West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 15 | August 15 - 25, 2007

Letters to the editor

Capital offense at Pier 40

To The Editor:
Re “Hudson Park HUAC: Pier plan foes all ‘socialists’” (news article, Aug. 8):

What is the point of making a park along the Hudson River if you have to destroy a historic inland neighborhood to pay for it? It’s not a matter of being pro- or anti-“development,” but of being honest about the cost.

For instance, the Related plan to make money from Pier 40 counted on 7,400 additional visitors per day. Does anyone suppose these arrivals and departures would just skip over our little West Village streets? Let the “pro-development” parties take a look at the traffic on, for instance, Seventh Ave. S. from about 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and tell us it’s O.K. to add another few thousand cars.

Folks who say opposition is “anti-capitalist” live somewhere else. Why are they deciding our fate? And what does Henry Stern know about “business” anyway? Does he know or care that New York City air quality is the worst in the country and that most of the problem is particulate matter from vehicular exhaust? (The American Lung Association says it’s even worse this year than last, and that children, in particular, should not exercise near traffic.)

Is it “anti-capitalist” to point out that proposals for Pier 40 to date have been less than brilliant? Why, for instance, would it be “good business” to build theaters you have to drive to when off-Broadway theaters reachable by mass transit are closing for lack of audience? The churning of restaurants in this area suggests we already have too many. Do they need more competition?

The Hudson River Park was planned to renew a natural resource and provide a park for underparked Lower West Siders. Sacrificing the West Village to pay for it was not part of the plan.

Judy Seigel


Not converted on E. 12th

To The Editor:
Re “New interfaith project inspires faith in N.Y.U.” (editorial, Aug. 1):

You state in the editorial: “Obviously, N.Y.U. has learned something from the dreadful experience of those two large projects” — the Kimmel Center and the new Law School building — and “Now, John Sexton, N.Y.U.’s president, has turned over a new leaf.”

It is disconcerting that the experience of community outrage didn’t seem to affect President Sexton’s thinking in regard to the development of the massive 26-story dormitory — the “megadorm” — on the St. Ann’s site on E. 12th St. Despite community opposition, this dormitory has not only used the community facility bonus, but also the air rights purchased from the Cooper Station Post Office.

Apparently, the “firestorm of angry opposition from the community” regarding the Kimmel Center and the new Law School building didn’t complete President Sexton’s conversion to understanding the concerns of the community and preserving the fabric of the East Village. The “new leaf” seems to be a work in progress and only time will tell. Faith in N.Y.U will be established by deeds not words.

Jean Standish
Standish is a member, Coalition to Save the East Village


Parks to the people!

To The Editor:
Re “Wash. Sq. funds must be pulled, critics cry” (news article, Aug. 1) and “Gerson says withholding park funds is an option” (news article, Aug. 8):

On behalf of the Emergency Coalition Organization to Save Washington Square Park (ECO), plaintiffs in the environmental suit currently pending in State Supreme Court, I am writing to congratulate The Villager for its recent coverage regarding the redesign of our beloved park.

The Parks Department has misrepresented this project from the start. Several years ago, they began showing a PowerPoint presentation to select neighborhood groups. At the same time, they facilitated a task force in conjunction with the then-leadership of Community Board 2, which met for approximately a year without the knowledge of the community at large. In February 2005, Parks finally showed the design to C.B. 2’s Parks Committee. It became clear to many attendees that the intended design would negatively impact those who use the park the most: senior citizens, the disabled, retirees and performers and their spectators, who include residents and visitors from all over the world.

We appreciate the recent efforts of our district leaders, Keen Berger and Brad Hoylman, and the many individuals who comprise the current C.B. 2 membership for perceiving that this design does not meet the needs of the community. Had the public process worked as it should have, our village green would now be repaved, its railings repaired, mature trees fed and restrooms made accessible to all. We also applaud a recent letter sent to Parks by Assemblymember Deborah Glick, State Senator Tom Duane and Congressmember Jerrold Nadler on behalf of the disabled. The letter reiterates what we have been saying all along: The project cannot place the renovation of the restrooms in a “third phase.” Federal law requires they be made accessible at the start not the end of the project.

Parks, in its hubris, initially hid the size of this project and thus avoided state and city laws requiring an environmental impact statement, or E.I.S. ECO exposed this in a procedural lawsuit and it is our hope that the current suit pending in State Supreme Court will compel Parks to adhere to this requirement.

We would also thank members of the current task force for their diligent assessment of what has come to be known as the Quinn-Gerson agreement. How unfortunate that given the task force’s narrow scope, members were still stymied by Parks. It is equally unfortunate that the agreement fails to address the most objectionable aspects of the design — moving the fountain, leveling the plaza, straightening the paths, removing trees and fencing in the park.

Finally, in July 2005, in a meeting with Councilmember Alan Gerson, we were assured that funds would not be released until Parks provided information regarding the cost of repairing the fountain, or moving and repairing it — to confirm or disprove that the difference in cost is negligible. Parks has never complied, and it is laudable that Speaker Christine Quinn’s Aug. 6 letter to Commissioner Adrian Benepe states that if the information is not forthcoming, “we [she and Gerson] would oppose the moving of the fountain.”

I have said all along that Washington Square Park is not a walkway; it is a destination. It is loved for its openness and spontaneity. It is a place to gather. To coin a phrase from the ’60s, “the parks belong to the people” and the people have spoken. We believe in the right to assemble. We do not want a viewing garden. And no, Commissioner Benepe, opponents of this design are not a few aging hippies. They are community members and visitors from all walks of life.

Susan Goren
Goren is a member, ECO Steering Committee


Village’s missing piece

To The Editor:
Re “Mollie Bender, 85, of Gottlieb real estate family” (obituary, Aug. 1):

It was sad to read of the death of Mollie Bender. Your obituary properly acknowledged her important role in Greenwich Village and Meat Market preservation initiatives.

But I was pleased that you mentioned one of the most historic and also most neglected of the properties in the Gottlieb/Bender portfolio — the Northern Dispensary on Waverly Pl.

For the last three years, I and other residents of Waverly Pl. have been trying to raise interest in turning this unique triangular landmark into what we believe is the missing element in the life of Greenwich Village — a permanent History and Visitors Center celebrating the extraordinary contributions of Villagers to the culture of New York, the United States and the world.

For the legions of tourists and out-of-towners who visit New York each year, the Village has always been a powerful attraction. Yet there has never been an educational institution dedicated to public understanding of Village history and life that they can visit. I often encounter puzzled-looking tourists fixated on their guidebooks as they wander on Waverly and other streets, and, as I try to guide them, I think how great it would be if I could say to them, “Just step over there to that triangular building where Edgar Allan Poe was treated for a head cold, and you’ll learn about Greenwich Village history and where to find its landmarks.”

The Greenwich Village History Center could feature a permanent collection of art and artifacts of historic consequence, state-of-the-art interactive exhibits — including architectural models of the Village as it evolved over two centuries, combined with the story of the Village’s ongoing battle for landmark protection — and a small multimedia theater with an introductory H.D. video, as well as feature film screenings, plays, lectures and concerts showcasing the rich body of work by Village residents past and present.

I sincerely hope that, as the Bender family ponders the real estate legacy of William Gottlieb and Mollie Bender, they will give consideration to a project that would be a permanent tribute to the rich history and present spirit of Greenwich Village.

Bayley Silleck


Hookers are horrendous

To The Editor: 
Re “Hookers have been replaced with hubbub and hype” (news article, July 18):

Sounds like Lucas Mann had a hidden agenda when he put on his rose-colored glasses and wrote this article, romanticizing the prostitutes. Perhaps Lucas would also like to have them canonized as saints! 

Residents living in the West Village see without the distortion of those rose-colored glasses; and they see these young prostitutes on a daily basis, morning and night — not just once to write an article. The residents don’t see the docile youths in school teacher-like clothes described by Lucas, but rather see rowdy youths prostituting themselves in suggestive costumes. The residents are bombarded with the boisterous reveling of these youths on the street throughout the night, only to wake up to find used condoms in their doorways.

For many reasons, people are unhappy about what has happened to the Meat Market, but money has won out there (as it usually does). That does not, however, give prostitutes carte blanche to move into residential areas to ply their trade and to carry on with antisocial behaviors. Prostitution is still an illegal activity, and the large number of 311 calls and arrests in the area prove that there are not merely a handful of prostitutes involved, as Lucas suggests!  

Barbara Baluta


Digs Schnabel’s Big Pink

To The Editor:
In the year of the ruler, gray boxes occupied the land, each a twin to its neighbor, square and the color of rain. And lo, there sprang up in the Village, on street eleven, a tall and quirky newcomer, red, with recesses and curls, that delighted the heart and in its upstartish way seemed also to sing. And lo, it came to pass that other boxes also sought to sing, also wished to give delight, and there arose in the land a new time known as the year of quirk and knob.

Miriam Chaikin


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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