Volume 78 - Number 47 / April 29 - May 5 , 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Blogger blasts Quinn ‘lies’

To The Editor:
Re “Quinn: Let’s take our share” (letter, by Christine Quinn, April 22):

I’ve lost my sense of shock at Speaker Quinn’s easy lies in pursuit of her own ambitions.

Facts: The facility now aimed at Washington and Spring Sts. was ULURP’ed and approved for 30th St. and 12th Ave. That facility served two districts and included green space. Then, the mayor and the speaker colluded to give that lot to Joe Rose and The Related Companies for development of the Hudson Yards (a decade away) and then supersized and redirected the Sanitation garage to Hudson Square.

Why would Quinn accept this? Because her political base is in Chelsea, her political sponsor is in the left side of City Hall and her supporters are heavily invested in real estate.

Quinn sent young staffers to meet with the community a couple times, but only after multiple cancellations and ordering who “could” attend! Only after I embarrassed her in my blog did she attend (briefly) the Council hearing in November 2008. But she voted for the facility.

She has done nothing to mitigate the impact of this project on the community. She has not stood up for the notion of “fair share” — three districts and a salt shed within three blocks is much more than a “fair share.”

She brags that she gave the community time to find alternative locations. Am I missing something? Aren’t our public servants supposed to be doing this work? Aren’t my ever-increasing taxes paying for anything?

The biggest lie that Quinn tells is that we are a bunch of NIMBY’s.

We have said yes to a reasonable facility. Give us the two-district version with green space that was headed for 30th St., and we’ll shut up. Until then, I will do everything in my power to reveal Quinn for the self-serving, ineffectual pol that she is.

Rosemary Kuropat

Darn good job on dorm

To The Editor:
Since praise for New York University is rarely seen in the pages of The Villager, I thought it would be appropriate to acknowledge the fact that the new dorm being completed on 12th St. between Fourth and Third Aves. that was built on the site of a historic Catholic church, is turning out quite well.

When this building was first proposed, there was a great deal of concern about its size. Surprisingly, however, its 20, low-ceilinged stories do not appear to be much higher than the 16-story, high-ceilinged condo next door.

Also, the fact that the new building is set back about 50 or 60 feet from the sidewalk gives the area around it a spacious look.

And, finally, the beautifully restored church entrance and steeple are a charming reminder of the area’s history.

So, “Cheers for N.Y.U.!”

Marvin Korman

Gerson is alcoves hero

To The Editor:
As a longtime resident of the Washington Square neighborhood, I was thrilled to learn that the Landmarks Preservation Commission had voted to approve a design for phase two of the park renovation that retains four of the seating alcoves so strongly desired by local residents. The seating alcoves on Washington Square Park’s east side provide quiet, contemplative spaces that foster a sense of community and neighborliness within a busy and heavily trafficked park.

When it was discovered that the Parks Department intended to eliminate all these seating alcoves, numerous members of the community took a strong stand in favor of the alcoves. Councilmember Alan Gerson led the efforts to retain these unique features of Washington Square Park and made a very forceful presentation on our behalf to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, asking it to delay a decision until further negotiations could be undertaken with the Parks Department. The commission did as he asked, giving him time to pursue the negotiations that produced a favorable result.

I am grateful to the members of the Landmarks Preservation Commission for listening so carefully to the concerns of our community’s residents and for taking the action they did to retain some of the alcoves we feel are so important. But I am most grateful to Councilmember Gerson for the very effective action he took, and to Rita Lee, Gerson’s director of community initiatives, in helping us to attain this goal.

Constance Dondore

Bus scene looking bleak

To The Editor:
Your readers will be interested (and probably distressed) to learn that, in addition to the potential and devastating loss of the Eighth St. cross-town bus, we are also slated to lose the M6 route. Furthermore, because of the planned closing of Broadway to traffic between Times Square and Herald Square, the M7 will be rerouted to go south on Seventh Ave. instead of Broadway.

These changes will take place regardless of whether there is a budget plan to rescue the M.T.A., because they relate to the Broadway closing, rather than to the fiscal crisis, according to M.T.A. officials.

Here are some of the ways Lower Manhattan riders will be affected: Herald Square shoppers who live near or east of Fifth Ave. will no longer be able to return home by catching a bus (currently either the No. 6 or the No. 7) going south on Broadway; riders living or working in the City Hall/Lower Manhattan/Tribeca area will lose the No. 6 on Church St., and have no northbound service other than the far-west No. 20, which zigzags through Battery Park City and winds up on Hudson St.…or the No. 1, way to the east on Centre St.; Villagers wanting to go Uptown will have to rely on the none-too-reliable No. 5 service — and that limited-stop line will be changed to make local stops up to 14th St.; at that point, the No. 7 will swing around from Seventh Ave. to proceed northward, and presumably the No. 5 will again become a limited service.

These changes will mean loss of service for some people, and less service and longer waits for everyone else in Lower Manhattan. While there are multiple subway lines in this area, there are many people who cannot, for a variety of reasons, use subways. By spacing bus stops further apart and also eliminating routes, the M.T.A. is ignoring the needs of people with disabilities and the growing class of older New Yorkers who rely on mass transit.

Carol Greitzer
Greitzer, a former city councilmember, chaired the City Council’s Transit Committee

Accentuate the positive

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

Rather than being anti-everything, I suggest that people in the Village are pro-humanity, pro-community, pro-schools, pro-parks, pro-preservation and pro-transparent honest political and community board process.

Unfortunately, the case of Rudin/St. Vincent’s cited as an exemplary “careful community process” by Keen Berger in her letter to the editor (“The case for case by case,” April 8) actually runs counter to many of the above principles.
For example, though the proposed towers for St. Vincent’s and Rudin’s luxury condos are lower than originally projected, they are still wholly too high and inappropriate in the context of the Greenwich Village Historic District. For Ms. Berger to say the towers were shrunk is pure hyperbole.

It is also ironic that this project has been supported by our local politicos, considering the fact that Rudin intends to bring approximately 400 additional families into our area, creating an even greater strain on our already severely overburdened local school system.

The hypocrisy of those Rudin/St. Vincent’s supporters is clear when one realizes that Rudin earned brownie points for this project by allegedly helping to alleviate the classroom shortage when, in fact, he will, as I have pointed out, exacerbate the problem.

So we get stuck with outsized buildings, our local school system gets increasingly overburdened and Rudin is applauded.

A “careful community process,” Ms. Berger? I think not.

Gary Tomei

Losing Balducci’s — again

To The Editor:
I am disappointed to hear that the 14th St. Balducci’s is being closed for “underperforming.” This is a store that has consistently met its corporate performance indicators, despite intense local competition and the inability to fully customize itself to the neighborhoods it serves.

Several sources have told me that the store would be kept open if a rent reduction could be negotiated.

The Balducci name has been synonymous with Greenwich Village for scores of years. It is sad to see it disappear for a second time, taking with it some extraordinarily knowledgeable, friendly and helpful staffers.

Hopefully, a new nearby location can soon be found for its resurrection.

C.J. Scheiner

By Demo, no demo’s

To The Editor:
I read with interest “Fear of landlord demo’s before district’s calendared” (news article, April 22) because I work at the archives that hold the papers of the Our Lady of Pompei parish.

In the early 20th century, few parishioners had telephones; so when they wanted something of the pastor, Father Anthony Demo, for whom Demo Square is named, they wrote him a letter. The letters include their return addresses. The result is that I can walk between two worlds. From the letters, I have a map of the Village highlighting Pompei’s parishioners’ homes and businesses. When I walk through the Village, I can still see many of the buildings.

While I understand Village buildings have to meet the needs of those who live and work here, to lose those buildings would be like losing other precious records of the Italian community that meant so much to the Village’s history. I look forward to the creation of a South Village Historic District, and to historians coming to our archives to bring the people of that historic district back to life.

Mary Elizabeth Brown

South Village can’t wait

To The Editor:
Re “Fear of landlord demo’s before district’s calendared” (news article, April 22):

When the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated Greenwich Village a historic area back in 1969, they almost got it right. However, they left large tracts of the Village unprotected. It’s taken 40 years to get some bits and pieces of those unprotected areas designated as historic districts.

The South Village can’t wait any longer. Developers are coming in and destroying many of the unique and historic buildings in the South Village.

When I walk down Bleecker St. and see “1891” written on the cornice of a building, I try to imagine what life was like in the Village almost 120 years ago. We don’t want to see these historic pieces of New York City replaced with mini glass towers. People come from all over the world to see “old” New York; they know what glass towers look like, probably from back home.

We’ve lost too many of our precious historic buildings in the name of progress. The time for the L.P.C. to act on the South Village designation is now, before more of the South Village’s character is demolished and lost forever!

Linda Franklin

Yard fix is elementary

To The Editor:
Re “P.S. 41 kids go to the drawing board for playground” (news article, March 11):

I attended the P.S. 41 “Yard to Playground” meeting on March 10 as a member of the community. (My children attended P.S. 41.) While the community is very pleased that this important effort is finally moving forward, we are extremely concerned that the yard-to-playground conversion will be delayed for nearly two years — not ready until early 2010! Building on P.S. 41 Principal Shannon’s expressed support for extending operation hours in the interim, may I suggest four easy interim steps:

• Protocol for immediate opening: If addressing the crisis in open recreation space in Community Board 2 has been identified by the mayor as a PlaNYC priority, it makes little sense that another two years will pass with locked gates and kids stuck indoors. Building on Principal Shannon’s current efforts, the P.S. 41 playground should be opened immediately to neighborhood children — for the spring of 2009.

• Time of operation: The goal is for the playground to be open first thing on weekends, weekdays and holidays until dusk. It is important to confirm these standard times with community children so that they are assured of open gates when they walk to the yard.

• Type of operation: The flea market prevented kids from using the playground as a playground — cutting the space’s weekend recreational potential by 50 percent. Could we relocate this flea market from the active play areas? Organized sports teams and organized activities dominate our kids’ lives, to the detriment of informal games and creative play. The playground should not be unduly taken over by these formalized activities.

• Creative solutions for funding and maintenance: P.S. 41 should not shoulder these interim maintenance burdens alone. We look to our elected officials and community leaders for creative solutions to balance safety, maintenance and use. We have already held discussions with some Department of Education representatives and C.B. 2 members on a protocol for immediately opening the yard. C.B. 2 typically requests use of the P.S. 41 auditorium and other spaces for community use — and the custodial staff is reimbursed once approvals are signed by the Department of Education. The same or similar procedure could possibly be implemented for the P.S. 41 yard.

Jeffrey Raven

‘Retire’ 1 and 2 W.T.C.

To The Editor:
Re “Freedom from diversions at the W.T.C.” (editorial, April 8):

While most New Yorkers recognize the jingoistic nature of naming the tallest building at the rebuilt W.T.C. complex the “Freedom Tower,” perhaps it would be wiser to number the four new towers beginning with “Three.” By skipping “One” and “Two,” we call attention to the extraordinary memorial “Reflecting Absence” with its two vast pools designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker.

George Haikalis

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