West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 23 | November. 07 -,13 2007

Letters to the editor

Impact will be historic

To The Editor:
I write to express my concerns about the recently announced plans by St. Vincent’s Hospital and the Rudin family to demolish and redevelop eight sites in the Greenwich Village Historic District.

I am very concerned about the size and height of the new proposed hospital building. At more than 300 feet in height and nearly a half million square feet, this would be by far the largest building built since the designation of the Greenwich Village Historic District and one of the tallest ever in all of Greenwich Village. 

I am very concerned about the size and height of the proposed new apartment block on the east side of Seventh Ave. Both buildings will be substantially bigger and taller than St. Vincent’s Coleman building, a substantially out-of-context building already.

I am very concerned that the plan includes demolition of every one of the hospital’s current buildings, including those which are as much as 85 years old.  Historic districts are supposed to protect all but the newest or most out-of-context or architecturally undistinguished buildings from demolition, which is not the case for several of the hospital’s buildings. Those buildings could easily be preserved and reused. 

While I am glad that St. Vincent’s has said they will work with the community to create a more appropriate and useable green space on the “triangle” site (bounded by Greenwich and Seventh Aves. and 12th St.), I believe it is imperative that the hospital commit to a definite plan for the renovation of this site with the community before it goes through the approval process for the remainder of the plan.

Laurie Graff

St. Vincent’s emergency

To The Editor:
Who is paying attention to the infrastructure necessary to accommodate an additional 500 luxury apartments on the Rudin site of the St. Vincent’s development? The public schools in Downtown Manhattan are already maxed out. The Chelsea Day School has had to move uptown to find adequate space. And there is an increasing number of applicants to independent schools for a fixed number of spots.

City Hall appears to support new construction in Manhattan, but they are not dealing with the attendant overcrowding in both public and private schools.

I fully support a state-of-the-art hospital as a necessary part of our community. But I am equally sure that we cannot shuttle our children through overcrowded classrooms and expect them to be successful and involved members of this community.

It is imperative that the size of these developments be limited, and that the issue of infrastructure be addressed now.

Naomi Usher

Seravalli dog-run drama

To The Editor:
Re “Hamlet has a dilemma at Seravalli Playground” (news article, Oct. 31):

Seravalli has been a de facto dog run for years because dog owners in the Far West Village have nowhere else to go. We must walk a mile or more at present to find the nearest public run. Formally setting aside 10 percent of the park — without displacing the basketball courts or children’s playground — would alleviate our problem while making better use of the often-underused park and creating a safer space for children and teens.

A sequestered run will prevent the sort of toddler-canine accident alluded to in the story, while the constant presence of adult dog owners will deter drug users from hanging out in the park. Indeed, while Mr. Kropoth interviewed Hamlet and myself, three men smoked pot a few benches away; it seems odd that he didn’t mention this in the article. Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe has himself said, “The daily presence of dog owners during early morning and late evening hours...has made parks safer.”

And while we know they mean well, those who would like us to seek space along the West Side Highway instead of continuing to play at Seravalli have never sat at the Leroy or West 22nd St. runs in the winter. Another remote run along the waterfront would be cold comfort, particularly for elderly dog owners.

We believe Seravalli can be a model of shared space and goals. We want a park the entire neighborhood can play in together.

Mark Leydorf
Leydorf is a member, Hudson St. Dog Run Committee

Pampered politicians

To The Editor:
“V.I.D. backs John Edwards citing focus on the poor” (news article, Oct. 17) was disappointing news. Perhaps some Village Independent Democrats missed some of Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Edwards’s $400 haircuts, along with fellow Democrat Senator Hillary Clinton’s infamous $2,000 visits to her favorite Washington, D.C., hair salon. 

Both Senators Edwards and Clinton are politically correct liberal birds of a feather who flock together. They claim to be friends of ordinary working- and middle-class Americans. But while they talk the talk, they don’t walk the walk.  Edwards and Clinton offer expensive style, but no substance. Both spend like millionaires on personal pampering. They own multimillion-dollar homes in elite suburbs and live a lifestyle that average citizens can only dream about. 

Both have raised millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the usual crowd of lobbyists, trial lawyers, Hollywood celebrities and special-interest, pay-for-play crowds. All of these players are investing their campaign contributions looking for future White House access and favors, such as favorable legislation, friendly tax code changes and regulations, along with funding of pet programs all in their areas of interest at taxpayers’ expense. 

What was that tired old refrain about the Democratic Party being the friend of the little people and those nasty, greedy, old Republicans being a party of the wealthy big-bucks fat cats? In reality, both Clinton and Edwards are part of the Washington bipartisan inside-the-Beltway crowd committed to preservation of the status quo. Those who desire real change need to look elsewhere in 2008.

Larry Penner

West Village is a mess

To The Editor:
Over the years, I have seen the streets of the West Village get more and more filthy. We are not talking about some strewn papers, but rather piles of garbage. Causes might be up for debate, but a few I have witnessed are some city Sanitation workers, but mainly private carters, leaving spills to lie on the ground festering. I have seen entire bags of restaurant waste break in the street and private carters just drive away.

Another cause is the increasing number of homeless people who rifle though trash bags, throwing items all over the street.

When you think of tourist sites in Manhattan you think of Times Square, Wall St. and, of course, Greenwich Village. What do the first two have that we don’t? Business improvement districts with both security — for an extra set of eyes to help police — but, more important, mini-sanitation crews to help clean up the main streets and avenues every day. I believe there is a small one west of Sixth Ave. on Eighth St., but I don’t ever see anyone doing any cleaning!

A BID is a necessity, especially in the area from LaGuardia Pl. to Hudson St. and W. Houston St. to Greenwich Ave., encompassing main thoroughfares, such as Christopher, W. Fourth and Bleecker Sts., as well as Washington Square Park. With all of our proud community boards, rich restaurateurs and the wealthiest neighbor of all, N.Y.U., we can easily accomplish this and have our streets as clean as Wall St. on a Monday morning.
Dave McQuire

Row over Park Row

To The Editor:
Re “City’s new traffic plan draws Chinatown fire” (news article, Oct. 24):

As a resident of Park Row at Chatham Square, reading the city’s new Park Row plan was more than distressful. For years we fought to bring buses back to Park Row after diversion of several lines without notice after 9/11. When the buses were welcomed back, we had hopes that that was the beginning of further easing of restrictions on Park Row.

Your article did not have an explanation of changes in the bus route. The traffic on Worth St. and on St. James St. is now overloaded with numerous buses, trucks and cars. The courthouse, address 500 Pearl St., has its pedestrian and garage entrances on Worth St. since Pearl St. is also closed to traffic. Prior to 9/11 there was a bus route there, and its closing increased traffic on Worth St., which is a narrow street now difficult to cross. Actually, my sister-in-law was hit and her leg run over by a bus on Worth St. in April 2005.

There is no need for a wide pedestrian esplanade on Park Row. I am thankful for the removal of “off-the-shelf” security barriers and hope to see the second pop-up barrier, which is actually not being used, also removed. The community needs normal use of Park Row from Chatham Square to City Hall.

Ora Gelberg

Story of a newsstand

To The Editor:
I grew up at 234 Thompson St., where I still live. Throughout my life, there was a newsstand in front of my apartment building. I remember Joe and Grace, who owned it in the ’50s and ’60s. They made and sold lemon ices and sliced watermelon in the summer, and were like family to everyone on the block. My mother, Helen Iannello, who also grew up on the block, remembers that same newsstand being there for 80-plus years.

For many years, Afzal and Altab Shaikh ran the newsstand, pursuing their American dream, just like Joe and Grace, and providing a continuity of a local tradition — contributing to making our neighborhood close-knit and quaint and a colorful tourist attraction — until they were closed down by the city last December.

Reopening the newsstand, which has sat dark, empty and unused these last 10 months, is really a no-brainer. The newsstand has operated without a problem for 80 years. It boggles the mind to think that it somehow suddenly became “illegal.”

Mark Iannello

Dot-commer on Power

To The Editor:
Re “Pieces of the mosaic” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Oct. 10):

Jim “Mosaic Man” Power is an East Village fixture. For 20 years, Jim has adorned the streets with beautiful mosaics that are mini-history lessons, giving our neighborhood a unique identity. But Jim has moved on, leaving his legacy in the hands of gentrification.

I have known Jim for many years now. People have many different opinions about the talented artist, but I have maintained that he is a dedicated, caring and passionate community member. Sure, he may be a little misunderstood by the masses. What true artist isn’t? Sure, he may be known as sometimes being volatile and downright abusive. Eh, passionate community member? Sure, he has made his opinion quite clear that he single-handedly created the East Village. (And Ginsberg? Papp? Warhol? Hoffman?)

Sure, you never know if he is going to yell at you or embrace you. I can’t completely justify that part. … But since 1987 — 20 years after the term “East Village” was created and 40 years after the Beatniks, musicians, activists and artists started moving in — the man has helped create a landscape which uniquely identifies the area south of 14th St. and north of Houston St. as a place of radical arts and ideas.
Jim Power is just one of the many casualties of gentrification. I have had many discussions with Jim about this very topic. How can you not be bitter when you are an overlooked pioneer and the new population does not appreciate you? When you cannot afford to live in a neighborhood you helped identify? When the very streets you have bled on and slept on are lined with fashionable hipsters, posing against your mosaics drinking $4 coffee and talking to someone back home about how radically adventurous they are standing on Avenue B? This is enough to make anyone volatile and abusive.

Jim Power has left it all behind to make his way in Brooklyn. He sold his eastvillage.com for a mere $10,000. Now if you type in that domain name, there are three large images of the nearly complete and much-protested, five-star Cooper Square Hotel and a promise for “a new artistic community.”

We can’t blame Jim for packing it all in. Many just wish he had left the domain and his legacy to a more grassroots cause.

Good luck Jim, we will miss you. And good luck Brooklyn! You’ll need it.

Eric Ferrara
Ferrara is a founder, East-Village.com

Wash. Sq. letters flap

To The Editor:
Re “Park plan is for the birds” (letter, by Luther Harris, Oct. 10):

Stanford White’s intention was to place the arch at the foot of Fifth Ave. There is no documentation establishing that White’s intention was to place the arch off-center from the fountain. White obviously had to discuss placing the arch on park property with the Parks Department. The fountain was already in place and Parks had no intention of spending money to move it.

The present arch is a few feet south of the original site of the temporary wooden arch. Fifth Ave. was not going to be moved and the fountain was not going to be moved. Had the Parks Department been redesigning the park at the time the arch was added, as they are now, it is likely they would have moved the fountain.

The current planned shifting of the fountain involves no additional costs, as the fountain must be dismantled anyway for repair. The fountain is merely being shifted slightly to align with the arch, retaining 80 percent of its original footprint.

When Harris says the entire arts community is against moving the fountain, he conveniently omits the vote of the 11 members of the Art Commission, which unanimously endorsed moving the fountain. The Art Commission members are selected from world leaders in fine arts, architecture and design. I testified before them. It is obvious that they unanimously agreed with my position that pedestrians and vehicle occupants would enjoy the fountain plumes through the opening of the arch, not only those who reside at One or Two Fifth Ave., as Harris claimed when he yelled this out at the Art Commission hearing.

Harris asks: “Would Laura Lisa Smith like a cracker?”

Laura Lisa Smith would like a beautiful park as proposed in the new Vellonakis design.

Laura Lisa Smith

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