West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 17 | Sept. 26 - Oct. 2, 2007

Letters to the Editor

Distortion of the facts

To The Editor:
It was most baffling that The Villager would publish the talking point “Washington Square’s ‘radical redesign’ was in ’69” (by Gil Horowitz, Sept. 5).

One expects better editorial acumen than to publish a column filled with significant errors of fact and chronology, as well as innuendo. Until now, The Villager has presented accurate, comprehensive and balanced reporting on the Washington Square Park renovation issues. But Mr. Horowitz distorted well-known and often-reported facts.

I will not attempt to correct all his inaccuracies, but simply call to the attention of your readers that the 1970 renovation was not a “never-well-conceived 1969 Nichols redesign of the park.” Robert Nichols, a landscape architect and longtime Village resident, was retained by Community Board 2 and its designated committee of four Village architects, which included the New York University architect and this writer, plus two community representatives (Ruth Wittenberg and Tony D’Apolito), all of whom were Village residents and park users for more than 40 years.

Mr. Nichols served as the committee’s professional interpreter, with ongoing presentations to and guidance from the community board over a two-year period, including weekly committee meetings and monthly presentations. The design was developed against specific guidelines — prepared by the board with broad and significant community participation — and served as the criteria for the design, which was carefully followed and has served the Village well since then.

I should note that Mr. Horowitz seems to have forgotten that Fifth Ave. buses at that time terminated and turned around in the park. One of the criteria was to increase greenery by reducing parking and preventing buses from continuing through the park to what is now LaGuardia Pl. — the latter being a concept of Robert Moses and then-Parks Commissioner Newbold Morris.

I do hope others whose names have been invoked by Mr. Horowitz do correct the record. I should note that almost 40 years later, I believe the planning did get it right. The park is well used, enjoyed by many and desperately needs rejuvenation, restoration and loving by our city — now.
Norman Rosenfeld

A taste of what’s coming

To The Editor:
Re “Community Board 2 puts Chinatown on the menu” (news article, Sept. 12): 

Thank you for the excellent coverage of Community Board 2’s first-ever Chinatown Committee meeting.

Brad Hoylman, the board’s recently elected chairperson, conceived of the idea for the committee in the hope of bridging a longstanding disconnect between C.B. 2 and Chinatown. (The portion of Chinatown west of the Bowery and north of Canal St. is part of C.B. 2.)

Thus far, the response to our committee has far exceeded any of our expectations. More than a dozen organizations in Chinatown were represented at our first meeting, including the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, whose president Eric Ng — the unofficial mayor of Chinatown — generously stayed till the end of the proceedings. We also heard from several community leaders from Little Italy, who share many of the same concerns given the blurred boundary line between the two neighborhoods. We are grateful to all who attended for their insights and recommendations.

Much of the discussion centered on the impact of development and gentrification in Chinatown and its potential to change the historic role the community has played as a first stop for recent immigrants. Others spoke of quality of life concerns common to communities throughout the city. From a lack of “truly affordable” housing to traffic congestion and pollution along Canal St. to the proliferation of bars and restaurants, as indicated by a recent newspaper headline calling Chinatown “Clubland East,” the issues are undeniably vast and often seem intractable.

With this in mind, Brad appointed to the Chinatown Committee chairpersons and vice chairpersons of five other C.B. 2 committees to ensure that Chinatown’s interests would be heard across the board, so to speak. In addition, we are also looking into ways of working with Community Boards 1 and 3, which also represent segments of Chinatown. Thankfully, we have already received tremendous support from our elected officials, most especially Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Councilmember Alan Gerson, whose district encompasses Chinatown.

All of this is to say that we greatly appreciate the support our committee has received from the community and look forward to working with it in the coming days. 
James Solomon and Ed Ma
Solomon is chairperson and Ma is vice chairperson, Community Board 2 Chinatown Committee

Built ‘All Craft good’

To The Editor:
Re “Andrea Selkirk, 60: Kept the neighborhood in good repair” (obituary, Sept. 19):

Andrea learned her trade at All Craft on St. Mark’s Pl. After classroom graduation, she learned and then taught construction business skills in the Mothers & Daughters Construction Co., a subsidiary of All Craft Foundation — all on St. Mark’s Pl. (Construction training for women at All Craft started in 1976.)

Andrea was a wonderful person who helped women with children to support leave welfare for employment after learning the building-trade skills.
Reverend Joyce Hartwell
Hartwell is founder, All Craft Center

Class size: A big problem

To The Editor:
It is simply unacceptable that this late in the year, there are still more than 4,000 classes that violate the United Federation of Teachers class-size limits — limits that New York State’s highest court said were already far too large to provide our students with an adequate education.

This means that literally tens of thousands of our kids are trying to learn and remain engaged in classrooms of 35 students or more — where they often don’t have enough room to sit down and there aren’t enough books to go around.

Every year the Department of Education goes through this waiting game before they place enough teachers in classes, waiting for the “registers to settle down,” as they put it, which means they are waiting for students to drop out.

This process simply doesn’t happen in any suburban school district in the state, and shows D.O.E.’s chronic unconcern about the fate of our children.

This year, these violations are especially outrageous given the fact that there is a state law that requires D.O.E. to reduce class size in all grades — a law they continue to ignore.
Leonie Haimson
Haimson is executive director, Class Size Matters

Let the leafleting proceed

To The Editor:
Our block association applauds the Union Square Community Coalition’s board of directors’ recent decision to support leafleting the public last Thursday evening at Harvest in the Square, the event sponsored by the Union Square Partnership business improvement district.

We support alerting the public more fully about the insistence of the Partnership and its business partners to hold rehabilitation of the children’s playground hostage to privatization of the pavilion as a commercial restaurant and to obstruct the historic north plaza rally space with trees and plantings.

We applaud the decision of U.S.C.C.’s board to urge our elected officials not to support Harvest in the Square and not participate until the BID cooperates with the needs and goals of the local community. We support U.S.C.C.’s hope that elected officials would not provide photo opportunities for the BID to use asindications of support in pressing its privatization plans.

We continue to support improving the pavilion in a manner similar to the pavilion at Columbus Park, which was a far, far more economical public project than the rapidly escalating privatization plans promoted by the BID.

And we applaud the editorials in The Villager this year supporting the public’s positions.
Stanley Bulbach
Bulbach is president, W. 15th St. 200 Block Association

Obama! Obama!

To The Editor:
“Why Barack Obama makes sense to me, a lot of sense” (talking point, by Arthur Z. Schwartz, Sept. 12):
Please convey to Mr. Schwartz our gratitude for helping spread the good news of which those of us in Illinois have been aware for a while now. Obama!
Steven N. Zaris

Smoothie leaves bitter taste

To The Editor:
Regarding the carriage horse that died two weeks ago, many others and I would love to see the carriage horses banned from the city. It is a long-corrupt industry with its cash-only business greasing many palms in local government. In the meantime, the horses are treated like garbage, even a recent city audit by the comptroller agrees. The interaction of animals with increasing traffic has been devastating to the horses.

Enough already! The Coalition to Ban Horse-drawn Carriages is trying to get as many people to sign its petition as possible. The petition can be found at http://www.all-creatures.org/bhdc/.
K.C. Bailey

Cobblestone revival

To The Editor:
We are happy to announce the restoration of the historic cobblestones on Greene St. at Washington Pl. Our years of work — saving them from the asphalt, making phone calls, sending letters, making sure the project never dropped off the list — paid off. Do come and see the last remaining cobblestoned street in the heart of Greenwich Village and how fabulous it looks!
 Noreen T. Shipman and Mary Johnson
Shipman and Johnson are members, Washington Place Block Association

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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