West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 2 | June 13 - 19, 2007

Letters to the Editor

Disturbing reports on park

To The Editor:
Re “Park needs green (cash), says Hudson Park’s prez” (news article, June 6):

I was shocked and surprised to read Hudson River Park Trust President Connie Fishman’s statement regarding the public response to proposals for development of Pier 40: “The only thing I think we’ve heard loud and clear from the community is ‘Ball fields, ball fields.’” While proponents of maintaining the pier’s ball fields did a phenomenal job of getting their message across at the May 3 public hearing and elsewhere, President Fishman was not listening very closely to the more than 1,500 people who turned out, if that was the only message she heard.

Many also expressed concerns shared by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation that the scale, volume and type of development proposed for Pier 40 could overwhelm the park and surrounding neighborhoods, especially the plan by The Related Companies. In fact, according to Related themselves, their current plan is still estimated to draw 2.7 million visitors annually to the pier, and their current program would tend to indicate that many of those visitors would be tourists or traveling from other parts of the Tri-State area, and thus would likely arrive by car.

Traffic is one of the biggest concerns about the Related plan, which makes Related adviser Jay Kriegel’s comments that “this area is not really one of the hot spots for traffic” particularly confounding (“No Little League on barges in revised Pier 40 plan,” news article, June 6). In fact, nearby Houston, Canal and Varick Sts. and the Holland Tunnel entrances are in a near-constant and unsafe snarl of traffic. Surely, developers proposing projects of this scale and impact should have a better sense of the landscape of the communities in which they are seeking to locate.

If Trust President Connie Fishman hasn’t heard these concerns, we should make sure she does. The comment period for the Pier 40 proposals ends June 19, after which the Trust may make a decision about the developer. Comments should be e-mailed to comments@hrpt.state.ny.us.
 Andrew Berman
Berman is executive director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

Fishman’s selective hearing

To The Editor:
Re “Park needs green (cash), says Hudson Park’s prez” (news article, June 6):

If all Connie Fishman of the Hudson River Park Trust hears from the community about Pier 40 is “Save our ball fields,” she is hearing only what she wants to hear. What people are saying is “Save our park and save our neighborhoods.” As a public servant and park leader, it is her job to listen and to care. If she would like to do so, there are thousands of engaged and enraged neighbors who are vociferously opposed to Related’s proposal for Pier 40 and ready to speak out again as they did at the May 3 hearing.

Most of the people who reside in the neighborhoods within the boundaries of Community Board 2 live here because we love it here. We love the heritage and the electric mix of residential and commercial life. Because we love what makes our neighborhood special, we also understand why we are high on every tourist’s list of places not to miss.

But here comes the point that Ms. Fishman seems to be missing: Pier 40 is a park. It is a place of respite for thousands of families. It is a community place we go to play. If Ms. Fishman really believes we will be just as happy playing at an entertainment complex that is attractive mostly to tourists, she has duly attended dozens of community meetings but missed the boat.

We are surrounded by tourists everywhere we go. When we go to the park to play, we want to get away. We want a park experience where we share our joys in the public sphere of our community. We don’t need more congestion, traffic, tourists, stores, shopping and development. What we need is a safe place we can go with our kids to get away from all of that. The future of Pier 40 offers an opportunity to improve the quality of life for all the affected neighborhoods; please save our park and our neighborhoods.
Jill Hanekamp

And hookers and drugs?

To The Editor:
Re “A massive turnout to save field of dreams, prevent pier of fears” (news article, May 9):
Why is it that more than 1,500 people attend a rally on May 3 at P.S. 41 to protest the proposed Pier 40 Performing Arts Center, but nobody seems to have an interest in getting rid of the prostitution and drugs on our streets?

It is extremely disappointing to me to see the amount of time and energy being spent by our community protesting materialistic and aesthetic issues in our neighborhood, while very little is being done to stop the presence of prostitution and drugs on our streets. Instead of spending so much time protesting about billboards and Washington Square Park renovations, let’s come together once and for all and make a dangerous situation go away. As a parent, I pride myself on raising independent children who want to hang out outside with friends. But it pains me to hear their stories of encounters with the flagrant prostitutes inhabiting the streets that our children should feel safe roaming. What will it take for our community and law enforcement to wake up, and spend the same amount of time and energy to clean up our streets?

Please don’t get me wrong: The above issues are important and deserve attention. But if nobody speaks up, the drug dealing and prostitution won’t go away. I’ve given up going to the community board meetings, because the same 20 to 30 people show up and talk about the same issues each month, yet nothing is being done about a real quality of life issue. I have contacted the police about this issue, but hands are unfortunately tied with the current laws.

If the 1,500 people who attended the Pier 40 hearing would get involved in this issue we could get rid of the ongoing, in-our-face prostitution, drug dealing, urinating, etc., if we want to. With that amount of support, we could reconstruct the current laws and remove the prostitution and drugs from our streets once and for all.
Scott Gibson

Police must be restrained

To The Editor:
Re “Bike blitz on E. 6th: Police cut locks and arrest two” (news article, June 6):

Ladies and gentlemen, step right up for Lower Manhattan’s latest feature: “Cops Gone Wild!”

We’ve already been treated to such wonderful features as “We’re spying on your peace-loving neighbors” (“Police spied on many local groups during convention,” The Villager, May 23) and a myriad of other 2004 R.N.C. classics; “We’ve spent more than $1.5 million of your tax dollars chasing bikes around” (countless Villager articles since 2004); and the recent “We don’t care if you’re press, we are here to arrest you” (“News photographer arrested, let go,” The Villager, May 30). 

Now we have the story of Ninth Precinct officers going on a rampage, causing thousands of dollars of damage to private property and arresting two people for simply expressing concern, including a 58-year-old St. Vincent’s nurse. Is the N.Y.P.D. an agency out of control? Is this a concerted effort on the part of N.Y.P.D. leadership to prove a point? 

The perverse irony is that the N.Y.P.D. claims to be responding to complaints from two individuals in the neighborhood regarding crowded sidewalks on the block in question. I would estimate that the surface area of this block is roughly 40 percent car-travel space, 35 percent car-parking space and the remainder sidewalk space. The bikes occupy less than 0.5 percent of the total area, yet those are identified as the impediment to pedestrians?

What if our community took a see-the-forest-for-the-trees approach and noticed that the real problem is that a huge proportion of our space is occupied by private automobiles? I have a solution: remove the parking from one side of the street and convert it to a park, 12 feet wide by one block long. In that park could be accommodated widened sidewalks, trees and plantings, benches for residents to enjoy and space for bikes to be parked out of the way of pedestrians. In fact, it would then be possible to accommodate dozens of vehicles — bikes — for every one vehicle that currently steals space from the pedestrians of the neighborhood.
Ian Dutton

‘Lipstick’ will be a smear

To The Editor:
Re “Split personality, solar power in Soho project” (news brief, May 30):

The architect Anthony Morali’s statement that the proposed design is

“what the neighborhood would like to see” is merely lip service, and certainly not a result of input from neighbors. Several representatives from neighborhood groups, nearby co-op buildings and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation have been attempting for months to arrange a meeting with the developer through the Manhattan Borough President’s Office to address issues of local concern, to no avail.

A “mini-Lipstick Building”? A 10-story knockoff of a Midtown office building hardly fits the context of the area’s mostly four-to-six-story masonry townhouse, tenement and apartment buildings. Not shown in the published rendering — in addition to any of the surrounding buildings that might reveal just how out-of-context this proposed design really is — is the planned parking garage entrance on Sullivan St., currently a lovely, tree-lined, little-traveled section of streetscape. That placement, instead of on Sixth Ave., an already busy thoroughfare where

cars regularly entered and exited the gas station that previously occupied the site, is not at all what the neighborhood would like to see.

Additionally, retail, including a restaurant/bar, is being planned for the ground floor, with the potential to change a quiet and peaceful block into a noisier and more dangerous one.

Soho west of West Broadway is under siege by development, much of it

out of character in size, scale and aesthetics with the existing neighborhood fabric; among these projects are a controversial 42-story condo-hotel on Spring and Varick Sts. and an 11-story residential building on the site of the old Tunnel Garage at Thompson and Broome Sts. that are being fought by neighborhood groups. A proposed historic district for the South Village is intended to preserve the character of the neighborhood in the face of inappropriate development pressures.

The proposed building is anything but a “little Lipstick” — rather, it is a dramatic facelift that will forever alter the beloved countenance of Sullivan St.
Lara Iden

Article out of left field

To The Editor:
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read “Wang strikes out in Chinatown, where baseball is just ‘too slow,’” by Lucas Mann, in your June 6 issue. The article lacked any insight into the real reason why baseball is not a popular sport among the Chinese in Chinatown.

The sports culture is vastly different between Taiwan and China — and I think it’s inappropriate to call Wang a Chinese instead of a Taiwanese, but that’s for another discussion. Baseball is arguably the most popular sport in Taiwan, and the Taiwanese have been playing and excelling in the game since the days of their colonization by the Japanese. However, in mainland China, baseball is similar to how we see cricket here: Not many people play it, follow it or understand it. To assume that baseball should be popular with the Chinese, as the article implied, because there are Taiwanese Major Leaguers, is to assume that South America loves baseball because baseball is popular with some Latin American countries.

Bottom line, Chinese in China — and in Chinatown here — don’t care much for baseball, or Wang, for that matter.

Now, if Mr. Mann had bothered to find a Taiwanese to speak to, it would have been a completely different story, since Chien-Ming Wang and Chin-Feng Chen, the first Taiwanese Major Leaguer, are probably two of the most celebrated athletes, similar to how we celebrated Michael Jordan during his prime here in the States.

Aside from this, there are not three, but four, Taiwanese players who have played in the Majors: Wang; Chen, a former Dodger; Chin-Hui Tsao, of the Rockies and now the Dodgers; and Hong-Chih Kuo, also of the Dodgers.

In a society where most kids think that Taiwan and Thailand are the same country, I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise to see an article like this.
Wayne Chen

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