Volume 78 / Number 6 - July 9 - 15, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since

Letters to the Editor

SeXXX and the city

To The Editor:
The irony is that the cesspool of drugs and prostitution festers little more than a block west of Carries’s fabled “Sex and the City” residence on Perry St., with its multimillion-dollar brownstones and photo-snapping celebrity worshipers. But no wide-eyed tourists venture around the corner to the dangerous Greenwich St. thug bazaar, because the action unfolds mainly from 2 a.m. till 5 a.m. In these predawn hours, residents who must head out to work are harassed, sometimes followed, groped and threatened.

The Sixth Precinct is just a four-minute walk away and, according to word on the street, its officers are more than ready to shut this crime-filled scene down. But the open and shameful secret is that their hands are tied. It’s not in the interest of Mayor Bloomberg, Council Speaker Quinn and other local powerbrokers to break up the menacing carnival in our midst, apparently.

Yet, in an almost comic twist, police are vigilantly busting harmless teens and tourists a few blocks east for sneaking a toke of marijuana on Gay St., as was first reported on June 18 in The Villager (“Pot activist busts on police for arrest in pot bust”) and then, two weeks later, on July 1, in The New York Times Metro Section. Will the Greenwich St. travesty be allowed to flourish until one of our neighbors is murdered? If so, we can only hope that the politicians responsible will have the decency not to show their faces among us at the services.
Rand Blunk

St. Vincent’s has options

To The Editor:
There are serious misconceptions circulating regarding the proposed St. Vincent’s/Rudin development plans.

We are told that the O’Toole site is the only viable location to build a “state-of-the-art” hospital; that other sites available are either too far away or would necessitate two-level emergency facilities. Interestingly, the primary available site that would meet St. Vincent’s needs is within the footprint of the current campus. St. Vincent’s has been asked to provide details about earlier proposals utilizing the current footprint and they have declined the opportunity for substantive discussion.

A secondary proposal for reallocation of the current Coleman and Link building sites would provide a footprint of 34,200 square feet — well within the “Critical building dimension of 20-35,000 square feet” specified in the “Current Codes, Regulations & Industry Practices” section of St. Vincent’s September 2007 report, under the heading “Current Hospital Design Standards.” Further, incorporation of only one of the hospital’s existing buildings, Spellman, and the inclusion of the property currently occupied by the Cronin building, would provide further floor space, well over the limited space at the existing O’Toole site.

Additional sites, all well within the stated service area up to 59th St., have been identified, as well as several south of 34th St.

The current plan is not one that benefits the community. We are well overdue for real discussions on a plan that enhances our neighborhood for generations to come.
Richard Merz

‘A dangerous precedent’

To The Editor:
If the St. Vincent’s-Rudin proposal for two massive towers on Seventh Ave. between W. 11th and W. 13th Sts. is allowed to move forward, this development will be the first of many, many more. 

The proposed Rudin development, with 400 condo units, a 200-car garage, faux townhouses and side-street retail is still too large, too bulky, out of keeping with the Greenwich Village Historic District’s fabric and would increase residential density far beyond our power to absorb it; think traffic, services and schools.

St. Vincent’s proposed, 300-foot-tall, ovoid tower to be built on the site of a demolished landmark O’Toole building is also out of keeping with our district. Moreover, this site is far too small for the hospital if any kind of future growth is to be taken into account. St. Vincent’s should seek an acceptable site outside the historic district.

St. Vincent’s is claiming hardship. But, especially in this case, a hardship determination calls for a financial burden of proof. Moreover, if this hardship case for demolition in a historic district is granted, it sets a very dangerous precedent, the first step on a slippery slope to a high-rise playground for the very rich, or new dorms and towers for The New School and New York University. This proposal for massive change in Greenwich Village is but the thin edge of the developer’s wedge.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission must proceed with cool deliberation and great caution. Greenwich Village should not become the next Pennsylvania Station.
Robert Moulthrop

Solving the superblock

To The Editor:
Re “How much of N.Y.U. superblock to landmark is issue” (news article, July 2):

 I testified at the Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing discussed in your July 2 article. I was the only speaker who actually testified against the proposed landmarking of the Silver Towers superblock and “tower-in-the-park” site plan. Everyone else was really arguing about what landmarking of the site plan would mean in terms of further development on the superblock.

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and its allies seem to feel — incorrectly, so it seems to me — that landmarking the superblock site plan would mean the virtual freezing out of any significant new development on the superblock. N.Y.U. seems to feel — correctly, in my opinion — that landmarking the superblock site plan would not only allow for significant new development, but would virtually dictate the construction of a fourth tower on the Silver Towers portion of the superblock.

 Unmentioned and overlooked in their debate are the following arguments: The superblock “tower-in-the-park” site plan is not what makes Silver Towers landmark worthy; the superblock site plan is anti-city and creates lots of problems for the Village; it does not meet the criteria for landmark designation; designating it a landmark would prevent the correction of these problems; and designating it a landmark would make a mockery of landmarking in New York City.

 Also overlooked in the discussion is the fact that a fourth tower conforming to a landmarked site plan would totally block off what is left of Wooster St. and make the superblock site plan even more anti-urban than it is now.
Benjamin Hemric

Sinking feeling on pier

To The Editor:
The commercial plan shown to the Pier 40 Working Group on July 2 raises major questions and varies considerably from the study commissioned by the Pier 40 Partnership. We believe the latter, which would be operated with a conservancy, has a stronger potential as a nonprofit adaptive reuse of Pier 40.

State legislation requires that space equivalent to at least 50 percent of Pier 40’s footprint be dedicated to park use. While this latest plan would retain the courtyard for ball fields, the pier’s “greened” area, available for non-sports-related, public use, would be restricted to approximately a half acre. That’s a small fraction of what previous plans included.

This plan would add many features that duplicate what would be available in the courtyard and elsewhere, while adding three high schools. It’s believed the owners of the St. John’s Center building might consider selling. Perhaps the School Construction Authority could turn a portion of the St. John’s Center into a number of schools, construct a foot bridge to Pier 40 and thus create a safe environment for both children and adults as they access the facilities on Pier 40 and the entire Hudson River Park.

As a result, adding buildings atop the pier’s weakened superstructure, which is prohibited by the park’s environmental impact statement — as discussed in our talking point in The Villager of July 2, “Authority should be zapped for Pier 40’s sorry state” — would be unnecessary.

Other difficulties with this new plan include an enormous event space on the lower floor, repeating problems with the rejected Related plan. Many of those arriving in vehicles for scheduled events would be rushing across the bikeway, and through a pedestrian corridor, to enter an enclosed street that would take them to the facility in the pier’s southwestern corner.

A closer look at an option for Pier 40 based on the Partnership study is urgently needed.
Bill Hine and Robert W. Smith
Hine and Smith are members, Save The Piers

Tragic theater vote

To The Editor: 
What gives? How did a community board become the (wrongful) guardian of American history? The Provincetown Playhouse isn’t just New York, just as Broadway isn’t just New York. Eugene O’Neill and the era the Provincetown buildings evoke belong to anyone who’s ever been moved by “The Iceman Cometh” or “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”

Let’s together get back to the drawing board.

New Yorkers have demonstrated loud and clear their desire to preserve and protect MacDougal St. Yet in approving N.Y.U.’s demolition plans Community Board 2 demonstrates that it is not listening, and not representing our best interests.

C.B. 2 and N.Y.U. must graciously permit the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places the time to make their decisions on the merits of 133-139 MacDougal St.
Kathleen McGee Treat
Treat is chairperson, Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association

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