Volume 78 - Number 39 / March 4 -10, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Editorial

Two great Villagers

Last week, the Village lost two individuals who made invaluable contributions to this community, serving it selflessly for decades — Dr. Charles Vialotti and Rosemary McGrath.

Vialotti, a Village native who was 99, was a “medical marvel,” if ever there was one. He was examining patients at his Sixth Ave. office until three years ago, when he finally decided, well, maybe it might be time to retire.

A model of dedication, he once made 19 house calls in a day. His waiting room contained everyone from longshoremen to aspiring actors. Vialotti let them pay what they could.

He was, in essence, a country doctor in the city. Generations depended on his care. Somewhere a hospital wing — or at the very least a waiting room, like his own, heavily used, diverse, always welcoming — should be named after this great man.

Rosemary McGrath embodied public service. A member of Community Board 2 for nearly 40 years, she was also longtime chairperson of the Fifth Precinct Community Council, which meets monthly with local police. A two-time C.B. 2 chairperson, she led on many critical local issues, from crime and public safety to health and children. As chairperson of the Joint Committee to Stop the Lower Manhattan Expressway, she saved many homes and businesses from demolition.

Though some might have differed with her politics — she was a conservative Republican in liberal Democratic Village — no one could question her commitment to the neighborhood. Her presence will be sorely missed.


$2 tolls are a start

Drivers’ free ride into Downtown and Midtown Manhattan moved closer to ending last week with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s compromise plan to charge drivers one subway fare to cross the East and Harlem river bridges. We commend the speaker for moving forward on bridge tolling, which is a major step toward shifting more responsibility to drivers to pay for some mass transit.

But the token $2 toll is not nearly enough when you consider the enormous costs society pays in pollution, lost business time, added traffic and reduced pedestrian safety because of automobile congestion. Car-pooling commuters will pay less than straphangers under the compromise, and won’t pay any more at busier times.

Shockingly, the new proposal has drawn resistance from outer-borough state senators who apparently think their lower-income, subway-riding constituents should pay more to enter Manhattan than the tiny minority of the wealthier drivers living in their districts.

The tolls, along with the proposed small payroll tax, should fund some capital improvements and help avoid severe service cuts and drastic fare increases. Market-rate parking fees and congestion pricing would be good additions, but unfortunately Albany isn’t yet capable of the bold changes we see in Washington. We’ll hope for one step for now.

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