Volume 77 / Number 38 - Feb. 20 - 26, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the editor

Taylor: We can’t start again

To The Editor:
The recent editorial “End Pier 40 R.F.P.” (Feb. 13) recognizes the importance of taking immediate action on Pier 40, but misses a crucial point in this debate: abandoning the process is not the same as resolving the issue — and the issue must be resolved now.

As of today, approximately 40 percent of the 550-acre Hudson River Park is up and running, and in two years, that number will jump to 80 percent. Any reuse of Pier 40 must fund restoring the pier to sound physical condition, while also generating enough revenue to pay for approximately 40 percent of the entire park’s annual maintenance budget. Without achieving both of these important goals, we won’t be able to fulfill the vision of creating one of the greatest amenities built in Manhattan since Central Park was finished more than a century ago.

The Trust’s mission must be to find a balance that provides the community with the playing fields and parking they want and creates something that serves the entire region — in terms of revenue generation and as an attraction worthy of this location. Starting all over again, and ignoring the fact that this is our second attempt to engage private-sector interest in Pier 40, decreases the likelihood of success. In fact, it most likely dooms the process to failure.
Diana Taylor
Taylor is chairperson, Hudson River Park Trust board of directors

The delegates dilemma

To The Editor:
I was reading Scoopy’s Notebook “Stickler for the rules” (Feb. 13) and noticed several points that should be mentioned while there are others that are technically inaccurate.

The Democratic National Committee acknowledged as early as last year that, although harsh sanctions were imposed on the rogue states, the sanctions would be tough to enforce and at some point the delegates would be seated. There was an initial assumption that one candidate would reach 50 percent of the total delegates plus one early on, so that eventually, say, delegates from Florida and Michigan would have no impact. Obviously, things are unfolding very differently.

Also, not seating the delegates punishes the voters, not the state legislatures and state parties that bear responsibility for violating the rules. If angry Florida and Michigan rank-and-file Democrats in these key states feel they are being unfairly punished for something they had nothing to do with — especially Floridians, who are angry about being disenfranchised by Republicans in both 2000 and 2004 — turnout will be low and the Democrats will most probably lose both. 

The “pledge” not to campaign in the rogue states is not a D.N.C. rule and therefore is irrelevant to the discussion as to whether the D.N.C. should seat these delegates. The pledge was written and pushed by the party chairpersons of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada to protect their role as official early states. Neither the D.N.C. nor the chairpersons of the official early primaries asked, ordered, suggested, hinted at or implied that any candidate should remove his or her name from the Michigan ballot.

Clinton has been consistent since last year on the stance that she abided by the D.N.C. rules and took the pledge, but stated that at some later point we would need to discuss seating both states.

When Florida first violated the D.N.C. calendar, Obama said, “My job is really not to speculate on how to make it all work. I’m a candidate; I’m like a player on the field. I shouldn’t be setting up the rules.” However, Obama is actively campaigning and getting his surrogates and supporters to lobby the D.N.C. to base its decision on how this may affect the delegate count of the primary election, instead of the big picture to consider: how it will affect the party in November and whether the D.N.C. wants to be accused of doing what the Republicans do regularly during competitive elections.
Jon Winkleman

The Village — or N.Y.U.-ville?

To The Editor:
Re “University makes pact to reduce its impact” (news article, Feb. 6):

The article states, “Brad Hoylman, C.B. 2 chairperson…noted that Sexton, then the Law School’s dean, was instrumental in preserving the Poe House’s facade in the Law School annex.”

Is that a laugh line?

Have you ever taken visitors there? They are utterly flummoxed. It doesn’t even make sense. That New York University thinks this screwball patch is an amelioration for destroying our history is a testament to N.Y.U.’s traditionally horrendous sense of architecture and its lip service to community concern. It’s like a murderer saying, “Here, take this — at least I did a face cast of your grandfather before killing him.”

It astounds me that our officials, those supposedly safeguarding this area, so rich, so full of history, this precious and irreplaceable resource — this one place in the city that has some connection to what a New York City community must have felt like 200 years ago — these streets where so many people of history have walked, these buildings where they lived and worked and played, this — oh, I can’t express it. …

Remember when W. Third St. didn’t look like a canyon? Remember the ivy-covered buildings? Remember the great coffee shop Miteras? Remember the Edgar Allan Poe House before it was headstoned into an N.Y.U. building?

Remember Washington Square Park, before N.Y.U.’s buildings cast one-quarter of it into shadow in wintertime?

N.Y.U. is fast making historic Greenwich Village history — dead history that will only be found in books.

Who has allowed this inexorable anschluss, who has allowed this rare treasure to be obliterated by an uncaring N.Y.U.?

If Robert Moses wanted to drive a highway through N.Y.U. today, there’d be no protest at all. Of course, N.Y.U. today is our Robert Moses. And cleverer by far, N.Y.U. has slowly, systematically kicked out or co-opted all who’d oppose them.

We all know N.Y.U.’s big student draw is its location in the heart of New York City, in fabled Greenwich Village. But how many of them can it hold? The Village may fool the kids today, but it’s increasingly N.Y.U.-ville. Even without more destruction, N.Y.U.’s current plans for its superblocks will cram in another giant mass of proportionally very young, temporary residents with no stake in the area. The wall-to-wall bars and chain stores students think they’re escaping will soon follow. Just another college town.

Total N.Y.U.’s holdings up, if you dare — its occupation of the Villages is immense. When is enough enough?

Here’s a radical proposal: Maybe N.Y.U. should base its attraction a little more on academic achievement and a little less on geographic desirability. Or the day is fast approaching when N.Y.U. will have to insert into one of its shiny new buildings a facade of Greenwich Village. 

The rest of us will be long gone, gone with our history, our culture and our neighborhoods. Only the facades of N.Y.U. will be left.
Gene Borio

Nip N.Y.U. growth

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. goes gonzo on its superblocks in new ideas” (news article, Feb. 6):

As longtime residents of the Village and members of the LaGuardia Corner Gardens, we view the current N.Y.U. expansion plans with dismay.

This is the biggest assault on the values and quality of life of the historic Village since Robert Moses tried to ram the Lower Manhattan Expressway through. Fortunately, Moses was stopped by Jane Jacobs and her fellow Villagers.

Two issues are paramount: preservation of green space for the community and preserving the historic character of the Village.

Our community garden, with its childrens’ programs, community outreach and general improvement of air quality, is an absolute necessity. It serves not only children but also the elderly, who cannot travel to a botanic garden.

We are a community of generally low-scale buildings, which foster a sense of neighborliness, not a soulless collection of high-rise towers, which foster estrangement and lack of participation in the civic process. We owe it to the past and the future to preserve the Village’s character.

It has been pointed out that other cities like Paris manage to preserve their historic cores by relegating major development to the outskirts, developing satellites to the historic core, not threatening what needs to be preserved. Perhaps N.Y.U. and the Borough President’s N.Y.U. Task Force and the community board need to find a similar solution to N.Y.U.’s needs for megaspace.

We would like to see N.Y.U. develop another community somewhere else using cutting-edge technology and world-class architects (an opportunity here), instead of ravaging an existing community. That would be an opportunity to create something new, rather than destroy something that works and already serves the community.
Sara Jones
Jones is chairperson, LaGuardia Corner Gardens

Hits roof over omission

To The Editor:
Re “Green roof classroom idea grows at P.S. 41” (news article, April 25, 2007):

In this article, a statement was made that no public school in New York City has a green roof.

I would like to inform you that in fact there is a public school that has a green roof, the School of the Future, at 127 E. 22nd St.

Our school has had a green roof for nearly two years and there are publications acknowledging that fact. Anyone from your newspaper or Jill Stern, the article’s author, is welcome to come to the school and see the roof!
William Council
Council is a ninth grader at School of the Future

Chamber ignores impact

To The Editor:
Re “Chamber: St. Vincent build plan checks out” (news article, Feb. 13):

While the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce — of which St. Vincent’s is a member — may have voted to support the Rudin Organization/St. Vincent’s Hospital plan for a new state-of-the-art medical center, it did so on the basis of the hospital’s perceived needs and in total disregard of the impact and dangerous precedent such a plan would have on the Greenwich Village Historic District and all the city’s other historic districts.

Even after allowing that the hospital is in dire need of modernization, what justification is there for allowing Rudin to build an out-of-scale, out-of-context, luxury condo development using the large-scale development rights previously granted to St. Vincent’s in its capacity as a community-service provider? Those rights cannot be allowed to be transferred to a for-profit developer.

St. Vincent’s and Rudin are obligated to prove that their plan to demolish historic buildings and build two gargantuan, out-of-scale buildings is appropriate to the Greenwich Village Historic District. As a member of the Community Working Group constituted by St. Vincent’s for input, I can tell you that the community’s input was ignored and the die was cast when St. Vincent’s, by going with Rudin’s megabucks, rejected other less grandiose, less ambitious development partners who would have preserved the historic buildings on its campus.

To reach the proper result, this must be a discussion of community and compromise, not “we need as much money as we can get and therefore we should be allowed to build as large as we want.” The community has offered an intelligent, well-thought-out compromise in its Community Alternative Plan, which so far has not been addressed by St. Vincent’s.
David R. Marcus

St. Vincent’s, listen to us

To The Editor:
Re “Chamber: St. Vincent build plan checks out” (news article, Feb. 13):

The article states: “The Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce has voted to support the St. Vincent’s Hospital/Rudin Organization plan for a new state-of-the-art medical center.” However, while St. Vincent’s may view this as an endorsement of its plan, it should be noted that the chamber’s statement does not address any of the difficult issues surrounding the plan as it now stands. While a large majority of Village neighbors also support St. Vincent’s in its effort to modernize, they do not support the plan in its current form, which is out of context with the neighborhood, and which makes a mockery of landmark protection by proposing to raze four historic buildings for no other reason than to maximize developer Rudin’s profit. If St. Vincent’s listens to its neighbors and formulates a more appropriate plan, it will be able to see the headline “St. Vincent’s neighbors support hospital plan” in a future issue of The Villager.
Caroline Benveniste

Wants some answers

To The Editor:
Re “Madame X’s weird Web” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Feb. 6):

While many have told me they enjoyed reading of the potential high-spirited campaign for City Council in 2009 between myself and the present chairperson of Community Board 1, I just have two questions for Ms. Menin:

Are you ever going to publicly condemn the Trump Soho condo-hotel and the ominous shadow it casts on our neighborhood?

Did your family’s company, Crescent Heights, make a cool profit of millions of dollars off the sale of the land on which the Trump Soho now sits?

Candor is a virtue that can unite a community.
Peter Gleason

End the deconstruction

To The Editor:
Mayor Bloomberg says he wants to get money for the city (not maintenance for parks) with naming rights of facilities in parks. Corpses are being dug up regularly in Washington Square Park so that the fountain can be moved to be named as a memorial for a billionaire real estate family’s dead father. Have we no ethics left, no morality? This is not a multimillion-dollar building project. It’s a public park built over multiple cemeteries. End the deconstruction. Restore the park. Let the dead rest in peace.
Margie Rubin
Rubin is a member, Disabled in Action

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