Volume 78 - Number 40 / March 11 -17, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Kramer ‘rewrites history’ 
To The Editor:
Re “Not in Strouse’s name!” (letter, by Susan Kramer, Feb. 18): 

As one who worked closely with the late Evelyn Strouse — when I represented her and the Union Square community in the City Council — I was shocked to read Susan Kramer’s fictionalized account of park history.

Yes, Susan was an early advocate for an improved playgound, but it was the current leadership of the Union Square Community Coalition that forced the Parks Department to scuttle its early bifurcated plan and come up with a larger, improved design. 

And yes, Evelyn did support the former open-air cafe — on the grounds that the nighttime activity would help drive out drug dealers and bring neighborhood people into the park. That rationale  might have been valid back in the ’90s; but these days there’s plenty of positive nighttime activity all around the square, with the big retail stores open till 10 p.m. — and some till 11 p.m. — and the many restaurants  on the park perimeter open even later.

Contrary to Kramer’s fantastic assertion that Evelyn favored the current north plaza redesign, the fact is that Evelyn left the city before the design was made public. Nobody knows for sure what she would have thought of it, but I am convinced that her sensitivity toward preservation and the historic uses of the pavilion would have made her oppose privatization of this structure. Further, her interest in children would likely have made her agree with those of us who want to see the pavilion used as a sheltered recreation space. After all, it is adjacent to the playground.

What is wrong with Susan Kramer that she does not want to see the pavilion preserved for public use?
Carol Greitzer

9th’s not a cabaret, old chum
To The Editor:
Re “Show’s over for precinct cabaret unit” (news article, March 4):

Thank you for the article giving information to the community regarding the Ninth Precinct cabaret unit. The community board office has received some calls from very upset residents regarding the loss of the unit. If the N.Y.P.D. believes this will be an improvement, they clearly can also improve the communication process.

I would like to clarify a statement from me that you had in quotes — but which I believe was a paraphrase of what you thought I was saying. You reported that I said the unit inspected a few bad bars and kept the rest on their toes. This sounds as if I were saying that the unit was effective by intimidation — I would never say such a thing, and those words don’t even sound like mine.

I was trying to show balance by saying that there are a few irresponsible bars, but that the unit has expertise; and that I have known these officers to work with business owners to resolve issues with residents, help the operators reduce noise and other problems and work with bar owners on the highest crime issue in the district — grand larceny.
Susan Stetzer
Stetzer is district manager, Community Board 3

Editor’s note: The Villager stands by the quote attributed to the letter writer: “The cabaret unit really focuses on a handful of bad bars, and keeps everyone else on their toes.”

Dog run is all that’s left
To The Editor:
Re “A complex legacy: Friends and foes reflect on Pagan” (news article, Feb. 11):

Antonio Pagan is responsible for the dog run in Tompkins Square Park. I don’t know what I would do without it!

When I moved here 35 years ago, it is true there was crime all over. But there was also a community!

I was lucky that I spoke Italian, so that I could move where I am now, 199 Avenue A. All the building was Italian, and there was a bakery with delicious bread. How I remember the smell. Then there was a fig tree in the back and grapes hanging on the fence.

People would hang the wash to dry. Birds were at my window, and I could hear the bells ring from Mary Help of Christians, and people would sit outside. Everybody was friendly and I felt accepted.

Then things changed. The baker left the building due to taxes. The new landlord cut the fig tree down. Unsavory characters moved in. Among them, “high class” drug dealers with an attitude.

They got rid of my dear neighbor and put her in a nursing home, where she stayed for 22 years. They wanted to get rid of me, too. I had to fight like crazy. I was attacked and left for dead. Then they burglarized me, killing my dog and destroying everything they couldn’t steal, including 11 years of my work. My dog Charlie was something special — a neighborhood dog.

Most of the people I knew moved away or died. The nice little businesses disappeared. No butcher, no fish store. Also the Polish restaurants and kielbasa store. Also gone are the nice little bars.

Thirteenth St. was very lively between Avenue A and First Ave. There was salsa music and businesses, sometimes people dancing.

Before, everyone got along: Hispanics, Muslims, Asians, whites, blacks. Across from the mosque there is a Jewish school and nearby on 14th St. a synagogue.

People loved animals and helped each other out. The veterinarians would come to the park, and they had a heart. Now the area is inundated with vets who have no heart and charge too much. Everything is so strict and cold. Money, money, money.

Just as when I grew up in Switzerland, I feel like a minority. I am of French Gypsy background.

Although this is not a problem over here, I feel left out, almost lost. I don’t recognize the neighborhood and its atmosphere. Especially on weekends with all this loud, kicky crowd.
Ginette Schenck 

Cookies, conflict, community
To The Editor:
Re “Panthers vow to shut down ‘Negro Head’ cookie baker” (news article, Feb. 4):

Awesome article about Lafayette Pastry by Lincoln Anderson. It was pure, honest neighborhood reporting at its best about great neighborhood community conflict and activism.

How hilarious that we have Lafayette and Patisserie Claude in the West Village — two rather intense pastry chefs.

As for me, I’ve always preferred Claude. The man, and the pastries, are vastly superior.

Risa Mickenberg

It’s a bigger problem
To The Editor:
Re “Report finds small businesses are facing very big challenges” (news article, Feb. 11):

The statement “...[S]mall businesses are constantly facing the possibility of rent increases or eviction” also applies for poor people living in apartments with greedy landlords and managements.

Alas, the article focuses on symptoms but not the root causes. The ruthelss, voracious greed of the landlords and real-estate managements is driven, to a very large degree, by the hardended materialism of the masses. That is, it is the dog that wags the the tail, not the tail that wags the dog.

If The Villager wants to address the root cause, focus on the consciousness of the masses.
Michael Gottlieb  

Viva The Villager 
To The Editor:
I grew up in the heart of the West Village many years ago, and although I’ve lived elsewhere for a long while, it was good to see The Villager alive and well since my return East. Good to see The Villager in print and online. 

Bob Vecchiotti 

E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 145 Sixth Ave., ground floor, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.

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