Volume 78 / Number 11, August 13 - 19, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since
1933

Letters to the Editor

One developer who gets it

To The Editor:
Re “Builder gives up a whole lot, but neighbors are still sore” (news article, Aug. 6):

It seems to me that Peter Moore is actually one of the more responsible developers in town. He’s not planning anything outrageously tall or bulky for his small South Village site. And for a neighbor to complain about “more baby strollers, more dogs...taxis, limos” seems downright silly, as well as curmudgeonly.

In addition, Moore is absolutely right about rezoning the UPS parking lot at Spring and West Sts., together with the adjacent St. John’s Center, so that the street grid is restored, and the handsome, newly opened section of the Hudson River Park is more available to the local community. And, too, there’s Pier 40 behind those lots, which as he says, “seems to have some traction.” Indeed, it does, and, like Moore, I feel that the city ought to be thinking about that parcel of three as a unit, rather than simply turning the UPS lot into a Sanitation garage.

Alice K. Turner


Shameful zoning inequity

To The Editor:
Re “Time for rational rezoning is now” (editorial, Aug. 6):

Thank you to The Villager for its editorial supporting a long-overdue rezoning of parts of Hudson Square that desperately need it. It is truly a shame that more than two years after the first firestorm of opposition to plans for the Trump Soho condo-hotel — which the editorial correctly identifies as a “Trojan horse...unfettered by an essentially unenforceable restrictive declaration” — there has been absolutely no movement on community calls for a rezoning of this area to prevent similarly out-of-scale development, in spite of promises at that time that such a rezoning would be considered.

By contrast, the recent rezoning of the area to the north of the Trump project was driven by a single developer, not the community. And while the developer agreed to some last-minute concessions for his particular development, these are not written into the rezoning and do not apply to any of the other sites covered by the rezoning. Thus, whatever one thinks of the agreements the developer made — inclusion of some affordable housing, open space and a small amount of commercial space to maintain the neighborhood’s balance of uses — these are one-shot deals that do not apply to any of the other sites covered by the rezoning, and are not part of a comprehensive plan for the neighborhood’s development.

While a zoning change has been granted to accommodate one developer, zoning just to the south that allows 42-story towers like the Trump Soho condo-hotel remains untouched. It is time for our city officials to finally address this long-ignored problem.
 
Andrew Berman
Berman is executive director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation


Online kids and safety

To The Editor:
In less than a generation, the Internet has fundamentally changed the way we work, the way we play, the way we live and, perhaps most significantly, the way we connect with one another.

In most cases, these changes are for the better. Few of us today could imagine a world without online newspapers, BlackBerries, e-mail or instant messaging. But with these changes have come new challenges, especially when it comes to protecting our children. The world that today’s kids are growing up in is profoundly different from the one in which their parents — or even an older sibling — did. Our city’s children were born into a connected world. They’ve never known life without the Internet.

In some ways, young people today are more sophisticated than adults. They pick up new technologies in the blink of an eye, and before you know it, they’ve mastered them and assigned them a new verb: friending, tweeting, texting — who knew? But they’re still kids.

The online world is fraught with a new and constantly evolving set of risks, and the sad truth is, just because a child is at home doesn’t mean he or she is safe. Thirty-two percent of children have been approached by strangers online. Thirty-four percent have seen sexual content they did not intend to see. One out of every seven online children has received a sexual solicitation, and a whopping 85 percent of children have been targeted by cyberbullies.

These issues and more were discussed when the City Council hosted NYCyber Safety Summit 2008, an Internet-safety event at City Hall on Aug. 9.

Young people have leaped into the digital realm.  It’s time for us to become a bigger part of our kids’ online lives.

Christine C. Quinn and Gale Brewer
Quinn is City Council speaker; Brewer is chairperson, City Council Technology and Government Committee


Connor has been a wash

To The Editor:
Re “Education and traffic are issues in Senate primary” (news article, July 30):

I am amazed that Martin Connor has held the position of being my state senator for 30 years. The only time I actually see him is when he is being challenged for that position or performing legal work, usually for an incumbent, at the New York City Board of Elections — legal work, meaning attempting to disqualify opponents from the ballot.

In your article, you discussed a lot of Albany issues, but there is one that is dear to my heart and that is the Dr. Simon M. Bernard Baruch Bathhouse. This building is more than 100 years old and sits abandoned in the center of the largest New York City Housing Authority development in New York County — Baruch Houses. This bathhouse should have been declared a landmark decades ago.

There are more than 1,800 children in Baruch Houses with no community center to speak of. I have endured six years of Antonio Pagan, eight years of Margarita Lopez and nearly three years of Rosie Mendez and their excuses of why this bathhouse is not a priority for restoration and preservation of Lower East Side history.

That brings me back to the incumbent. I have written Martin Connor letters, sent him invitations and even gone as far as sitting with his representatives to discuss this issue — and that is where it ended.

Connor makes more on his private election-law practice than he makes being our state senator. One would question how he is able to do that. It is because he is a part-time elected official as are all the rest. What we need is elected officials who care more about improving the quality of life for their constituents than they do about improving their own private law practices.

Robert Caballero,
Caballero is president, Lower East Side Political Action Committee


Critic a shul no-show

To The Editor:
Re “Rebuild plan for shul fuels debate in congregation” (news article, July 30):

The person quoted in The Villager article, saying, “I have concerns that people who have shown up and prayed here for years are not allowed to become members,” has not shown up for a minyan himself in 25 years or so, nor for years has he contributed to the synagogue’s upkeep, either.

While there is any kind of discussion as to the future of this or any other institution, it is customary — and well within reason — that only those involved and who have faithfully participated are called upon to determine what happens going forward.

The shul’s membership, of course, will be revisited and hopefully expanded sooner rather than later.

Has anyone stopped to think about rising fuel costs or the very steep steps that the elderly can no longer climb to get inside and pray? Or the fact that my father has devotedly served as rabbi, without salary and with gratitude, for seven days a week for nearly 40 years?

Your article was for the most part well done. As a first-timer, it is difficult to know who’s who at any meeting. Hopefully, this will serve to clarify. Shelley Ackerman


Let ‘Die Yuppie’ feud die

To The Editor:
Re “Why ‘Die Yuppie Scum’ must die: Because it’s hate speech” (talking point, by Bobby Steele, July 30):

I did not witness the incident between Jerry The Peddler and Bobby Steele. Bobby told me his version, and Jerry told me his. From what I understand, Bobby saw “Die Yuppie” leaflets pasted up on some lampposts, decided it was “hate speech”and started ripping them down. At some point, he encountered Jerry, whosaw what Bobby was doing and loudly objected. As they argued about whether it is right or wrong to “hate yuppies” (Jerry insisted that he does hateyuppies), Bobby attempted to tear another “Die Yuppie” leaflet off a pole.At that point, Jerry grabbed his hand in an effort to stop him. Jerry denied to me that he threatened to kill Bobby, as Bobby is alleging, andJerry has taken things no further since this incident.

Bobby, on the other hand, has elected to wage a media campaign againstJerry on MySpace and via his piece in The Villager, and he attempted tohave Jerry arrested by filing a charge against him at the Ninth Precinct.

On Bobby’s MySpace page and in his talking point in The Villager, he slammed the then-upcoming concert in Tompkins Square Park (the July 27 show) as an “indoctrination” rally. This is strange, because Bobby was scheduled to participate as a performer at this show, which was sponsored by the SHADOW as the commemoration of the mini-police riot of July 31, 1988, that led to the larger police riot a week later on Aug. 6, 1988. This was the first in a series of three concerts in the park that commemorated the riots — hardly an “indoctrination rally.”

Bobby’s MySpace page also called for people to come to that show to backhim up in a fight with Jerry — this kind of kills Bobby’s argument as a victim. It seems he was inciting violence against the concert, which had nothing to do with Jerry!

After Bobby told me his version of what happened between him and Jerry, I told him that I hate yuppies as well — not that they should be killed! — and that, while everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, Bobby himself must realize the damage being done by the hordes of monied transients invading our neighborhood, forcing out small, long-term businesses and venues, as well as low-income and rent-stabilized tenants, like Bobby himself. Bobby’s response was to acknowledge that this is true, but that we should welcome the yuppies because we can “exploit them” by taking advantage of them. I don’t know what that means.

For the record, regarding any posters that were pasted up in advance of the three riot anniversary concerts, this was done by persons unknown, not at my behest or instigation. From what I have seen, these include front pages from the Daily News and Post, artwork from 1988 concerning police violence, cartoons of flying bottles and, yes, the dreaded “Die Yuppie” posters. I see these posters as part of a longstanding tradition on the Lower East Side, whereby local artists and activists have expressed their views by way of posting their art publicly.

At the end of the day, this is simply a dispute between two neighbors withdiffering views. Why it should be publicized in the media at all is beyond me. Who but a handful of your readers, literally, even know who Jerry or Bobby are, and who of them really give a damn? This is clearly a personal matter that should not be interpreted to indicate anything larger regarding the Tompkins Square activist movement on the Lower East Side.

Chris Flash
Flash is editor, The SHADOW



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