Volume 79, Number 42 | March 24 - 30, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Letters to the Editor

Pier 40 as punch line?

To The Editor:
Re “Pier 40 plans?” (Scoopy’s Notebook, March 17):

I never realized that The Villager was in the comedy business, but after reading Scoopy’s Notebook regarding turning Pier 40 into a Greenmarket, it convinced me otherwise. Who would travel to the far reaches of Hudson Square in anything but ideal weather to pick up a cupcake at $3 a pop?

Capsis must have taken a poll of very few Village residents, because I know there are other places one can buy Greenmarket-type goods without traveling all the way to the pier. 

He also talks about the pier being used by private school soccer players: “When you think about it, you have a handful of people on the field — [but] you have thousands of people in the West Village.” 

Those thousands have children that use the fields every weekend. Mr. Capsis, take a walk over there on a weekend after Greenwich Village Little League opening day and take a look, and take a poll to see how many of those kids go to private school. My son went to Stuyvesant. I believe it’s a public school.

Capsis stated, “They were bused in! Bused in, literally!” Might I ask, “The people who will be coming to the Greenmarket are they going to be bused in, literally, or will they be coming by car or taxi?” 

To quote Scoopy describing Capsis’s plan: “A Greenmarket would have almost no cost...to set up and operate, while it would generate some, but probably not much, revenue for the park: Each vendor would pay a $75 daily fee...[and] the people actually selling the produce could be local residents, an added attraction at a time when many are struggling to find work.” 

Wow! With that kind of income, the Hudson River Park Trust could rebuild Pier 40 in no time, and I’m sure there are many in the area who want to sit around all weekend selling apples and grapes from Guatemala. The Trust keeps talking about thinking outside the box to solve its economic problems. Here is a thought that it never wants to hear: Keep the Department of Sanitation facility on Gansevoort Peninsula where it is, and charge the city for using the peninsula. The city then will not have to build its $750  million garbage garage on Spring St. and the Trust will have guaranteed income.
Lou Scrima

Pier stadium: Dare to dream

To The Editor:
Re “Pier 40 plans?” (Scoopy’s Notebook, March 17):

Sometimes dreams and action get results. Part of the reason I wrote that soccer plan — which includes  a Greenmarket and parking, as well as other agreed-upon neighborhood priorities — was because, like everyone else, I’ve grown weary of the lack of execution, and with one exception, complete lack of neighborhood-generated plans regarding Pier 40. No thoughtful plan should be called “preposterous” in this climate of failure. 

The issue is less that a stadium be sometimes available to the public than it is the amount of always-usable public space being created, and that there is, while admittedly difficult, an actual revenue-generating plan behind it. And that this is done in complete control of the Trust and not some Related-like developer. 

That blog post of mine that Scoopy referred to was written for the soccer community. I have a shorter, plan-specific, two-pager I’ll send to anyone willing to look. At this point, anyone saying “no” to everything should do so with a credible, or even wild, alternative like mine in hand. The days of putting off a solution at Pier 40 have to end. It’s already become an embarrassment. That a process including Related (Related, are you kidding?) got as far as it did, and that other dreams are mocked, says a lot about the wide gap between what this neighborhood demands, and what it is prepared to do to back it up. 

Those interested in seeing the shorter version of my plan can e-mail me at prat@msn.com, and I’ll send back a PDF. When you hear “stadium,” don’t think Jets. This is an entirely different beast.

One last thing, please don’t place me in the middle of some petty Village newspapers dispute. I have one goal: Complete Pier 40 in a way that creates public space for our neighborhood and has revenues to back it up, in a manner satisfactory to the Trust.
Patrick Shields 

N.Y.U. blog is bad news

To The Editor:
Re “New blog on block as N.Y.U., Times team to get hyper” (news article, March 17):

John Penley is an a--hole. But, he is an L.E.S. a--hole. I dare N.Y.U. to post stats on how many minorities other than Asians attend the university and live in its dorms in the L.E.S. 

Yeah, I am white about 85 percent, and I moved to the L.E.S. 35 years ago. N.Y.U. students, who are mostly all white, have flooded the neighborhood because of out-of-control dorm expansion, and they will stay for four years and then most of them will leave. There is a big difference. 

If this blog sells ads, it will be in competition with The Villager and may cause us to lose another valuable resource, like all the small stores that lost their leases when large N.Y.U. dorms were put on their blocks.

My advice to N.Y.U. journalism students: The New York Times will not hire you, or you will become an exploited freelancer at low pay and with no healthcare. Change your major to something that might get you a job!
John Penley

Blog will have its place

To The Editor:
Re “New blog on the block as N.Y.U., Times team to get hyper” (news article, March 17):

You know, when I was a student (not at N.Y.U. — what a rip-off that tuition is), I did not identify with my school’s administration. Hell, I led battles against them. It’s weird to identify the student or the academic programs with the school administration or its policies or its sheer existence here itself. 

We’re angry, but I think that’s misplaced anger, and I’ll tell you why I think so: N.Y.U. students are not the yunnies (young urban narcissists — Jeremiah’s word) that file into this neighborhood either to live or play, with no understanding or care for this place, and have an unbelievable sense of entitlement. One such yunnie in my building, for example, testified against a single mother, resulting in  the eviction of her and her family, simply because this yunnie didn’t like the wino who occasionally visited her. Spit.

I’ve known lots of N.Y.U. students — they’re everywhere — and they’re intellectually lively, curious about the neighborhood, and quick to understand that they and their institution are responsible for gentrification. Yes, they have, as an overwhelming demographic, wildly sped up the gentrification here, but that’s not the fault of the students — it’s the fault of their university. 

I can understand that our brilliant, beautiful bloggers are worried that N.Y.U./New York Times will eclipse their work. I am amused to see them so underrate themselves. No rootless student effort, no matter how powerful an engine behind them, will replace the deep voice of rooted blogs in the East Village. 

I predict N.Y.U./N.Y.T. will find a place for a kind of feature coverage useful to the public, but it will always be a choir of children. The mature will continue to seek the authentic voice of the neighborhood. I hope that the students and their online project will refer and link to the blogs, because if they don’t mention and cover them, then they’re missing a crucial part of our neighborhood — the long voices of this place.
Rob Hollander

Save the next Joe Jr.

To The Editor:
Re “Joe Jr. was a restaurant with that extra-special flavor” (notebook, by Ed Gold, March 17):

Like Ed Gold, I’ll miss the Village’s Joe Jr. restaurant. “Regular Guy New York,” as Spy magazine once celebrated, is evaporating as we become an ersatz-authentic, pied-a-terre playground for the internationally super-wealthy.

But Gold’s supposed curse — “that the landlord who tossed them and did not consider their value in the community will be stuck with a ‘Store For Rent’ sign forever” — is not a curse but a blessing for the landlord and a blight for our Village.

As I understand it, landlords write off their vacant commercial units’ lost income dollar for dollar, or maybe more, since they are based on locally assessed rates set by the city’s assessors. While landlords enjoy a tax break for shuttering community treasures, they patiently wait to double, quintuple, octuple the old shuttered mom-and-pop store’s rent.  We are approaching the sixth anniversary of Zito’s Bakery closing on Bleecker St. That location should be perfect for a cell-phone store. 

We need commercial real estate tax reform so that kicking out the small business, keeping the unit vacant for years until maybe Walgreens or Starbucks moves in, is no longer incentivized by New York City and New York State real estate tax policy. Commercial rent control is barking up the wrong tree.  

Mr. Gold mentions three judges in his op-ed; maybe some of them can get a real estate law firm to do pro-bono policy development to save our neighborhoods in a way that landlords can live with.  Then send the drafts over to the goo-goos (good-government groups), grassroots organizers, industry associations and caring, smart and effective representatives, like Rosie Mendez and Daniel Squadron, to hold some hearings, develop legislation and get it passed. 

I’ve seen it happen before in this town, the grassroots getting involved in tax policy and getting the City Council and the state Legislature to save affordable housing. Now let’s preserve affordable store rents.
Jared Goldstein

Scares were Trumped up

To The Editor:
Re: NYCHA bonds-’n’-banks deal means millions for projects” (news article, March 17):

What does it mean when the federal government states the New York City Housing Authority will continue to own the land and manage these 21 developments under this agreement? What does it mean that the residents of these 21 developments will continue to have all of their rights and protections? What does it mean when the chairperson of NYCHA states that this housing will remain low income for the future? What does it mean when this agreement will allow for capital improvements, like new roofs, pointing and elevators?

It means that nonprofit organizations, such as GOLES, can no longer use the privatization of NYCHA developments as a scare tactic to pack a meeting hall every time there is a Democratic primary election. Time and time again, GOLES has produced, circulated and posted fliers in the lobbies of NYCHA developments along Avenue D and Columbia St. without giving any thought to what effect these fliers have on the well-being of these public housing residents.

One of the fliers that GOLES circulated, for example, stated that Donald Trump was going to purchase the Lower East Side public housing developments. If you were a senior citizen, wouldn’t you be worried? As outrageous as this flier sounded, GOLES was able to pack the multipurpose room at the Grand St. Settlement with public housing residents, especially the senior citizens, who were scared at the thought of losing their apartments.

When GOLES convenes these meetings, it should be with the intent of bringing NYCHA officials together to dispel these privatization rumors, not to aid the re-election efforts of Congressmember Nydia Velazquez and City Councilmember Rosie Mendez. When Velazquez and Mendez get up on the podium and state that these rumors are false and they are going to do everything in their power to protect NYCHA residents from the Trump takeover of public housing, who are they kidding? 

GOLES should publicly disclose what its relationship is with these two elected officials when it comes to the funding that it receives and the manner in which it aids in their re-election efforts. How much pork, a.k.a. discretionary funds, does GOLES actually receive from Mendez each year? GOLES has been gorging on pork since former City Councilmember Lopez’s move to NYCHA. And now with Mendez chairing the City Council Committee on Public Housing, and getting paid for it, this must be one huge banquet with a lot of gravy to go around.     
Roberto Caballero

Protecting the Bowery

To The Editor:
Re “Bowery history and height limits top the bill at civic groups forum” (news article, March 17):

Luc Sante calls the Bowery “one of the great American streets, as charged with historical significance as Beale Street in Memphis or Basin Street in New Orleans.”

Vaudeville historian Trav S.D. calls the Bowery “the cradle of American entertainment.” Vaudeville, Yiddish theater, minstrel shows, tap dance and our first two great songwriters, Stephen Foster and Irving Berlin, all started out there. 

In more recent times, the Bowery has been home to some of our most iconoclastic writers, painters, photographers, filmmakers and musicians. The Bowery’s colorful history and low-rise character are part of what business leaders Keith McNally, John Varvatos, Daniel Boulud and Green Depot owner Sarah Beatty say attracted them to it. Businesses, community groups, cultural institutions, individuals and politicians have sent scores of letters urging City Planning to extend to the Bowery’s east side the same low-rise zoning that protects its west side.

Ferocious overdevelopment is rapidly displacing the Bowery’s longtime residents, small businesses, cultural institutions — such as CBGB — and historically significant buildings.

The hotel boom has also seen mass evictions, such as 60 working-class tenants forced out when the 91 Bowery hotel construction site willfully destabilized adjacent buildings.

The current administration did not create the zoning on the Bowery’s east side, but it could easily change it. We challenge administration officials to walk the length of the Bowery and Cooper Square and judge for themselves which zoning most successfully blends with and enhances the community’s character, historic sense of place and future economic best interests: the west side, protected by 85-foot height caps, or the sky’s-the-limit east side?

A few corrections: Planning Chairperson Burden did not say she would “consider” the East Bowery Preservation Plan, but did agree to continue a dialogue on the issue.

Also, Margaret Chin did not attend the Dec. 15 meeting, but urged Burden by letter last year to protect the Bowery’s “historical integrity” from “gigantic high-rise hotels and condos,” which, she said, “create midblock eyesores and ruin the flow and feel of the area.” Making the Bowery “a playground for developers,” Chin wrote, “is pushing out local residents, many of whom have lived in the area for decades and cannot afford to move into newer, more expensive housing.”

Finally, former Landmarks Preservation Commissioner Kent Barwick is involved as a concerned neighbor and Bowery aficionado, not as a representative of the Municipal Art Society.
David Mulkins
Mulkins is chairperson and co-founder, Bowery Alliance of Neighbors (BAN)

Brain injury: Think about it

To The Editor:
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. I’ve tackled the ongoing daily challenges of my own traumatic brain injury for almost 13 years now. My injury has also been the subject of various media reports since 1999 because it was caused by Con Edison’s so-called “stray voltage.” Most reports have contained significant and disturbing inaccuracies. Professionals and the public at large need to more carefully educate themselves about T.B.I. in order to improve prevention and care for this devastating, complex menace.

To help raise T.B.I. awareness, caring citizens could contact legislators to support urgent reform in this matter. That would be greatly appreciated by people with, or vulnerable to, T.B.I. — in other words, everyone.
Phil Vanaria

Parochial schools in limbo

To The Editor:
Re “Catholic school parents, pupils fight closure plan” (news article, March 17):

Finally, an evenhanded article about what’s happening with St. James and Old St. Patrick’s schools. 

I’m glad that comments from Stephanie Pinto have been included. This community activist has put in many hours defining the problem, analyzing it and explaining it to everyone who needs to hear it in a coherent manner, packaged with rational and well-thought-out solutions. 

For example, Pinto asserts that there are limitations to integrating St. James and St. Josephs without taking into account the building structure of St. Joseph’s. She has been able to communicate to the archdiocese that there is a need to find space — so that a true merger can happen with St. Joseph that will include the younger preschool children. 
Roberto Ramos
Ramos is a St. James School graduate, class of ’69

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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