West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the editor

Koch: I won’t be silenced 

To The Editor:
Re “The nerve of Koch” (letter, by Marrianne Salerno, Oct. 17):

“How dare Ed Koch speak for all Villagers,” wrote Marianne Salerno in a letter to The Villager condemning me for being a supporter of St. Vincent’s Hospital and its plans to build a new hospital building to replace its existing complex on Seventh Ave. and 12th St. Ms. Salerno wrote, “He has no right” to comment, notwithstanding that I have lived in Greenwich Village for 50 years. Only those like her who live on “the west side of 12th St.” apparently can comment. She errs in her description of 12th St. It has a north and south side.

My having served the Village as its Democratic district leader, first elected in 1963, serving through 1966, then as city councilman from 1967 through 1968, and as member of Congress from 1969 through 1977 and as mayor of New York City from 1978 through 1989, apparently does not, according to Ms. Salerno, qualify me to voice an opinion now as co-chairman of Friends of the New St. Vincent’s.

I am, indeed, a friend of the hospital that provided lifesaving services to my father, Louis Koch, after a heart attack and whose doctors extended his life, and I do support St. Vincent’s upgrading the hospital with a new, state-of-the-art building. I applaud St. Vincent’s ongoing efforts to include the community in its planning. I especially agree with The Villager’s recent editorial (“St. Vincent’s and Rudin are starting the right way,” Oct. 17) stating that “we were impressed by the consideration the architects took in creating numerous aspects of their projects.”

I will not be silenced. The history of the Village is that we all have a right to be heard, including me and Ms. Salerno.
 
Edward I. Koch


Koch misses the point

To The Editor:
“As West Side grows, it’s time for new St. Vincent’s” (talking point, by Ed Koch, Oct. 10):

No one opposes St. Vincent’s modernizing its faciliticies, but the question is, is it entitled to carte blanche regarding its plans to do so? 

What ex-Mayor Koch does not mention in his talking point piece is that St. Vincent’s “modernization” is tied to a deal with the real estate developer, The Rudin Organization.

That deal, first, would allow that developer to raze the St. Vincent’s buildings on the east side of Seventh Ave. and build expensive condos, thereby increasing the building height where the Coleman building is located, and increasing the overall density of the buildings between Sixth and Seventh Aves. The new Seventh Ave. building will dwarf everything around it. 

Second, St. Vincent’s would build a hospital on the west side of Seventh Ave. that would be the size of a 30-story building, thus also towering over the entire West Village.

Third, this scheme would significantly increase the number of residents in the West Village, thus putting a strain on all our resources, especially our schools, which are already overcrowded.

I am a member of St. Vincent’s Community Working Group (which Koch is not), the public forum that is supposed to be a partner in planning the hospital’s new venture, but I have yet to see our group have any significant impact on the present proposal by St. Vincent’s. From my perspective, the Working Group is a sop given to the community to “quiet the natives.”

Furthermore, if the West Side is in such a dire state regarding the availablity of hospital care, surely the institution ulitimately responsible for assuring the delivery of this care is the city, just as it provides fire and police protection. Where is the city in the present equation?

Finally, Koch may, perhaps, really believe that the unique character and energy of the Village will survive the continued increase of high-rise, high-income buildings, but I don’t. Do you?
 
Gary A. Tomei
Tomei is president of the W. 13th St. Block Association


Hospital plan is ‘bogus’

To The Editor:
I am writing to express my deep concern with the recently aired plans to destroy and rebuild the St. Vincent’s Hospital properties.

This St. Vincent’s/Rudin real estate cooperative plan radically alters the character of the Village. “Character” does not refer to the look of the proposed architecture — the issue is not nearly so superficial. “Character” refers instead to our neighborhood’s long-standing commitments to mixed-income living, density and zoning concerns and the preservation of historic properties.

Of these issues, I am most concerned with the first: There is no place here for 400 to 500 units of luxury housing. It is a radical affront to the sensibilities of the Village. Those planners who refer so often to “the needs of the community” are simply projecting their own needs — and those are, frankly, simply economic. It is inexpensive to pay lip service to a community; it is invaluable to actually respect it.

I will do what I can to prevent my Village’s being bulldozed, literally and figuratively, by this bogus solution to the West Side’s need for a modern hospital. I wish the hospital the best in updating and refining its facilities. But let’s not confuse what’s best for “the community” — with what’s best for their bottom line.

Helene Zera


Village’s character is gone

To The Editor:
Re “As West Side grows, it’s time for new St. Vincent’s” (talking point, by Ed Koch, Oct. 10):

Ed Koch states, “…the character of the Village will never change…the people living here give it its unique energy.”

The character is gone forever because the people living here now couldn’t be more different than Big Brown, Crazy Otto, Tuli Kupferberg and Allen Ginsberg, to name a few. They graced us with their wild inspiration daily.

One of the few traces left of the old Village is the Bitter End. Gone are the Nite Owl (Lovin’ Spoonful, Tim Buckley, Magicians) and The Bottom Line (thanks to N.Y.U.). In the ’60s, The Bottom Line was the Square East Theatre where the Second City troupe dazzled us with improvisation. Among them were the brilliant Zohra Lampert, Alan Arkin and Bob Dishy.

Bleecker St. was filled with pushcarts, and you heard Neapolitan and Sicilian all around you. The Aldo Cafe on Sullivan St. played only Bach and Vivaldi on the jukebox.

It was cool.

The only thing that’s better about the Village now is we have more trees.

Joanne Milazzo


Preservation is people, too

To The Editor:
My 5:15 a.m. walk through the West Village to the 14th St. pool brings me joy each morning. I see people on the streets, stopping at the all-night delis, waiting outside Equinox gym, delivering newspapers, breakfasting, running, biking. They are many ethnicities, incomes and ages — even some babies with one parent, while the other, presumably, sleeps. St. Vincent’s has lights on every floor and ambulances waiting. I am grateful it will be there in a few years, with fewer beds and more technology.

But then I remember the public hearing on Oct. 10 that described the construction of a 265-foot-tall tower and 10 townhouses. They spoke of preserving “the spirit of the Village” by constructing 400 to 500 condos for millionaires. As a district leader and community board member, I know that the spirit that needs preservation is in the people, not the facades. Any new residences must be affordable for seniors, families, those with special needs. I will never support a plan that does not recognize the people who live here, now and in the future.

Keen Berger
Berger is female Democratic district leader for the 66th Assembly District, Part A


Herman G. for Hillary C.

To The Editor:
Re “V.I.D. backs John Edwards, citing focus on the poor” (news article, Oct. 17):

Unfortunately, I could not attend the last Village Independent Democrats meeting when Edwards was endorsed. Edwards was a good choice.

However, if I had been at the meeting, I would have voted for Hillary Clinton because of her strong positions on healthcare coverage, affordable housing, education and global warming.

On her early stand on Iraq, she should have clarified her approval of sending troops into Iraq. Iraq was ruled by an undemocratic, ruthless tyrant, Saddam Hussein.

Our troops removed Hussein with the support of the majority of the Iraqi people, support that was demonstrated by the collapse of Hussein’s statue in Baghdad. Hillary should have then demanded that our troops leave, which would allow Iraqis to set up their own government with the help of the U.N.

I know it is now easy to criticize her after the tragic situation in Iraq. Nevertheless, she is best for our country, and it would be good to have a woman as president.

Herman Gerson


Taking a stand on newsstand

To The Editor:
Re “Newsstand’s closure is a sorry story, neighbors say” (news article, June 27):

Joe and Grace Cutri, who ran the Thompson St. newsstand from 1945 through 1973, were my uncle and aunt. I was moved to tears by the fight to reopen this business for the Shaikh brothers. This stand was built through the blood, sweat and tears of Italian immigrants. My relatives were able to fulfill the great American dream.

Unfortunately, today our city is run by insensitive administrators who take the easy way out, pointing to statements in manuals to cover their shortcomings. As a retired businesswoman, I admire their administrative skills, but look with disdain at their insensitivity when it comes to meeting the needs of the people, whether in Manhattan or Staten Island, where I now reside.

In a letter from the Department of Consumer Affairs, I was advised the reason the stand cannot reopen is that the fire escape over it is a fire hazard. Meanwhile, your article states that a Fire Department official met with Councilman Gerson and advised him that the fire escape did not present a hazard. Nothing but bureaucracy and city red tape is keeping this business closed.

The newsstand and the brothers who ran it provided a sense of security to the South Village and New York University community. In my aunt’s and uncle’s time, it was common to have parents of new N.Y.U. students stop by and ask them to keep an eye out for their children. The community’s diversity may have changed, but the sense of security the stand offers has not.

On Nov. 1 between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. a rally will be held by the newsstand. I plan to come to offer my support. I encourage all fair-minded Villagers to stop by.
 
Catherine M. Feeks


Artist is one sick puppy

To The Editor:
“Artist figures it’s all about engaging the public” (news article, Oct. 17):

Nice article on Tom Otterness. I was somewhat dismayed, though, to find no mention of the charming little piece Otterness made in 1977 entitled “Shot Dog Film.” In this delightful creation, Otterness filmed himself shooting a dog he adopted, recording the little creature’s death throes — an act that columnist Gary Indiana called “infantile, sadistic depravity on film.” You would think that, in a full-page article, Ms. Rosenstock would have been able to shoehorn in a wee reference to this highly thoughtful and creative contribution to the aesthetic world, for, the creation of which, I wish this sick, depraved individual, Otterness to rot in hell.

Bob Pomilla


Landlord’s terrific...really

To The Editor:
Re “Construction is a pain in the pocket for merchants” (news article, Oct. 17):

I, Sloan Mandell, was quoted extensively in the article by Matt Townsend.  I thought that the piece addressed all sides of the issue of the massive construction on Orchard St. between Houston and Stanton Sts.

However, the article seemed to incorporate a tone of a personal attack on Morris Platt, and that would be inaccurate and inappropriate.

To the contrary, Mr. Platt has always been a decent man and a fair landlord to us as a storeowner over many years. We are sure that he is as frustrated as we are with the unending construction delays on Orchard St. 

Sloan Mandell
Mandell is director, Exhibitionist Jewelry


Car almost killed me!

To The Editor:
It is 8:30 a.m. on Thurs., Oct. 25. I am writing this on a barely functioning computer, and it’s a miracle I am still alive. I am 75 and live in senior housing at the corner of Fifth St. and Cooper Square. Due to excessive construction, I must cross the street where a 24-year-old Scottish woman recently was killed by a speeding car.

I got to Cooper Square and Astor Pl. and stepped off the curb, when a maroon car shot past me, inches away, turning the corner at 50 miles an hour, at least. It was pouring and I was wearing a poncho and, yes, pedestrians always are at fault. I should have stopped to check for speeding cars coming from the east.

Manhattan has become a killing field for pedestrians. Nothing on wheels is bound to any laws. In small towns I must reduce my speed to 25 miles an hour. In New York City, it’s pedal to the metal. And our dear mayor praises this town as a tourist mecca.

Marianne Landre Goldscheider


Don’t forget Doris

To The Editor:
Re “City blocks St. Mark’s restaurant, siding with tenants” (news article, Oct. 24):

Thank you to The Villager for publishing this article. Victories against the (Oheb) Shalom family are rare and this article is a welcome boost to tenants of buildings owned by the Shaloms and landlords like them.

We were sorry to see no mention of zoning expert Doris Diether. Ms. Diether has been involved as a consultant since conversion problems in the building began in 2003. Her expert advice before the Board of Standards and Appeals was invaluable. Thank you, Doris!

I believe the B.S.A. took into consideration the overwhelming outcry of the community against a proposed commercial overlay on St. Mark’s Pl., as well as the decisive vote against the amended zoning by Community Board 3. Also, once spaces are converted into retail, the conversion into restaurants and then bars is much simpler. In fact, in summer 2003, the Shaloms rented the cellar space to a restaurant owner who submitted an application to C.B. 3 for a liquor license. Such conversions have contributed to the proliferation of bars on the block.

Susi Schropp
Schropp is a member, 8 St. Mark’s Place Tenants Association


LEFTist case just isn’t right

To The Editor:
Re “Slain hip-hopper’s dad, friends rap police efforts” (news article, Sept. 19):

On Sept. 18, 2007, my family and I paid another visit to New York. This trip was to pay tribute to our dear son, brother and most loyal friend to all who know him, Joshua David Crouch a.k.a. LEFTist.

I must thank first and foremost the employees at The Villager for your continued support in keeping everyone updated on the murder of Josh. I would also like to thank Brooke Dubose at Transportation Alternatives for her compassion and commitment to stand with us and all of the families of victims who have been run down in the West Village and New York, in general. Without the help of the entities mentioned, I, as a father, would have no support.

I have asked Brooke and T.A. to plan an annual walk not just to remember Joshua, but all of the innocent victims that continue to be struck down, and, in our case, left to die on the streets.

I recently contacted a Manhattan attorney to help me file a suit against the New York Police Department for its incompetence and lack of investigating Josh’s death further. When I told the attorney the N.Y.P.D. had closed the case, he asked me: “Was your son a drug user and were drugs found in his system?” and “Was your son gay?” I answered No to both. He told me police normally do not investigate deaths of “these types of individuals”!

Joshua was found without any identification and was classified the next day in the New York Post as a 30-year-old homeless man. It’s a good thing Josh wasn’t a homeless, gay, drug addict, because he may have just been dumped into the river and forgotten about altogether. With the help from The Villager, Josh will not be forgotten and I will keep this “noncase” going until I find out where the coverup is and exactly what happened to my son. I am not going away.

Jimmy Crouch



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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