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

Talking Point

A ticket prompts a tirade on Soho’s truck troubles

By Carl Rosenstein

Re “Playground fascism?” (Scoopy’s Notebook, April 7):

Al Amateau’s piece on the summons I received in DeSalvio Playground is in need of elucidation. Unlike Washington Square, Tompkins Square or Sara Delano Roosevelt Park, which have playgrounds separate and apart from the greater parks, DeSalvio has always been a public space used by children of all ages.

Elderly Chinese do their tai chi and qigong in the mornings, young men play basketball and several hundred others sit on the benches throughout the day with and without children. This is because there are no parks anywhere in Soho, Little Italy or Chinatown north of Canal St. The long-awaited promise of Petrosino Park turned into a major disappointment. Not a park, this barren plaza is a pathetic piece of urban design. Eighteen benches set amidst a sprawl of paving blocks with no thought or effort to separate the plaza from clamorous Centre and Kenmare Sts. with shrubbery or fencing.

For two police cruisers, one from Manhattan South and the other from Truck Enforcement, to spend nearly a half-hour of their tour to check out my ID is outrageous, especially in light of the personnel cuts in the department. They should have just told me to leave. I never knew I was breaking any law. Turns out, there is a small mention on a sign outside the park, with 20 other regulations, about unaccompanied adults in the playground. I was actually there with my “inner child” but probably would have ended up in Bellevue if I said that to the cops.

The irony of my receiving a summons for drinking a cup of coffee by a trucking enforcement officer only added bitterness to my chilling experience in abuse of power no one should ever suffer. What is most disturbing is that the officer from Truck Enforcement told me that he was pulled off of this critical duty to enforce this park regulation.

In the 1990s through the early years of the last decade, my neighbors and I were extremely active in securing truck enforcement along Canal, Broome and Houston Sts. The one-way Verrazano Bridge toll enacted in 1986 prompted truckers to use the free East River bridges and outbound Holland Tunnel. Lower Manhattan has been betrayed and let down by every Democratic politician on this issue from Cuomo to Schumer to Clinton to Nadler — especially Nadler, who swore on a multitude of occasions, that once the Congress was in the hands of the Democrats that he would change the federal law in a committee that he chairs that regulates the Verrazano. Hello, Jerry, are your listening?

The 10,000 daily vehicular trips that avoid the bridge cost the M.T.A. approximately $20 million a year in lost revenue. With bus cuts in our district how can this outrage continue?

The dedicated trucking enforcement that we secured with the aggressive advocacy of former Councilmember Kathryn Freed helped stem the tide of overly long and overweight tractor-trailers that clog the streets, poison our air and too often kill pedestrians. Thousands of summonses were issued during her term.

However, as recently as 2008, in Chinatown, at Bowery and Canal, an overweight dump truck with faulty breaks barreled off the Manhattan Bridge and killed two pedestrians. It was most frustrating that Councilmember Alan Gerson in his eight years failed to sustain the hard-won enforcement earned by his predecessor.

Hopefully, newly elected Councilmember Margaret Chin, whose office I have already reached out to on the trucking issue, will demand a full restoration of trucking enforcement in her district. She must question Congressman Nadler as to why he has not changed the toll, and fast, because it’s apparent the Dems will be shunted out of power this November.

Chin must also make sure that the restriction in place at DeSalvio is removed, so no other community residents are criminalized for reading the morning paper. Improvements to Petrosino Park would also be appreciated.

 

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