Volume 78 / Number 3 - June 18 - 24, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since

Letters to the editor

Where’s Lopez for us now?

To The Editor:
Re “Seniors say closing NYCHA centers is too great a gamble” (news article, June 4):

How vicious is the New York City Housing Authority’s threat to shut down the senior centers in many of its projects! Some of the most helpless of the NYCHA residents will be victimized. Most seniors live on fixed incomes, have nowhere to go and, in many cases, live alone.

It is a fact that the main reason NYCHA is in such dire straits is because the Bush administration cut the operating subsidies. However, NYCHA administrators made very bad decisions. Almost 25 percent of the current residents are not considered “low income.” Those residents are caught in a bind. There is no place for them to go due to the lack of affordable housing. NYCHA doesn’t really want to lose them anyway. But NYCHA refused to raise the rent cap for those residents who were over income, making some residents pay 10 percent (NYCHA’s own admission) of their income, as opposed to 30 percent for the other residents. Had NYCHA raised the rents of those who earned middle-income salaries years ago, they would not be operating at such a large deficit.

NYCHA is run by a board of directors of three members, who each earn a salary of around $200,000 per year. How about taking a pay cut?

Of course, for this neighborhood, it is especially tragic that our former councilmember, Margarita Lopez, who never missed an opportunity to attack NYCHA when she was in the City Council, has now joined the Housing Authority’s board of directors. She supposedly receives a salary of $210,000 and has a chauffeur. How she can be a part of cutting senior centers is absolutely abominable, in my opinion.
Anne K. Johnson
Johnson is a member, Community Board 3, and was vice president of the Al Smith Houses Tenants Association, a NYCHA complex, for 17 years

Mendez just doesn’t get it

To The Editor:
Re “Washington’s and Robeson’s spirits haunt pavilion plan” and “Partnership hails achievements it has cultivated” (news articles, June 11):

When it comes to Union Square Park, Councilmember Rosie Mendez just doesn’t get it.

The issue is not about getting a smaller restaurant, or the inclusion of a takeout counter for folks who can’t afford a pricey eating establishment. The issue is the Parks Department’s usurpation and privatization of the children’s pavilion, a space that was formerly used for recreation purposes. There are many young adults, some who may be constituents of Rosie’s, who fondly recall playing in the pavilion before the Parks Department allowed it to deteriorate. The building’s proximity to the new playground demands its renewed use as a sheltered recreation space, and a place where there could be arts programs, as well as events that tie in with the farmers market. 

There may be parks where a restaurant would be appropriate, but crowded, heavily used Union Square Park is not one of these, located as it is where there are more than 100 eating places within a couple of blocks, including 17 right on the square. Let’s not lose this unique opportunity to provide a beautiful, sheltered recreation area adjacent to what we hope will be an attractive and innovative new playground. 
Carol Greitzer
Greitzer was a city councilmember from 1969-’91, during which Union Square was among the Downtown areas she represented

Art that’s 100% unfiltered

To The Editor:
Re “The ‘right’ to clog streets?” (letter, by Judy Seigel, June 4):

We, as artists, cannot vend “wherever the artist chooses to plunk it down…” as Ms. Siegel writes. The Department of Consumer Affairs publishes a list of streets that are restricted to book and art vendors.

While it is true that visitors to museums and galleries can view art at hundreds of locations citywide, all of those locations display art that has been filtered through the vision of a curator or panel, who have decided what they would like to acquire for the viewing public. One of the many unique qualities of art offered by street artists is that it is direct from us to the viewer — sans censorship, approval and standard curatorial myopia.

Museums are not the only game in town when it comes to “free hours” — every street artist across the city offers the same.

Ms. Siegel expresses a rather harsh and judgmental viewpoint pertaining to the quality of art offered for sale by street artists. I wonder if she would say the same about the catalog of books offered for sale by vendors of written matter.

As a Soho resident, I can attest that the congestion experienced on the weekends is almost entirely due to illegal, unlicensed, general vendors.

The rights we fought so hard for were not won for a “market,” as she writes. Those rights belong to everyone — including Ms. Siegel, should she ever choose to exercise them.
Ned Otter
Otter is a member, A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists’ Response to Illegal State Tactics)

Symbolism is dramatic

To The Editor:
This letter is to thank you for your interest in and discussion of New York University’s plans for the Provincetown Playhouse. I am an actress, theater historian and Provincetown/Susan Glaspell scholar, and would like to urge you to support the preservation of this historically significant landmark.

It is a symbol of one of the most important eras in U.S. history: the birth of the modern era, a time when all the social, intellectual and artistic movements
of the 20th century were emerging. The Provincetown Players, more than any other arts organization, staged this cultural and social revolution.

There is widespread agreement among theater historians that this group, more than any other, ushered in the modern era in American theater. Its
playwrights tackled the most (and, for the most part, still) controversial issues — sexism, marital conflict, race and racism, moral hypocrisy, violence — in the most experimental and eclectic forms.

Artists and intellectuals nurtured there include Eugene O’Neill, Robert Edmond Jones, Susan Glaspell, Louise Bryant and John Reed, Charles Gilpin, Paul Robeson, Rose McClendon, Jasper Deeter, Abbie Mitchell, Sanford Meisner, Cleon Throckmorton, Djuna Barnes, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Theodore Dreiser, William and Marguerite Zorach, Edna Ferber and the list goes on.

Please do what you can to raise awareness and support the preservation and utilization of this significant landmark and to recognize and sustain its legacy.
Cheryl Black
Black is associate professor of acting and director of graduate studies of the department of theatre, University of Missouri; author of “The Women of Provincetown, 1915-1922;” secretary, American Theatre and Drama Association; and executive board member, Susan Glaspell Society


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