Volume 79, Number 45 | April 14 - 20, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Pols failed on St. Vincent’s

To The Editor:
Re “St. Vincent’s pulls the plug; Historic hospital will close” (news article, April 7):

This is an open letter to all New York State and New York City politicians and the administration of St. Vincent’s Hospital: Your intention and voting to close down this 160-year-old West Village hospital is inexcusable, totally unacceptable! Outrageous!

You yourselves are indeed responsible because you did nothing to help!

Some of you have multibillions of dollars and, if you had any sense, any care, you could have assisted everybody with your unspent, unshared donations.

I happen to be a senior citizen with serious health issues, and were I to encounter (heaven forbid) a life-or-death emergency, which could happen, I would have to travel three to five miles all the way east to any of the other hospitals there, like N.Y.U. Medical Center, which is excellent but really is too far away.

We all know what happens if we should have a stroke or heart attack and cannot reach medical care immediately! 

Every one of you who is directly responsible should be very thoroughly ashamed of yourself! But, evidently, none of you politicos care about that.

I know what I am talking about, and seriously. I am a 72-year-old senior citizen homeowner and Village resident of 22 years. My home actually faces most of St. Vincent’s Hospital about three blocks north.

It is outrageous that you are throwing this hospital out, and all of us along with it! Shame on you! 
Joanna Roos

Beginning of the end?

To The Editor:
Re “St. Vincent’s pulls the plug; Historic hospital will close” (news article, April 7): 

I see us falling into becoming a Third World country.

Mr. Bloomberg’s first comment that I’ve ever heard regarding St. Vincent’s problems is that the Fire Department will take over the ambulance routes. And where are Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and, yes, Mr. President? Who will take care of the how many hundreds of thousands who live and/or work between Roosevelt Hospital and the Battery on the West Side in the event of the next attack that we keep hearing will occur? Just a matter of time they say.

They also say St. Vincent’s will now be forced to sell off its property. Huh? I guess now’s finally a good time for those condo builders to buy cheap without having to bargain.

Build more condos for more people, without the proper infrastructure, without an emergency room, without a hospital or schools. What about that, “Mr. Education Mayor”?

Anyone passed by the O’Toole building lately and seen all the office furniture being thrown away? And to think, they were going to build a “state-of-the-art hospital.”

As if things are not bad enough, now there is the report of the Section 8 deficit and perhaps 10,000 New York City Housing Authority residents losing their apartments. What’s next? Food riots?

Our leaders are silent.
Pamela L. La Bonne

Villager is partly to blame

To The Editor:
Re “St. Vincent’s pull the plug; Historic hospital will close” (news article, April 7):

The Village and Chelsea are losing their hospital. This, I believe, is partly due to newspapers like The Villager and Chelsea Now that consistently give voice — and no other — to not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) screamers who oppose any sort of development, good or bad. 

It is these selfish attitudes that have prevented St. Vincent’s from finding a solution to allow it to stay in the community.

It’s enough to make me sick.
Anthony Troncale

Editor’s note: For the record, The Villager’s editorial position was in support of the St. Vincent’s Hospital rebuilding project.

How about Bloomberg bucks?

To The Editor:
Re “St. Vincent’s pulls the plug; Historic hospital will close” and “N.Y.U. hopes to start building on superblocks within 2 years” (news articles, April 7): 

Some of my friends died of AIDS at St. Vincent’s and they were well cared for by the staff. Terry Taylor of Tompkins Square Park Tent City was one. Some of my friends were saved there, too. 

Bloomberg could personally bail this hospital out. This is a huge loss to the city, and I don’t know why our mayor for life is not catching hell about this. He is richer than most Third World countries.

Good reporting on N.Y.U. in the current issue. 
John Penley

N.Y.U. could save hospital

To The Editor: 
I am member of the N.Y.U. community as well as a subscriber to The Villager.

Has anyone suggested to President Sexton that N.Y.U. pay St. Vincent’s debt and keep the hospital that has served the community for 160 years?

This would save lives (there is no other hospital in the area), jobs (thousands of people face losing their positions) and goodwill.
Barbara Bova
Growth plan good, not great

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. hopes to start building on superblocks withinin 2 years” (news article, April 7):

If designed properly, the additional space that N.Y.U. is hoping to build for itself would actually be a great boon to Greenwich Village at large. By creating “more” Greenwich Village where there are now underdeveloped, anti-Village superblocks, it would help relieve the pressure for additional development in the parts of the Village that are already densely developed; and by bringing people to, by and through what are now deadening, obstacle-course superblocks, it would increase connectivity between and among the surrounding parts of the Village, Soho and Noho.

However, while the new plan seems to contain some very significant improvements over the plan that appeared to be favored in 2008, it still seems to be essentially one that just adds more towers to the park — rather than one that reintegrates the site into the surrounding Village and creates “more” Village. Adding a fourth tower to the pinwheel, for instance, would do little to add street-level commercial space that would shape and animate surrounding open spaces — and it would also make the existing superblock upon which it would be located even more of an obstruction by further blocking off north-south access through the site.

It’s one thing to want to create a “Rockefeller Center without ice skating,” but it’s another thing to understand how to actually do it. Rockefeller Center’s wonderful public spaces work precisely because they are small, “contained” and intensely utilized — and are not surrounded by wide-open spaces punctuated by suburban towers-in-a-park. And not only doesn’t Rockefeller Center diminish access through its site by blocking off a street with a tower, it actually cuts additional useful streets through its densely developed site.
Benjamin Hemric

Dog run is living large

To The Editor
Re “N.Y.U. hopes to start building on superblocks within 2 years” (news article, April 7):

Thank you for your coverage of N.Y.U.’s plans for expansion and development. As you know, Downtown community residents are very concerned about this. I couldn’t help but notice an unfortunate characterization I’d like to correct. 

The article reported that N.Y.U. Senior Vice President Lynne Brown commented that the university “had made the corner of East Houston and Mercer Sts. ‘a dead space,’ and...that, under the new plan, the university would be enlivening this spot for the community in the form of the new retail.” 

I understand that Ms. Brown was discussing retail development. However, the corner is far from a “dead space.” The Mercer-Houston Dog Run, which occupies the space, is truly a vibrant facet of our community of 200 families, and enjoyed by countless smiling passersby every day. 

In fact, I believe we’ve pretty well “cornered” the market on joyousness.
Beth Gottlieb
Gottlieb is president, Mercer-Houston Dog Run

Sweating gym rebuilding

To The Editor: 
Re “N.Y.U. hopes to start building on superblocks within 2 years” (news article, April 7):

It seems that New York University is hoping to start the next phase of its expansion-on-steroids — NYU 2031 — with the Coles gym site. Where will all the gym users — varsity teams, visiting tournament participants, Special Olympics athletes, undergrads, graduate students, community members, alumni, etc. — go during what will undoubtedly be several years of construction? Have any plans been announced?N.Y.U.’s gym at the Palladium dorm, aside from being inconveniently located, wouldn’t seem large enough to accommodate everyone.

In particular, Coles has been open to community members, drawn from a defined geographical area, who use the facilities during limited hours on the weekends and certain other times. This program was set up, I believe, as part of a compromise with the Village community at the time one or both of the superblocks were originally built, destroying many streets and buildings between W. Third and Houston Sts. What will happen to the community membership program during the demolition and rebuilding of Coles as part of the “zipper building” — assuming N.Y.U. follows through and does include a gym in the belowground portion of that building? And will the program continue once the new facility opens?

The community membership program was supposed to continue in perpetuity. If N.Y.U. wants the Greenwich Village community to remain open-minded about its NYU 2031 plans, it should, among other things, immediately confirm and clarify that the Coles community membership program will continue without interruption. The community should stand for nothing less, and city officials should require it.
Seth Atlas

McNally’s a real Bowery Boy

To The Editor:
Re “McNally does the Bowery” (Scoopy’s Notebook, April 7):

The suggestion that restaurateur Keith McNally is not a good Bowery neighbor is way off base. He’s actually proved to be one of the most generous and conscientious neighbors we have. He was the first businessman to write City Planning in support of the East Bowery Preservation Plan, and was a strong presence when we met with Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden last December.

With so much freakishly tall, out-of-context development on the street’s beleaguered east side (McNally calls it “an eyesore of ridiculous incongruence”), it was fortunate that the southwest corner of Bowery and Houston St. was not swallowed up by yet another Chase or Starbucks branch.

McNally’s restoration of Minetta Tavern was a gift to historic Greenwich Village, and Pulino’s similarly respects the past and offers a more responsible approach to the future.

As McNally has written, development “in as noted and distinctive an area as the Bowery [is] desirable only as long as it preserves the neighborhood’s character while enhancing its value.” Skyscrapers, he warned, “displace the very type of businesses and residents that constitute the Bowery’s main allure.”
David Mulkins
Mulkins is chairperson and co-founder, Bowery Alliance of Neighbors (BAN)

P.D.C., not C.P.C., O.K.?

To The Editor: 
Re “High Line rolls up numbers; Visitors top 2 million mark” (news article, April 7):

I am a former deputy executive director of the Department of City Planning, who retired after 39 years with D.C.P. last September. 

In your article about the High Line in the April 7 issue, you mention that Phil Arons was a member of the City Planning Commission. This is not correct. He was, however, president of the Public Development Corporation, the predecessor to the current Economic Development Corporation. 
Larry Parnes
Need firepower vs. squirrels

To The Editor:
Greetings and happy spring from the land of destruction by way of squirrel.  

My neighbors and I have been under attack for years, enduring costly property damage and misery. We just wanted to grow some plants, to be green!  The animals are not hungry, they are simply insane and destructive. I seriously fear that area businesses with back courtyards near Bull McCabe’s on St. Mark’s Place and near Cloister Cafe on E. Ninth St. will start to poison them if the insanity doesn’t stop.  

Does anyone know how to get in touch with Bernie Goetz? I think he might be the only solution here, and am sure area merchants would gladly chip in for said services — trapping and/or shooting! Nothing else has worked. Their only hope of survival just might be Tompkins Square Park.
Dottie Wilson

Steamed about bathhouse

To The Editor:
Re “Squadron presents Girls Club with big check for big project” (news article, April 7):

In 2005, the League of Women Voters sponsored a City Council candidates forum for District 2. Then-candidate Rosie Mendez stated at this debate that “it would cost $30 million to $40 million” to restore the Dr. Simon Baruch Bathhouse. This 110-year-old, historic, four-story bathhouse sit on two city-owned lots.

Yet the total cost of constructing the Lower Eastside Girls Club is $20 million from the ground up, and it sits on four vacant city-owned lots that could accommodate “several hundred girls.”

According to New York City Housing Authority, Bernard Baruch Houses has 1,800 kids that could potentially be served by the restoration of this bathhouse. Bernard Baruch Houses also has the highest crime rate of any NYCHA development within Police Service Area 4. In the case of the bathhouse, this building is not gender exclusive.

Do you honestly think that it would cost $30 million  to $40 million to restore a building that sits on two city-owned lots that could serve 1,800 kids? Do the math, Mendez: $20 million, new construction on four vacant lots and serving several hundred girls.

What is the real reason why Mendez refuses to restore this bathhouse to its original glory and provide a safe haven to these low-income kids? 
Roberto Caballero

Disabled will feel B39 cut

To The Editor:
I am a physically disabled wheelchair user residing in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

On June 27, the M.T.A. will eliminate the B39 bus route, which travels over the Williamsburg Bridge from Williamsburg to the Lower East Side. The B39 is the only interborough bus that operates 24 hours per day and on the weekend. The M.T.A. is advising people to use the M, J and Z subway lines to get over the Williamsburg Bridge. The M, J and Z lines make no stops in Manhattan at wheelchair-accessible stations! The B39 route is heavily utilized by wheelchair users.

Wheelchair users will have no choice but to use Access-A-Ride to get to and from Manhattan. Yet the M.T.A. wants to make cuts to Access-A-Ride because the agency claims the program is too expensive. 

Even those subway stations that are deemed wheelchair accessible are not at all user-friendly. Very few wheelchair users utilize the subway system, because it is not safe.

What are wheelchair users supposed to do?

Just because someone is physically disabled doesn’t mean he or she should sit home and die.
Anthony Trocchia

Nightmare at Simone

To The Editor: 
A friend and I went for dinner in what used to be a quiet little neighborhood place, Simone espresso and wine bar, at First Ave. and St. Mark’s Place.

We ordered tomato ginger soup, and my friend a glass of white wine. We ordered a sandwich to share.

After about 20 minutes the lights dimmed and the (what they called) music became very loud. So loud that we could not talk. I walked over to the empty bar and asked that the volume be lowered. It was — for perhaps two minutes — and then it blared. Again I walked to the bar and asked that the sound be lowered since we could not hear each other talk. When nothing happened, I asked that the sandwich be cancelled and to be given a check.

A few minutes later, the sandwich was brought to the table and for about 20 seconds the sound was reduced. Just enough time for us to take a bite before the sound was raised to an unacceptable level. 

What could one do? I asked for the check and told them they could keep the sandwich since we could not stay.

We were given the check and charged for the canceled sandwich. When we refused to pay for the sandwich the police were called.

The police suggested we pay the bill and take Simone to small claims court. I paid with a credit card and when I got home I called to cancel the disputed amount of the charge. I was informed that two charges had been placed on my card, neither one for the amount of the slip I received when I signed the disputed charge. 
Susan Leelike 

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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