Volume 76, Number 53 | May 30 - June 5, 2007

Letters to the editor

N.Y.U. top dog can help

To The Editor:
Re “Dogging it” (Scoopy’s Notebook, May 2):

I was delighted to read John Sexton’s quote in The Villager about how, as the new owner of a small dog, Legs, a Havanese, he’s been converted on the Washington Square Park small-dog run: “I now see the wisdom,” he said. “I don’t know who it was that created that small-dog run — I haven’t used it, but I intend to use it!”

Dr. Sexton, I am wondering if you might help, now that you understand.

The Robin Kovary run for small dogs was my idea. The gravity of not having a separate area for small dogs in Washington Square Park was highlighted when a terrified little dog, shivering with fear at her owner’s feet, was being told by her owner to “go play.” It turned out the pup had just recovered from surgery from an attack by a big dog. I immediately began organizing and asked Aubrey Lees for help. It was Aubrey’s smarts and chutzpah that won us the run.

During the past 35 years, Downtown dog owners have lost many areas that they had used.

To put this in perspective: the Tompkins Square dog run has 20,000 square feet with a separate area for small dogs. The Washington Square run is just 5,400 square feet with a separate 700-square-foot area for small dogs. The Leroy St. dog run is even smaller at 2,400 square feet, with no separate area for small dogs.

Insufficient space creates safety problems. The death of a dog at the Washington Square run was caused simply by a collision with a larger dog.

Dog owners are the largest single user group in our parks in all seasons and weather.

Here is how you can help:

Please ask Governor Spitzer for a sufficiently sized, safe run with a separate area for small dogs in each segment of the Hudson River Park.

Please speak to Parks Commissioner Benepe about enlarging the run for small dogs in Washington Square Park. On nice days, there is a waiting line to get in!

Would you also please speak with Council Speaker Christine Quinn? Not only has Quinn not stepped up to get a run for small dogs in the Hudson River Park, she has voted against pet owners on each amendment to the “no-pet” clause for renters. This causes many dog owners the heartbreak of choosing between their pet and their home and many people will be forced to live alone in their old age.

Dr. Sexton, please consider helping us any way you can. I wish you a long and happy time with Legs.

Lynn Pacifico


Rezone the Bowery, too

To The Editor:
On June 18, the Community Board 3 197 Task Force will meet, but rezoning to save the Bowery is not on the agenda.

What will it take to get Community Board 3 to see that the Bowery is being overdeveloped with the same speed and rapaciousness as the Lower East Side south of Houston St.? Both areas are currently commercial zones (C6) and both are being overrun with hotels. But the Bowery is doubly threatened — it’s closer to N.Y.U., the dorm-building goliath.

What’s worse, when the Department of City Planning has finished its current rezoning of the East Village and Lower East Side, all the developers, unable to build in those neighborhoods, will be buying up the Bowery lickety-split, if they haven’t done so already. The rezoning of the Lower East Side will spell the end of the Bowery as we know it. Meanwhile, the community board is working on a rezoning plan for Third and Fourth Aves.

Concerned neighbors here have already surveyed the entire Bowery for height, density and building type. We have the data; we’ve told the community board that we have the data. What’s the excuse for further delay?

Rob Hollander


Time for cyclists to sue

To The Editor:
A lawsuit is needed to challenge the manner in which urban and other roadways are being rendered into high-speed highways and therefore unsafe and virtually unusable, especially for those who prefer or must usehuman-scale and human-powered forms of transportation, such as bicycles and wheelchairs.

Is this a civil rights issue, with children and poor people and the disabled as the most visible victims?

Is prejudice against human-powered and human-scale transportation a human-rights issue?

Is the criminal conspiracy, engineered by Standard Oil and General Motors, and its 400 secret holding companies, which demolished our rail systems beginning in the 1930s, still in place? Are those who corruptly serve these interests guilty of breaking the law?

Recent anti-pedicab legislation provides a clear example of these forces at work. The ban on travel on bridges and in bike lanes, the ban on tiny electric-assist motors, the shrinking of the fleet was all done in spite of urgent environmental and transportation priorities and without anysensible rationale.

Can the challenge to this legislation also carry forth claims regarding the lax enforcement of laws, the “making” of laws by the police and the effect of criminalization of protest and decriminalization of thedangerous behavior of the operators of out-of-urban-scale, inherently hazardous, even toxic machines? Governor Jon Corzine said his 91-mile-per-hour vehicle was “moving with traffic” on a road with a speed limit only two-thirds that fast. Meanwhile, our mayor has shown an unusual willingness to take on previously sacrosanct automotive interests.

If nine out of 10 potential cyclists say they can never use these streets, or suggest that their children cannot, because of the streets’ unsuitability, they are being deprived of the advantages of this life-supporting and -enhancing activity in a manner that, at the least, offends our senses of fairness and equity, as well as damaging health and safety. It is time to find out if the courts will support thecontention that it is also in contravention of our legal statutes.

It is well past time to make our access to our own space the front-burner issue it is and blow away that toxic cloud of secondhand exhaust in our cities.

Current laws and policies ban wheelchairs from roads and wheelchair users from using their vehicles out of doors at all if they want the government to pay for them. Can we bring these obscenities to an end?

Steve Stollman


Checked out library story

To The Editor:
Re “A new chapter starts for Soho as branch library finally opens” (news story, May 23):

Just curious: I see your front-page story about the new Mulberry St. Library doesn’t mention anything about a zoning variance for the building that it occupies. When I was going to neighborhood meetings 10 years ago, when I lived on Mulberry St., the building’s owner was trying to get a variance to buildan extra story on top, and negotiations were in progress to get space for a new branch library in exchange for community support for the variance.

I saw that the extra story was added to the building some time ago, so I just wonder, was there a quid pro quo, after all? Also, the original plan was for a specialty “arts” library. I gather from your story that the display of artworks by local artists is as far as this idea went, which is fine with me.

The more libraries the better, in my book. I just wonder if there is more to the story.

Katy Morgan

Editor’s note: The library’s Lower Level Two features a community room for library events and use by neighborhood groups.


Article was good as Gold

To The Editor:
Re “V.I.D. celebrates 50 years of progressive politics” (news article, May 16):

On behalf of the Village Independent Democrats, I want to thank The Villager and Ed Gold for the wonderful article and photo on our 50th anniversary celebration. Ed, you are a great writer, and The Villager has been lucky to have your services for so many years. Thanks also to Fran Baskin and her hardworking anniversary committee, to current V.I.D. officers and members and our hard-working district leaders, Keen Berger and Brad Hoylman.

V.I.D. has fought for many years to preserve the Village and its quality of life, to assist tenants, to encourage citizen participation in the electoral process, to elect progressive public officials and to speak out and demonstrate on important issues, such as war and peace, civil rights, women’s and gay rights, affordable housing, trustworthy voting systems and out-of-scale local development projects.

We were delighted that so many former V.I.D. leaders and activists were present at the celebration and were able to renew old ties. We stand in awe of their dedication and continuing activism and hope we can match them in the next 50 years.

Katharine B. Wolpe
Wolpe is president, Village Independent Democrats


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