw a huge number of cabs and limos into the area. Bear in mind that Fifth St. is a narrow street with cars parked on both sides. So, when an ambulance or fire truck is called to our building, a person’s life could be saved or lost in a matter of minutes, depending on these emergency vehicles’ access to our building. The potential for catastrophe is so great, it’s frightening! 

It’s disturbing to realize that none of the aforementioned factors were taken into consideration by any of the city agencies and private groups that knew about and were involved in Peck Moss’s plans to build a hotel here. The community should have been informed before the first shovel hit the ground — but it wasn’t! Was an environmental impact study made? I doubt it. The very air was bought and paid for.

All this was done secretively with the quiet power of money. Our community was informed of this by the sound of drills, jackhammers, cranes, whistles blowing and God knows what else. Our only recourse now is to turn to our local representatives to ask for their help. We at the JASA senior citizens’ building urge the elimination of the excesses in Peck Moss’s building plans that will destroy our quality of life.

Trudy Freeman


Billboards as free speech

To The Editor:
Re “McNally vows to boycott hotel till billboards come down” (news article, Feb. 28 ):

The protests against the Hotel Gansevoort constructing two outdoor billboards is bad news for those supporting free enterprise and free speech. The Hotel Gansevoort’s owners already have to go head to head against the Municipal Art Society, local community board, politicians — like so-called liberal Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer — and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, who all want to increase regulations on outdoor advertising. Perhaps all have forgotten about the Bill of Rights and First Amendment.

If you don’t like the ad, don’t buy the product. Advertisers will get the message. If you are against the Hotel Gansevoort constructing these billboards, ask your out-of-town guests to stay at another hotel. How ironic that those who would defend public display of artwork that some might consider pornographic are so quick to censor outdoor advertisers.

What constitutes illegal versus informative advertising should be in the eye of the beholder, not Big Brother!

Larry Penner


Calling former V.I.D.’ers

To The Editor:
The Village Independent Democrats is currently trying to reach former members and supporters in preparation for our 50th anniversary celebration, to be held on the evening of May 10. Ed Gold’s memoir (“V.I.D., the club that toppled Tammany, turns 50,” news article, Feb. 14) was a wonderful spur to our efforts.

His remarks remind us that today’s battles may seem new, but they have been fought before, and that disagreement and discord are happily inherent in the democratic process. We are looking forward to our get-together and thank you for the entertaining piece of political history.

Kathy Jacobson
Jacobson is a member, V.I.D. Archives Committee


Diplomats drag us down

To The Editor:
Re “Anne Frank as posthumous scapegoat and immigrant” (talking point, by Andrei Codrescu, March 14):

How poignantly Andrei Codrescu makes the case about prioritizing national and human identity. For the greater part of our history, we Americans have been first human beings called by our Judeo-Christian ethics to be compassionate, and then Americans. We thus demanded that our national power be used to serve the common good, “oppose evil and injustice in the world” and to show compassion to those abused by others or defeated by our own forces.

This confuses most other people, as they do not identify themselves nationally by a culture of laws and ethics, but rather by race, color, religion or national origin. There are those among us who do this, too, and they constantly demand that the rest of us descend to the international community’s level of conduct.

That these people are concentrated in our own diplomatic corps is a deplorable happenstance of inherited wealth and academic hubris. They represent us poorly to the world and that is also unfortunate, for I believe that what makes America special is we Americans, and what makes Americans special is our belief that we are here to serve a higher purpose under God and within our laws.

Kenneth R. Bosley



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