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Volume 77 / Number 29 - December 19 - 25, 2007

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

‘I’m not driving truck plan’

To The Editor:
Re “Trash trucks, not trapezes, is latest idea for Pier 40” (news article, Dec. 12):

In his recent article about the idea of using part of Pier 40 as a garage for sanitation trucks, reporter Josh Rogers makes it sound like I’m trying to lead a movement. I’m not. 

The Hudson River Park Act requires sanitation truck parking to be removed from Gansevoort Peninsula so the park can expand onto its seven acres of land, and it identifies the 15-acre Pier 40 as a revenue opportunity for the Hudson River Park Trust. There were two unintended consequences of this language in the act: The future of our neighborhood is now threatened by a mega-mall for large-venue entertainment on Pier 40 and the future of the Hudson Square neighborhood between Canal and W. Houston Sts. is now threatened by a 140-foot-tall structure for three Department of Sanitation district garages to be sited next to residential buildings on Spring St. 

Together, these projects are likely to push Hudson Square, a transforming neighborhood, into an intensive hotel and entertainment district. People who care about their neighbors should help them in their fight against the Spring St. sanitation garage, and people who care about the park should join the fight against The Related Companies’ takeover of Pier 40. But if the fight to save the pier succeeds and no alternative way to rebuild it is found, the next generation won’t have the pier; and if the fight to save Hudson Square from the sanitation garage succeeds and no alternative location for the garbage trucks is found, the trucks will stay at Gansevoort and there will never be a park there. 

If some trucks can be parked at Pier 40 in a low-impact way and this can reduce the size of the Spring St. garage and be part of a way to save Pier 40 for public open space and recreation, it’s an idea that may have merit.

Tobi Bergman
Bergman is president, Pier Park & Playground Association and chairperson, Community Board 2 Parks Committee


The travesty of Trump

To The Editor:
The Department of Buildings’ position on the Trump Soho hotel is that the 30-day maximum occupancy requirement satisfies the law for a transient hotel. This position is contrary to the policy that D.O.B. has enforced for many years.

D.O.B. has for the past 30-plus years refused to accept plans where they suspected that the space would be used illegally, even though what was stated on the plans was perfectly legal. For example, a cellar space calling for a recreation room, a storage room, a three-fixture bathroom and a laundry area with a sink are all perfectly legal, but would be disapproved if D.O.B. thought the cellar was intended for an illegal apartment. To prevent the cellar from being used illegally, D.O.B. requires that the bathroom be limited to a two-fixture lavatory, shelves be installed on the walls of the storage room and the cellar have no separate entrance to the street, as a minimally acceptable arrangement.

In the case of the Trump “transient” hotel, D.O.B. has accepted the developer’s statement that all stays will be less than 30 days, even though it would be impossible to enforce this requirement. The decision to allow a transient hotel with kitchen facilities is contrary to the established policy of preventing a building from being used illegally, which could be easily prevented by the simple expedient of not permitting kitchen facilities. Without kitchen facilities, the Trump units would be legitimate transient hotel suites, avoiding the necessity of D.O.B. checking on the 30-day-stay limitation.

It would be relatively easy to check on the installation of an illegal cellar apartment after it is built, whereas it is impossible to check if a transient hotel suite has been occupied by the same person or persons for more than 30 days. Yet D.O.B. still prevents anticipated illegal cellar occupancies while not preventing anticipated illegal “transient” hotel use.

I. Donald Weston
Weston is chairperson, Urban Design Committee of AIA Brooklyn


Novel idea for N.Y.U.

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. eyes superblocks for super-sizing plan” (news article, Dec. 12):

Charles Urstadt, the vice chairman of the Battery Park City Authority, proposes just about doubling the area of B.P.C. by extending its northern border to Canal St. Currently the landfill ends at Chambers St. So far, Urstadt’s idea has gotten a hostile reception from Community Board 1. But what about this: In exchange for development rights to some of the new B.P.C. land, N.Y.U. agrees to curtail development and surrender all its air rights south of 14th St.? To me, it’s a no-brainer.

Rick Altabef


Pre-Pyramid history

To The Editor:
Re “Push to make Pyramid Club city’s first ‘drag landmark’” (news article, Dec. 12):

Thank you for your article about the hopeful landmark designation for 101 Avenue A. As Patrick Hedlund well details, the building has been home to the Pyramid Club since 1979, a time of acute interest to many of us passionate about recent past decades in the Lower East Side.

You do a honorable job covering the important architectural and social history of this largely intact 130-year-old tenement. Since most of those who drank beer in Leppig’s Hall, starting in the late 1800s with the first and second Messrs. Leppig — father and son were known as the Mayors of Avenue A — are dead and most of us who know the commercial establishment there as the Pyramid Club are hopefully yet alive, much of The Villager article covers the history we remember: Extraordinary history in an extraordinary tenement building.

While perhaps less immediately engaging, 101 Avenue A through its first 102 years of history warrants landmark designation based upon social, historic and architectural merit, described in the nomination submitted by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

As Kern’s Hall, Shultz’s Hall and eventually Leppig’s Hall, the building served as an important gathering place for the German immigrant community for social, religious and work purposes.

As we appreciate with the landmarking of the old P.S. 64, the former El Bohio, the history of our immigrant communities deserves honor and remembrance. The gathering places in which they led their social lives are a tangible and vanishing heritage and must be protected. Landmark designation is the most appropriate means. No less than for any other reason, the tenement at 101 Avenue A deserves designation as an individual New York City landmark based on the role it played in the flourishing of Kleindeutchland (the Lower East Side’s “Little Germany”) until the General Slocum disaster.

Thank you again for an important article.

Michael Rosen
Rosen is a founder, East Village Community Coalition


The pits: No Apple bathroom

To The Editor:
Re “Where meat once ruled, Apple adds a whole new flavor” (news article, Dec. 12):

It is a wonderful thing to have another Apple Store in the Big Apple, closer to us in the Far West Village. Real apples have pits, but the Apple Store on 14th St. has no pit stop. Customers spend hours purchasing equipment, going to seminars, waiting on line to talk to geeks at the Genius Bar. But they had better wear diapers, or do as they do in other parts of the world — use the sewers outside if they have to go. Evidently, the architects and designers of the new store must believe that Mac techies are just virtual humans, with no biological functions left.  
 
Jacqueline Taylor Basker


Crushed by Parks juggernaut

To The Editor:
Isn’t it remarkable? Concerned Villagers go through all sorts of conniptions to stop the desecration of Washington Square Park — public hearings, meetings, rallies, resolutions, letters, litigation — and all through the turmoil the Parks Department moves stolidly ahead with its destructive plan to change the character of the park from a people’s park to a patricians’ promenade. The general hand-wringing continues.

Is there a lesson to be learned here?
 
Vahe A. Tiryakian


What about the Bowery?

To The Editor:
The Department of City Planning has removed the Bowery from the Lower East Side rezoning plan, exposing the Bowery to out-of-scale hotel development. If the current Lower East Side rezoning is approved, prohibiting large-scale development to the east of the Bowery, the pressure to develop hotels on the Bowery will be irresistible. Such upscale development extending south to Canal St. will also transform Chinatown beyond recognition.

New York is losing its ethnic, historic neighborhoods to overdevelopment and gentrification. Chinatown and the Bowery are still lined with many of New York’s unique and historically significant structures. The area is thriving, busy, socially and economically successful, full of lively, commercial and residential street life and commercial activity that serves local, low-income residents among human-scale, mixed-use structures.

Chain stores and commercial and residential displacement follow upscale development. Landlord harassment, already on the rise on the Lower East Side and in the East Village, will spread throughout the rest of Community Board 3. Local businesses and residents will be driven out. Upscale nightlife will replace ethnic eateries. Chinatown’s unique character will be lost.

Is this City Planning’s intent for the Bowery and Chinatown? If this is the city’s plan, then all New Yorkers deserve to know it. Will our local elected officials — Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Martin Connor, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Brian Kavanagh and City Councilmembers Alan Gerson and Rosie Mendez — ask the Bloomberg administration and City Planning to announce publicly their plans for the Bowery and Chinatown? Will they ask City Planning and the mayor if the city intends the Bowery to be lined with out-of-scale hotels? If this is not the city’s desire, will they then ask what immediate action will the city take to avert hotel development along the Bowery? Will they ask if City Planning will include the Bowery in the current L.E.S./E.V. rezoning to save the Bowery from destruction?

The people of this city urgently need to know if their government intends to rob them of their history, of their ethnic variety, of their favorite neighborhoods and of the character and beauty of their city, to replace these with revenue-generating, glass-and-steel anonymity, banks, Duane Reades and chain stores, devoid of community, of street life, of human interaction, of stability, of community commitment, of any character that could be called New York.

Alice Abell, Alyssa Adams, Courtney Lee Adams, Deanna Anderson, Philip VanAver, James Battaglia, Martin Brown, Gwendolyn Bucci, Brent Buell, Keefe Butler, Ed Cahill, Elizabeth Capelle, Barbara Caporale, Esther Chambers, John Chin, Janice Cline, Carol Conway, Ellin Crane, Eve Cusson, Martha Danziger, James Dougherty, Wendy Davidson, Philip DePaolo, Lou Dembrow (LES Girls Club), Ken Diamondstone, Udo Drescher, Susannah Driver, Nancy English, Eric Ferrara, Zeke Finkelstein, Martha Fishkin, Joanee Freedom, Eden Fromberg, Meghan Gille, Cristabel Gough, Frances Goldin, Gail Goldsmith, Mark Hatalak, James V. Hatch, Luke Henry, Rob Hollander, Eric Hurliman, Joseph Iberti, Elissa Iberti, Rafael A. Jaquez, Sarah Johnson, Zella Jones, Virginia Kaycoff, Weiwen Ke, Susan Ko, Bill Koehnlein, Diana, Ronald Latigano, Marilyn Leong, Linda Levit, Adriana Lopez, Iris Lopez, Jennifer Lynch, Don MacPherson, William Manfredi, Michael Mauriel, Marilyn McCall, John McDermott, Jane McNichol, Matt Metzgar, Louise Millmann, Rebecca Moore, Maria Muentes, David Mulkins, Cate Nailor, MaryBeth O’Hara, Michele O’Neal, Bob Ortiz, Tom Ostoyich, Gilda Pervin, Kenny Petricig, Daniel Peckham, Anthony Piantieri, Marie-Claire Picher, Mor Pipman, Don Pollock, Kathryn Posin, Gayle Raskin, Quinn Raymond, Ephraim Rosenbaum, Felice Rosser, Elizabeth Ruf, Elissa Sampson, Anna Sawaryn, Marion Schacter, John Schmerling, Roberto Serrini, Monte Schapiro, Joelle Shefts, David Sheldon, Jean Standish, Bonnie Sue Stein, Dr. Harlan and Rima Strauss, Dean Clarke Taylor, Ed Torres, Michelle Vergara, George Wachtel, K. Webster, Max Weissberg, Sue Williams, Katharine B. Wolpe and Sally Young



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