Volume 78 - Number 44 / April 8 - 14, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Letters to the Editor

The case for case by case
 
To The Editor: 
Re “The anti-everythings” (letter, by Alan Miles, March 25):

My greatest joy as district leader is listening to the community. About 10 percent of the people may be what Alan Miles described in his letter, “anti-everythings.” Another 10 percent are, like Miles, pro-change. Happily, the vast majority — about 80 percent — consider innovations case by case, detail by detail.  

That is true in every example he cited, all of which were improved and revised because of community voices. The most recent example is St. Vincent’s Hospital. Thanks to a careful community process, historic buildings were protected and towers shrunk. We continue to advocate for low-income housing and schools at that site. No one — well, not more than 10 percent — wants St. Vincent’s to leave the neighborhood. And fortunately no one — well, perhaps Miles and a few others — swallowed St. Vincent’s first proposal. 

The accusation that Villagers are “anti-change” is as reactionary as the statement that “any change is good.” Most Villagers are more thoughtful. 
 Keen Berger
Berger is the female Democratic district leader for the 66th Assembly District, Part A, and chairperson of the Social Services and Education Committee of Community Board 2

Garbage before students?

To The Editor:
Re “Stars add glitz to garbage garage and roof-park plan” (news article, March 25):

I have gone to several of the community and City Council meetings on the proposed Spring St. Sanitation Department garage. I was speechless when I received Christine Quinn’s letter trying to defend herself. She has done nothing to show support for the community. At several meetings, her flunkies declined to even speak for her.

Clearly, we are short so many classroom seats. I cannot fathom how this city and Mayor Bloomberg can even think about spending $500 million for a Sanitation garage — asking an already overburdened community to take, not one or two, but three districts’ garages — when we so desperately need another elementary and middle school in the area. Why is garbage so much more important to our elected officials than our children? 

I have gone on record publicly on these issues at several community board meetings, but no one has even summoned so much as a murmur of a response, and no one seems to care.
 Meredith Berkowitz

Dump the megagarage!
 
To The Editor:
Re “Stars add glitz to garbage garage and roof-park plan” (news article, March 25):

Why is the city talking about putting a three-district garbage garage in a neighborhood where 100 kindergartners don’t have a seat in September in their locally zoned public school? The city tells us it is searching high and low for sites for schools.

Greenwich Village Middle School, on the top floor of P.S. 3, is too small for a middle school and too big to be taking up space in overcrowded P.S. 3 and P.S. 41, which will have kindergartens of 25 children next fall and still not have room for the 300-plus kids who registered.

The Spring St. site is near the park and the Pier 40 fields and smack between overcrowded schools in Community Board 1 and overcrowded schools in Community Board 2. Garbage doesn’t need to stay in its neighborhood the way a 5-year-old does.
Ann Kjellberg

Pagan: The real last word

To The Editor:
Re “Squatters caused riots” (letter, by Susan Leelike, March 25):

Susan Leelike — like many supporters of Antonio Pagan — clouds the issues surrounding the homeless people who were forced to live in Tompkins Square Park with her own dislike of, as she puts it, “so-called demonstrations to protect the homeless.” But a hundred years of social activism in New York and the United States clearly indicates, “Power yields nothing without a demand.”

Ms. Leelike would have us wait for the government to act in our behalf. Her faith in the system alone distances her and most of Mr. Pagan’s supporters from the majority of Lower East Siders. In fact, if it were not for a secretive process that redrew City Council Council district borders in the early 1990s, bringing in wealthier and more conservative areas to this Council district, Mr. Pagan probably never would have been elected.

Mr. Pagan’s supporters — as much as some of them would like to be — are not judge, jury and executioner. Legal due process is the right of even homeless people and squatters. Although the process is messy, that does not not give Mr. Pagan’s supporters a right to circumvent people’s rights. Just look to California, where the state is currently allowing thousands to live openly in parks because of the current depression.

The folks who instigated the 1988 riot in Tompkins Square Park have a big job shifting blame to the victims. But nothing the police did that hot night was out of character or the result of the errors or bad apples. What happened that night was exactly what the opponents of the rights of the homeless wanted; it’s just that the police riot backfired on them, winning support from the community for the homeless people.

In fact, the tent city in Tompkins Square Park in the 1990s could not have existed without broad-based community support, including the support of Councilmember Miriam Friedlander, several judges who ruled in favor of homeless rights and thousands of protesters, of which only a handful were squatters.
Paul DeRienzo

Getting mad about ads
 
To The Editor:
Hey! I thought you were on our side!

I strongly object to your taking full-page advertisements for the re-election campaign of that pro-big real estate, anti-preservation Mayor Bloomberg on the prominent back of your paper.

Likewise, I strongly object to your taking warm-and-fuzzy Rudin real estate advertisements. It gives the impression that you have given in, and that your need of their money is making you seem to support them.

C’mon guys! Have a bake sale if you need money, but don’t you be added to the list of nonprofits and politicians whose treasuries need Rudin/Bloomberg money, so that they don’t dare oppose them in any big way.

A word of advice from this ever-lovin’ Village neighbor and Villager subscriber — who is pro-O’Toole preservation and pro-St. Vincent’s finding a wonderful billionaire to buy them space for a magnificent new hospital in a poor neighborhood of Downtown Manhattan.
 Elizabeth Ryan

Water drilling is monstrous
 
To The Editor:
Re “No fracking way! C.B. 2 forum warns about water” (news article, March 25):

Reporter Albert Amateau writes about how “...huge volumes of water laced with sand and a cocktail of toxic chemicals...at least 247 chemicals are used in the process,” regarding extracting natural gas from shale formations deep under the earth. This process used in or near New York City’s water sources obviously endangers our drinking water.

There is something so hellish, so Frankenstein fiendish about this that it almost seems unreal, unbelievable.

Thanks to The Villager for informing and alerting its readers to this nightmare possibility.
 Michael Gottlieb

Union delivered the news
 
To The Editor:
Re “Lost in the mail” (Scoopy’s Notebook, April 1):

I appreciate Scoopy running the item about the closing of the post offices, including the Prince St. station. But I am more than a postal employee. I’m the legislative and political director of the New York Metro Area Postal Union, A.P.W.U., A.F.L.-C.I.O.; if it was not for the union, the members of the community affected by the closing and the elected officials who represent the area wouldn’t have learned of the closings. The union itself wasn’t notified by the United States Postal Service, but through our members we learned of the stealth plan and informed the press, the elected officials and the community.
 Chuck Zlatkin

A restaurant was already there
 
To The Editor:
Re “Work on pavilion can get cooking; Lawsuit tossed” (news article, April 1): 

Let’s be clear: The project fixes up the restaurant space — Luna Park — that was in the Union Square pavilion before the restoration began. We may not “need” another restaurant, but the neighborhood isn’t exactly overflowing with places where you can eat outside except on a busy sidewalk. Outdoor restaurants are public places, too.
  Alan Miles

Regular folks, not a restaurant
 
To The Editor:
Re “Work on pavilion can get cooking; Lawsuit tossed” (news article, April 1):

In a neighborhood with the highest density of restaurants anywhere in New York, do we need another restaurant?

I certainly hope the R.F.P. makes sure there is a space for regular people to come meet in the space, like they did after 9/11, like George Washington did the day the British left town, and as people have done so many days in between.

Union Square is our public commons. Its our Hyde Park. We don’t need another restaurant. We need public space for democracy and deliberation, and a little boogie woogie. I hope there is still space for that in N.Y.C.
Benjamin Shepard

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