Volume 78 - Number 43 / April 01 -07, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Cline is Gerson’s Scorsese

To The Editor:
Re “District leader donnybrook?” (Scoopy’s Notebook, March 25):

Someone should reform the Village Reform Democratic Club. Executive Committee member Ray Cline is at it again. Cline is holding auditions for the position of challenger to at least two incumbent Democratic district leaders, one in the 64th Assembly District and the other in the 66th A.D. Cline’s real motivation is to protect his leading star, incumbent City Councilmember Alan Gerson. Mounting district leadership challenges to all those who would not play a supporting role in Gerson’s re-election campaign to the City Council is what Cline seems to do best.

Why does V.R.D.C. allow a member of its Executive Committee to single-handedly instigate political fights with other Democratic political clubs? First, it was the Village Independent Democrats, then it was CoDA and now it’s the Downtown Independent Democrats. V.R.D.C. even has another member of its Executive Committee, Ms. Norma Ramirez, challenging the super couple — District Leaders Alice Cancel and John Quinn — in the 64th Assembly District.

Just who exactly sits on this V.R.D.C. Executive Committee that allows these members to take on these incumbent district leaders, creating all of this political havoc and drama all over Downtown Manhattan? The cast of characters includes Joanna Saccone, Howard Hemsley, Ray Cline, Norma Ramirez, Bob Ortiz, Noah Yago and Luke Henry, to name only a few. 

The leading role in this political drama is being played by none other than Alan Gerson. Ray Cline would seem to be making his directorial debut by holding casting calls. Then you have the rest of the supporting cast, which would seem to be the entire Executive Committee of V.R.D.C.

Once Ray Cline has selected his new crop of actors/challengers, how does he plan to fund this production, or political campaigns? Is V.R.D.C. playing more than a supporting-cast role by financially sponsoring this political drama? Is Alan Gerson’s re-election campaign financially supporting V.R.D.C.’s campaign of attempting to intimidate and threaten all district leaders in the First Council District with primaries if they don’t tow the line?

The only person that would seem to be benefiting from this soap opera is Cline’s leading star, Alan Gerson. I can’t wait to see who earns the Oscar come September.
Roberto Caballero
Caballero is president, Lower East Side Political Action Committee

St. Brigid’s in perspective
To The Editor:
Re “It’s the spirit that counts” (letter, by Hilda Whitby, March 25):

Hey Hilda, I agree it would be a shame to see St. Brigid’s turned into an endless building project — but we are quite a long way from such a situation. First, let’s fully restore the church. Its true mission will be enhanced by such a restoration. And St. Brigid’s isn’t anywhere on the scale of St. John’s, which was originally designed to be in continuous construction until it was larger than St. Peter’s in Rome — in order to outshine the Catholics; such is the nature of interfaith competition, I’m afraid.

Now it’s the time to make sure that the archdiocese does the right thing.
Roland Legiardi-Laura

Parishioners fight back
To The Editor:
Re “Soho church lacks an ‘angel,’ but they have faith in lawsuit” (news article, March 4):

Good reporting on a major development in the Catholic Church, where the parishioners assert their rights against the machinations of the hierarchy. The Villager wants to preserve New York City’s monuments, and this action is just, wise and right.
Saulius Simoliunas

Nix mounds, keep alcove
To The Editor:
The Washington Square Association board of directors has concerns about two issues related to Washington Square Park’s phase 2 design: the mounds and the alcoves.

Regarding the mounds in the park’s southwest corner, we believe the current plan is an ineffective compromise that offers no real play value for the children intended (ages 7 to 12). The mounds as proposed allow for no skating, snow boarding or bicycling. Furthermore, there is an intractable drug problem in this section of the park. It is imperative to establish a viable play space and to restore appropriate activity in this area. A suitable alternative might be the cable structure for slightly older children originally suggested by the park designers. Such a structure has already been approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Though we are excited by and publicly support the overall design of Washington Square Park, we would like the L.P.C. to also consider a slight alternative to the eliminated alcoves in phase 2. We understand that any isolated spaces within the park should be avoided because they encourage undesirable behavior. However, we suggest an exception be made for the north alcove, across from the children’s playground. This space is often used as an annex to the playground and should be incorporated back into the phase 2 designs. We urge the L.P.C. to consider maintaining this space, but at half the current size. This could be an effective space to facilitate small group conversations and welcome the overflow from the playground. A mixed-use group of seniors, parents and children would clearly benefit from this additional nook, and would serve as an informal policing agent against delinquent behavior.

In addition, the Washington Square Association, a proud sponsor of the annual music festival, supports the current proposal for the stage in the park. The music festival has offered free, critically acclaimed concerts in the park for more than 50 years, attracting thousands to the park on summer nights. We are very pleased that the community’s thoughtful discussions and compromises have helped shape this performance space.
Anne-Marie W. Sumner  
Sumner is president, Washington Square Association and Friends of Washington Square Park  

Peeved by park closure

To The Editor:
Washington Square Park has been under construction and mostly closed for well over a year. For long stretches of time, there was little or no work being done. At the moment work is proceeding at a modest pace with a small number of workers.

The park’s northwest quadrant has been completed for at least six months but remains closed. There have been no public updates or announcements to my knowledge. Apparently, New York University has given up on holding its commencement ceremony in the park this year and has decided to hold graduation at Yankee Stadium.

The Villager has shown little or no interest in covering the status of reconstruction or the reasons for work stoppages and the slow pace of progress. Without public scrutiny, it is not surprising that the Parks Department has let the time for completion slide and kept silent on the reasons for delay.

Joe Martingale

Rosen’s out of the zone

To The Editor:
Re “Fighting on many fronts to protect our neighborhood” (Progress Report article, by Michael Rosen, March 18):

Michael Rosen tilts history in “Fighting on many fronts…”. Justly praising the Community Board 3 197a Task Force for the good in the rezoning, he then blames City Planning exclusively for what he describes as a questionable upzoning of Houston and Delancey Sts.

The task force itself, intending to incentivize affordable housing construction, first proposed the upzoning of Houston and Delancey for inclusionary zoning.

Following public outcry, the task force did ask City Planning for a little less upzoning — 100-foot rather than 120-foot height caps on Houston and Delancey. But the task force always pushed for significant upzoning there along with affordable housing incentives, as other commenters point out in your special report.

I applaud the comments of the task force members who, rather than reopening divisive old wounds, focused on the positive they won in the rezoning. Healing truly serves community.

Rob Hollander

Pagan’s legacy: A sell-out
To The Editor:
Re “A complex legacy: Friends and foes reflect on Pagan” (news article, Feb. 11):

I would like to thank you for your excellent article on Antonio Pagan. During the ’80s and ’90s, I was involved in the struggle for housing, and in the East Village Antonio Pagan was known to be a lackey for developers and the Giuliani administration.

To me, he seemed another heartless politician, as he closed the CHARAS cultural center and prevented Housing Works from opening a facility. He did a lot of damage to the progressive movement in the East Village. To quote Chris Flash of The SHADOW newspaper: “The damage to our neighborhood inflicted by the gentrification and overdevelopment that Pagan facilitated as a lackey of real-estate interests will continue to be felt for decades to come.”

He doesn’t leave much of a legacy. From what I remember of Mr. Pagan, he was just another heartless, mean-spirited, sell-out politician! Who I don’t miss one bit.
Eugene Carrington

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