Volume 76, Number 51 | May 16 -22, 2007

Letters to the editor

Sexton has no idea on park?

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. president wants less conflict, more conversation” (news article, May 2):

The May 2 front-page report on The Villager’s editorial staff meeting with New York University president John Sexton provides significant insight into where we may expect N.Y.U. to take the Village over the near and distant future.

The planning process described by Dr. Sexton can be a positive development and holds great promise for a new N.Y.U. and community initiative.

If, in fact, Dr. Sexton has “absolutely no idea” about a leveled plaza and other elements proposed for the Washington Square redesign, I hope he will now inform himself of the plans and of the community’s deep concern about the proposed plans. N.Y.U. does celebrate images of the park in its promotional literature and seems to embrace the park as the core open space of their campus.

It would be a wonderful act of good faith and a show of support for their community for N.Y.U. to engage in the current dialogue on the renovation plans for the park. Nearly 90 percent of the community opposes the proposed plans. The university should be willing, as a good and influential neighbor, to confront the “very deft city administration” and take a position that aligns with its community, instead of always being a somewhat disengaged adversary. 
Norman Rosenfeld
Rosenfeld was a member of the architects committee that designed the 1970 community-led renovation of Washington Square Park.

‘Pot calls kettle black’

To The Editor: 
Re “Board 2 demands Wash. Sq. design presentation, or else” (news article, May 25):

Community Board 2 Chairperson Maria Derr voted against Keen Berger’s resolution to rescind the board’s approval of the Department of Parks’ redesign of Washington Square Park because she found the resolution “threatening” and “punitive.” This sounds like a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

At numerous board meetings over the past two years, I observed that each time the Parks redesign of Washington Square came up, Ms. Derr limited the number of individuals speaking on the issue to only a few on each side, despite the scores appearing against the plan, and the very small number in favor of it. And in the face of applause for those speaking against the plan, she admonished those clapping and warned that further outbursts would result in removal from the audience. In fact, on one occasion, at a meeting in N.Y.U.’s Vanderbilt Hall, two uniformed police officers were present, apparently at Ms. Derr’s request.

Fast-forward to the March and April board meetings held this year, where hot-button issues were N.Y.U.’s co-generation plant and plans for a cross-town bicycle lane. Chairperson Derr permitted countless speakers on these matters and said nothing in the face of spontaneous applause. Is this because she has suddenly realized that the purpose of the public session is to afford everyone the chance to air his or her opinion? I hardly think so. Rather, I dare say it shows that she only stifles debate when she personally disagrees with the community’s position on a particular issue.

I can only hope, as do undoubtedly many other C.B. 2 residents, that Ms. Derr’s successor will bear in mind the following words by Voltaire: “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” 

Vicki Puluso

Attack on pedicabs is pitiful

To The Editor: 
I was surprised your most recent issues did not report extensively on recent legislation passed by the New York City Council limiting the number of pedicabs. This action is bad news for those who support a cleaner environment, free enterprise and transportation alternatives.

Pedicabs are public transportation powered by people, not polluting fossil fuels. They represent a pure free-market service with no government subsidy. Consumers are afforded another mode of choice versus walking, taking a bus, taxi, subway or driving. The excuse that pedicabs contribute to traffic congestion is absurd. The several hundred pedicabs operating in the city are outnumbered by thousands of other vehicles, including taxis, limousines, FedEx trucks, UPS, delivery trucks and automobiles, that take up far more space.

Pedicabs provide a great form of exercise and gainful employment for their drivers. These people are our neighbors and pay taxes just like you and I. Consumers, including tourists, continue to patronize this service on a voluntary basis. 

Everyone should read the next Campaign Finance Board filings by New York City councilmembers. It will be interesting to see if there was any political quid pro quo for those who voted to limit pedicabs and by fortunate coincidence received campaign contributions from the taxi industry. Doesn’t the New York City Council have more important issues to deal with than putting a small group of brave entrepreneurs out of business?
Larry Penner

Taking a risk for art

To The Editor:
Re “Art vendors say police get picture all wrong” (news article, March 28):

Thank you for your article on artists selling their original art on West Broadway and their rights according to the First Amendment. I am coming to New York from Puerto Rico with my artwork. I would love to show the public my art for a least one day — and, of course, to sell.

Do you really think it is advisable?

Ivelisse Pabon de Landron

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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