Volume 78 - Number 29 / December 17 - 23, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the editor

Theater’s first act was tough

To The Editor:
Re “‘Plants on a hot tin roof’; Theater plans to go green” (news article, Dec. 10):

Just to set the record straight, Theater for the New City did not “inherit” its space on E. 10th St. It took a massive effort led by Floyd Feldman, then director of Good Old Lower East Side, to convince the city that T.N.C. would be a good partner for the underutilized Department of Sanitation space in the former city market building. We should all remember Floyd for the moving force he was in our community.

Susan Leelike
Leelike is co-founder and former associate director, Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES)


Bike lanes are a boon

To The Editor:
Re “The new Grand bike lane isn’t, Little Italy merchants complain” (news article, Nov. 19) and “New protected bicycle lanes are rolled out on Eighth Ave.” (news article, Dec. 10):

As I was born and raised in Greenwich Village by parents who are avid cyclists and had me riding at the age of 5, the new protected bike lanes would have made my childhood much safer. The physical separation from moving cars enhances the experience immensely, and undoubtedly will provide the children of today and the future safer rides than I ever had.

While I applaud your balance in presenting both pro and con voices on the bike lanes on Ninth Ave., Eighth Ave. and Grand St., the selfishness and ignorance of the business owners is amazing. They should be at the forefront asking for more bike lanes. How many of their customers really drive to their stores?

For the Little Italy owners to claim that a bike line is causing their drop in profits is absurd. Have they not read the news that the country is in a recession? Without a doubt, the space taken away from cars will be a gigantic boon in the warmer months as more pedestrians and cyclists get a feel for how pleasant it can be down there without two lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic. Do these owners complain when Mulberry St. is only open to pedestrians in the summer? Are those days bad for business?

What needs to be seriously addressed is the lack of police pressure on motorists that drive in or obstruct these new bike lanes. There should also be permanent space reserved on each block for loading and unloading. Joey Mintz


Cyclists should see the light

To The Editor:
Re “The new Grand bike lane isn’t, Little Italy merchants complain” (news article, Nov. 19):

The Department of Transportation commissioner is to be congratulated on the opening of even more bike lanes, as well as the redesign of motor-vehicle traffic lanes. Both of these measures will increase the safety of cyclists by separating the two modes of transportation and will encourage the use of bikes in New York City.

But would it not be wonderful if cyclists were encouraged, maybe possibly forced, to have their bikes equipped with headlights and taillights? I would have thought that the mere thought of self-preservation would make cyclists do so. Do they know how nearly imposible it is to see bikers at night, both for motorists and pedestrians? We have all, unfortunately, gotten used to bike riders going through red lights and putting themselves and pedestrians in danger. Having lights on their bikes would really help.

When I lived in England, I once got a ticket for going through a stop sign on a bike. I don’t expect the N.Y.P.D. to go that far. But now that bikes are a larger part of our traffic, a little cooperation from bike users and enforcement by the police would be useful. I am assuming that the use of headlights and taillights on bikes is part of our traffic code.
 
William Gross


Save stores; reduce lights

To The Editor:
Re “Helping small stores” (editorial, Nov. 19):

Knowing my longtime concern in obtaining commercial rent regulation, a friend just forwarded your editorial “Helping small stores,” which contains the good news that Upper Manhattan Councilmember Robert Jackson has introduced such a bill. But the bad news is your comment that despite the bill’s support by 16 councilmembers, “It likely will not pass.” 

The small stores that meet everyday needs, plus our public transit system, are what make New York City truly great — livable, emotionally and physically healthy. And yes, “green” too, except this most basic type of greening need is not considered by the mayor and others who only think bottom line real estate and tourist attraction.

In my Yorkville neighborhood, we’re now losing a coffee shop, Cafe 79 at First Ave. and 79th St., that has been serving the community for 38 years; and yet mine is the only media voice trying to make it a cause célèbre. Civic groups and local officials are only cluck-clucking.

Speaking of greening, going harsh, unhealthy, fluorescent to save energy is an utterly destructive way to go. Instead, reduce the excessive lighting increasingly used in the last decades; start with fewer decorative lights on Christmas trees and elsewhere. Start with the huge Rockefeller Center tree, an enormous tourist attraction — so many lights you can’t see the tree — this magnificent tree that should never have been cut down.

Bette Dewing


Planters are the problem

To The Editor:
Re “Vendors are tax cheats” (letter, by Tim Clark, Dec. 10):

Mr. Clark, much like Councilmember Alan Gerson, doesn’t have any legitimate complaints to make about street artists, so he must invent them. Even when he’s commenting on a letter of mine published in The Villager (“Vendors aren’t the problem,” Nov. 26), he manages to get every single fact he is referring to wrong.

I’m not self-appointed, I love trees and I have no problem with Soho having lots of garbage cans. My letter focused on illegal planters, approved by Councilmember Gerson for the sole purpose of obstructing legal street artists and vendors. Even anti-street-artist fanatics like Mr. Clark can’t fail to see the idiocy of Gerson claiming a need to eliminate First Amendment-protected street artists from Soho due to sidewalk congestion, while aggressively congesting all the same sidewalks with illegal planters.

Robert Lederman
Lederman is president, A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists’ Response to Illegal State Tactics)


Hope still left for LEFTist

To The Editor:
On Sept. 18, 2006, Joshua David Crouch was found lying on the West Side Highway by passing police officers. Upon arrival of emergency help minutes later, Josh had already died. Josh a.k.a. LEFTist was a member of the Brooklyn hip-hop crew Mindspray and worked in the West Village and Lower Manhattan as a sometime barback and waiter. His place of employment at the time of his tragic passing was The Capital Grille on E. 42nd St.

On the night of Sept. 17, Josh was at a dinner party held by the management of Capital Grille. After everyone had gone their separate ways, Josh was last seen at 510 Hudson St. at Employees Only at around 1:15 a.m. Two-and-a-half hours later, he lay dying in the middle of the West Side Highway at the W. 12th St. crosswalk.

According to police reports, there were no witnesses to what the authorities have classified as a hit-and-run and is now a closed case. In the 27 months since, I have found no answers to what exactly happened to my son, but strive to continue to find some justice for Josh. I have been at the crosswalk many times, sometimes all through the night, and never seen this stretch of road without vehicles. I am sure that someone saw something and has not spoken up because of fear or guilt, and I am asking the public to please come forward with any answers, so that Josh’s mother, brother and sister and I may have some closure.

Those who knew Josh have always said that “he was such a joy to be around, always positive and lifted up people just with his presence.” I realize that there are more than several pedestrian deaths each year that go unsolved and I keep hope for those family members, as well. Every day is a struggle and especially during the holiday season, because Josh was always home then, here in North Carolina, with his family.

If there is anyone who remembers seeing Josh that night, or may have information about what happened during the early-morning hours of Mon., Sept. 18, 2006, please contact Lincoln Anderson at The Villager at 646-452-2464 or lincoln@thevillager.com.
 
James David Crouch


Odetta and inauguration

To The Editor:
Re “A letter to Obama about Odetta; She can still sing” (Appreciation, by Jerry Tallmer, Dec. 10):

Odetta was truly a national treasure, and this is a damned good idea.

AC Smith


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