Volume 79, Number 6 | July 15 - 21, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Floored by bench complaints

To The Editor:
Re “New-style benches don’t sit well with park regular” (news article, July 8)

As a 28-year resident of the Village, I say to Stephen Maniloff: Get a life! If new benches in the park that he finds less comfortable than the old ones are his “worst nightmare,” then I want his life. I can think of so many more worse things to get worked up about. Obviously, as he admits, he was prepared not to like the design of the new benches, but to use words like “egregious” and “devastated” seems a bit a sit strong. I say: Go sit in Father Demo Square and leave Washington Square Park to those of us who love what has been done and look forward to the completion of our park. 

David Lehmann

It’s a matter of slats

To The Editor:
 Re “New-style benches don’t sit well with park regular” (news article, July 8):

 I sat in the new benches and the old ones and the difference is that the old benches have three back slats with the top one supporting my shoulder blades, whereas the new ones have only two slats with the top one well below my shoulder blades. (This difference is also evident in the article’s photos). This is why Maniloff cannot rest his arm high up. 

 Even with the old benches that have only two slats, it is the lower slat that is missing, so the top slat rises to support my shoulder blades. The benches in Father Demo Square have three back slats and support the shoulder blades — like the old Washington Square Park benches. 

 I guess they made up for using the more expensive rainforrest hardwood by providing fewer slats.

Charlie Walker

Simply ridiculous 

To The Editor:
 Re “New-style benches don’t sit well with park regular” (news article, July 8):

Fantastic article! Takes whining to a whole new level.

Bob O’Sullivan

Gerson a friend of artists? Ha!

To The Editor:
Re “Grassroots arts center is rebuilding ‘green,’ from ground up on the L.E.S.” (news article, July 8):

While it is great that ABC No Rio got the funding, it is a fact that Councilmember Gerson is as far from being a friend of artists as one can get. He has spent his entire eight years in office trying to destroy artists’ First Amendment rights. Getting some tax dollars for a real-estate deal involving an arts group is a clever move as he faces a difficult re-election. In fact, it’s exactly what Gerson specializes in: helping landlords who have art tenants get tax dollars, tax write-offs and tax breaks. It has zero to do with the arts and everything to do with real estate.

Robert Lederman
Lederman is president, ARTIST (Artists’ Response to Illegal State Tactics)

This one’s hard to stomach

To The Editor:
Re “Say it ain’t so Joe (Jr.)!” (Mixed Use, July 8):

Joe Jr. is gone. One day I’m eating my tuna on toast with lettuce and tomato, pickle, no coleslaw, coffee to go, and now it’s gone, closed, no goodbye.

The chicken soup had fresh dill. They knew what I ate for lunch, didn’t even give me a menu. Once or twice I surprised them and asked for soup and a toasted corn muffin. I ate there every week when I was in law school. Chicken salad on toasted rye with lettuce and tomato. Once or twice, grilled cheese with tomato. 

Michael and I ate there when we were just a couple, not even married yet. We ate cheeseburgers. Most recently, I took Michele and Dan, two of our children, there. We had a lovely lunch. Dan had a tuna melt, a classic, and he ate only half. (Guess who ate the rest — not Michele.) 

One New Year’s Eve, Michael and I enjoyed pizza and a movie out with dear friend who went home before midnight.

But I had to have a milkshake so Michael and I went to Joe Jr. The place was decorated with streamers and balloons. The booths were filled with diners in dress-up clothes and hats. We sat at the counter. The shakes were delicious and the mood was festive. I will miss Joe Jr.

Liza Mirisola

Top designers back F.S.C.

To The Editor:
Re “Rainforest activists: High Line wood a ‘pour’ choice” (news article, July 8):

 I was curious about Laurie Mittelmann’s article on rainforest activists who accuse the High Line folks of “High Crimes on the High Line” for their use of ipê wood from rainforests. Mittelman notes that the High Line uses wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The purpose of the Forest Stewardship Council is to enforce standards of forest management while advocating for the rights of indigenous people.

F.S.C. wood is currently featured in the Cooper-Hewitt’s exhibition “Design for a Living World.” The show is co-sponsored by the Nature Conservancy, which has identified 10 ecologically fragile areas from Micronesia to Maine often threatened by deforestation. Together with the Cooper-Hewitt — whose exhibit features internationally renowned designers, such as Maya Lin, Abbott Miller and Ezri Tarazi — the conservancy argues for the use of F.S.C. wood in promoting viable micro-economies.

Seems to me that the High Line designers, in choosing F.S.C. wood for the High Line, voted for ecological sustainability and cutting-edge design as  advocated by the Nature Conservancy and featured at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

Renee Feinberg

F.S.C. is pulp fiction

To The Editor:
Re “Rainforest activisits: High Line wood a ‘pour’ choice” (news article, July 8):

Great article! I looked up the Forest Stewardship Council. How can they defend industrially logging old-growth forests as somehow ecological? That some “major environmental organizations” support this charade is an embarrassment. 

I found the FSC-Watch site that was mentioned by the reporter: www.fsc-watch.org. It has lots of information about why F.S.C. should be closed down.

As a member of the Sierra Club and a (former) supporter of Rainforest Action Network, I am ashamed. In fact, I’m going to call the Sierra Club today to let them know I’ll no longer support them if they remain a supporter of F.S.C.

Maria Senilla 

The ‘Enron of forestry’

To The Editor:
Re “Rainforest activists: High Line wood a ‘pour’ choice” (news article, July 8):

Simon Counsell, a founding member of the Forest Stewardship Council in 1993, became so concerned about the constant erosion of F.S.C.’s reliability that he went on to found www.fsc-watch.org, which seeks to watchdog F.S.C. and encourage debate about its practices. 

Counsell states that F.S.C. has created a “‘race to the bottom’ of certification standards,” alleging that “F.S.C. really has become the ‘Enron of forestry.’”

Counsell believes that many of F.S.C.’s drawbacks are due to its tendency to look at each individual logging operation as a separate entity while ignoring the big picture of what industrial logging is doing to rainforest ecology. 

“Whilst a logging concession might appear to be ‘sustainable’ at this small-scale level, the whole development model that accompanies industrial logging concessions might be highly non-sustainable and destructive,” Counsell says.

He continues with examples from the Amazon and Indonesia: “Research in the Amazon has shown that, over a period of years, commercial logging greatly increases the overall propensity of the forest to dry out, burn and disappear. This happens regardless of whether the logged areas are certified or not.” 

For more information, visit Rainforests-OfNewYork.org .

Tim Doody

Stonewall exposé was bien 

To The Editor:
Re “Figuring out the real riots veterans has been a battle” (Gay Pride section article, June 24):

For someone to “out” a gay is formidable! Merci, for the historic article by Warren Allen Smith.

Francois Arouet

Concerns grow over N.Y.U.

To The Editor:
Re “Two hundred turn out to try to head off N.Y.U. growth” (news article, July 1):

Thank you to The Villager for your extensive coverage of the community open forum on New York University’s Plans 2031. As the article correctly states, there is tremendous concern in the community about N.Y.U.’s plan, which could result in as much as a doubling of its rate of growth in our neighborhoods as compared to the last several decades. 

However, even slower growth by the university still means more and more of the neighborhood being given over to a single institution that has already consumed so much of the Village, East Village, Noho and Union Square areas. And yet, alternatives to N.Y.U.’s unceasing growth in our neighborhoods was supposed to be a primary focus of the “planning principles” to which N.Y.U. agreed, and must be pursued.

Additionally, while the article did note that the open forum was sponsored by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and the Greenwich Village Block Associations, I must note that it was also sponsored by the Bleecker Area Merchants’ and Residents’ Association, the Coalition to Save the East Village, the E. 10th St. Block Association, Friends of Noho, the Greenwich Village Community Task Force, the St. Ann’s Committee, the Washington Place Block Association, the Washington Square/Lower Fifth Ave. Block Association, the Washington Square Village Tenants Association and the boards of 505 LaGuardia Place, 77 Bleecker St. and 88 Bleecker St., illustrating just how broad this concern is.

Andrew Berman
Berman is executive director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

Partial St. Pat’s victory

To The Editor:
Re “Time to remove 25 years of barricades in New York” (talking point, by Tim Gay, July 1):

I want to thank Tim Gay for his excellent open letter to Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Tim vividly evokes the days when the gay Catholic group Dignity released balloons on the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral during New York’s annual Lesbian and Gay Pride March. Sadly, as Tim notes, this joyful custom was halted during the tenure of Cardinal John J. O’Connor.

But Dignity still has a presence at the cathedral during the Pride March — Tim must have missed us.  In a 1985 federal court decision that was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, the legendary Judge Constance Baker Motley ordered the city and the police to work out a plan that gave Dignity “reasonable” access to the cathedral. Every year since then, 25 Dignity members have been allowed to stand in front of the cathedral and cheer for half an hour toward the beginning of the march.

This is not the full access we would like, and the militarized atmosphere is a disgrace, especially in contrast to the other churches that give out water to the marchers. But we are proud of our legal victory, and of our 40 years of advocacy for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the Catholic Church and in society.
Jeff Stone
Stone is secretary, Dignity/New York

Landmarks hypocrisy

To The Editor:
In relation to St. Vincent’s Hospital, why is it that an organization calling itself the Landmarks Preservation Commission is encouraging destruction of our entire neighborhood, including Federal-era, antique brownstones that are a major factor of New York and Greenwich Village history? Why are they insisting on “working this out,” pursuing something so terrible? I, for one, am vociferously opposed! 

I am a longtime, 20-plus-year resident, lifetime New Yorker, and I know what I am talking about. And to call themselves Landmark, doing this destruction or agreeing to it, is hypocrisy on their part! They’re misnamed if they believe in doing this to us all! 

Joanna Roos 

Ground Zero summit

To The Editor:
Re “Break W.T.C. stalemate” (editorial, June 24):

What Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Silver deserve credit for is drawing attention to the problem. The time has come for the future of Ground Zero to be decided at a national summit.

M.L. Donovan

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