Volume 79, Number 15 | September 16 - 22, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Pets, parks and Quinn

To The Editor:
Re “Christine Quinn for City Council in Third District” (editorial, Sept. 2):

I was surprised at your editorial about Christine Quinn. For instance, you say: “Quinn delivers for her district in many ways, very notably on tenant issues.”

As Council speaker, Quinn has prevented the “Pets in Housing” amendment from reaching the Council floor for a vote three times, thus forcing many, including the elderly, to live without the companionship and health benefits that science proves pets provide. How cruel. Whose benefit is she looking out for?

   Also: “Under Quinn, the district has enjoyed a golden era for parks.” Quinn spoiled our one chance to add a much-needed, real park at Gansevoort Peninsula — not a parkway where one cannot get away from the sound of traffic or walk in a grove of trees. The excuse was that each neighborhood needs to be responsible for its own waste, but the entire world comes to the Village. After a typical weekend, I cannot use a street-corner trash can because it has been filled to capacity by visitors. Downtown is sorely lacking in parks, especially with the incredible number of new residences.

Quinn’s constituents clearly want term limits. Too bad Quinn doesn’t say, “Go back to the community,” like Yetta. But Quinn doesn’t care what the community wants if it interferes with her interest.

I met with Yetta about the unmet needs of the many dog owners in our community and found her to be very quick and approachable — she got it right away.

Lynn Pacifico

Wall blocks park access

To The Editor:
Re “Christine Quinn for City Council in Third District” (editorial, Sept. 2):

O.K., so you have endorsed Christine Quinn, the incumbent, running for a third term in the Third District Council. And she’ll probably win. But one thing both her opponents seem to get far better than she does is the importance of the Sanitation garage issue to a fair chunk of the Downtown community. To put it as simply as I can:

The city has given us a beautiful new stretch of Hudson River Park, a joy to visit. But at present there is no access to that park between Houston St. and Canal St. Masonry walls reach the entire distance between two subway stops, blocking off all of Hudson Square and all of Soho from the park. Traveling either uptown or downtown, then west, to approach the park is fine for cyclists, skaters, runners and all who welcome extra exercise. But what about older residents, who might like to sit on a bench and watch the boats go by? Or out-of-town visitors? (Hudson Square is rapidly filling with hotels.) Or the many Soho and Hudson Square workers who might like to eat lunch in the lovely park but have limited time?

It’s literally now or never for correcting the mistakes of the past. It is now that the future of Pier 40 and of the Sanitation garage is being decided. And right now the St. John’s behemoth — privately owned, I gather — seems to lack a primary tenant and might be made (forced?) to see reason. It’s not exactly invoking rocket science to insist on architectural plans that would include, at minimum, tunnels — like the one on Houston St. — to let the public through to the river. I don’t expect a riverfront miracle, like that of Barcelona, though the Hudson River Park is pretty miraculous already. But a little common sense in planning wouldn’t hurt.

Alice K. Turner

Cold-shoulder treatment

To The Editor:
Re “Tenants move out at 47 E. 3rd, and so does landlord — or not?” (news article, Sept. 2):

The community will watch them carefully to see if they are renting out any part of the building. On behalf of the entire neighborhood, I really want to stress to the Economakis family how unwelcome they are. Don’t expect people to smile at you on the street. 

Quinn Raymond

N.Y.U. flouts its principles

To The Editor:
Re “Task force and Stringer hit the roof over Playhouse wall” (news article, Sept. 9):

New York University has indeed done it again — violating a promise it made to the public to preserve in perpetuity the structural walls of the small theater portion of the Provincetown Playhouse and Apartments building it demolished at 133-139 MacDougal St.

But the issue extends far beyond a mere “gap in communication,” as the university has characterized it. As it has done so many times before, N.Y.U. has made another promise that it was either unwilling or unable to keep.

In the coming months, N.Y.U. will be putting the finishing touches on its N.Y.U. Plans 2031, a blueprint for its massive growth and expansion over the next 22 years. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, as a member of the Borough President’s Task Force on N.Y.U. Development, signed a set of “planning principles” with N.Y.U. that were supposed to guide that plan. Under these principles, the understanding was that priority would be given to finding sites outside the Village for N.Y.U.’s future expansion, and for reusing existing buildings, rather than demolishing and building anew. Since it has signed those principles, N.Y.U.’s projects have focused almost exclusively on demolition and new development within the Village.

G.V.S.H.P., the Greenwich Village Block Associations and a broad coalition of community groups held a public forum in June attended by more than 250 people focused on getting N.Y.U. to abide by its commitments to find alternative locations for new development and preserving, rather than destroying, buildings in our neighborhood. This latest episode with the Provincetown Playhouse demonstrates why it is so critical that we all join together in demanding that this approach be the focus of the university’s plans for the future.

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

Illegal turns, hand trucks

To The Editor:
Re “Grand St. bike lane is a hell on wheels, local seniors say” (news article, Aug. 26):

It’s too bad Alan Gerson didn’t hold his press conference at the busy intersection of Grand St. and Bowery. It might have brought attention to one of the hazardous conditions that has resulted from the reconfiguration of Grand St.

Many drivers have been ignoring the new signs that prohibit turns at this intersection. They don’t seem to care that they are holding up traffic as they wait for crowded crosswalks to clear. Even with sirens blaring behind them, they appear oblivious to the potential danger they are causing now that Grand St. has only one travel lane. The Department of Transportation provided no enforcement, and a traffic agent at Bowery and Delancey St. speculated that there are “not enough agents to go around.” At the same time, there are generally two, sometimes three, agents at that location. It’s only two blocks from Grand St., but it feels like a parallel universe.

Another traffic hazard — seen in the photograph accompanying the article — is the use of motorized hand trucks to deliver merchandise. This is the result of an extensive network of produce wholesalers who have turned the area into another Hunts Point Terminal Market. Operating in a commercial district is a zoning violation, and your photograph clearly illustrates why they shouldn’t be here — their pallet lifts, designed to operate in a warehouse or loading dock, are now traveling along our streets.

When operators ride these conveyances they cease to be “hand” trucks and become motor vehicles instead, subject to traffic laws just like bicycles. If the use of non-motorized hand trucks is regulated by the city’s Administrative Code, why are the big motorized ones allowed to weave in and out of traffic — often in the wrong direction — and frequently in the bike lane?  Where are the cops?  

Politicians will do what they must to score political points, but even the best laws are worthless if they’re not enforced. 

Cathy Glasson

Déjà vu for small stores

To The Editor:
Re “Commercial rent regulation bill is stuck in limbo” (news article, Sept. 9):

My initial response to Patrick Hedlund’s article was to write a long history about the effort to get commercial rent control some 20 years ago. It would have told about the creation of the Small Business Task Force to stop the epidemic of small businesses that were closing their doors because of skyrocketing rents then, and how the effort got sandbagged because the state said the city had to pass legislation first, and the city said the state had to pass enabling legislation first. In short, the city and state prevented anything from happening. 

Nothing has changed since. The bottom line is that there will be no meaningful commercial rent protection as long as our elected officials — all of them — continue to accept large contributions from landlords and developers, and as long as tenants and labor continue to fail to organize into a large enough force to get the attention of these officials. 

Susan Leelike

Soho domino effect

To The Editor:
In 2004, 74 Grand St. was condemned. The reason: 72 Grand St. had been taken down illegally — because of a supposed liquor license squabble — and the foundation was not filled in. As a result, a deluge caused water seepage below 74 Grand St., causing the building to lean 4 inches west. All the tenants were forced to evacuate. 

One tenant, who had paid $1.5 million for her loft, never even got to sleep in it! The abandoned building is now a magnet for rats, garbage and homeless people. The sidewalk is cracked and treacherous.

On Sept. 22 at 9:30 a.m., the Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold a meeting at 1 Centre St. on the ninth floor to discuss the demolition of the building. The meeting has not been publicized in the least.

It is important that people know about this. The illegal demolition of 72 Grand has caused not only one building to lean westward, but others as well. If the new demolition isn’t done correctly, the famous Deitch Gallery, as well as my home, will be threatened.

I write you this in the hopes that if there is publicity about what is going on, nothing illegal will take place and the demolition will be done legally.

Jessica Soffer

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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