Volume 80, Number 1 | June 2-8, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Road map to new hospital

To The Editor:
Re “Giving birth to a new hospital wouldn’t be easy, experts say” (news article, May 26):

Tom Duane’s panel offered a virtual road map for those committed to a new hospital. It was a priceless opportunity to identify the obstacles and objections, so that a realistic plan of action can be crafted by those who recognize that this community requires a hospital facility and nothing less.

Those most active in fighting for a hospital must join forces — including leaders like Yetta Kurland, Miguel Acevedo and Eileen Dunn. Then they can present a responsible, but relentless, force.

Each objection raised must be honored, researched and responded to without sacrificing momentum and opportunity. Without establishing the medical need and sufficient market opportunity, there is no room for a hospital.

Without a building, it will be enormously more difficult to get it done. How do we preserve one of the hospital’s current buildings?

Finally and perhaps most important is the need for a partner/owner, whether it is Mt. Sinai or another. With the right partner, the Lower West Side can secure a medical center that not only meets the community’s health needs, but in fact generates revenue.
Steven Greene

West Side is left at risk

To The Editor:
Re “Hospital hopes versus realities” (editorial, May 26):

The people on the panel with me on Fri., May 21, were there with their own agendas. I can understand that, to an extent. Everyone wants his or her own hospital to survive. What this editorial is missing — and what many people are missing — is the fact that the Berger Commission saw a need for a hospital to exist on the Lower West Side. As for the new fantasy hospital, even the nurses knew it wouldn’t happen. Commissioner Daines of the state Department of Health, in a Daily News article, stated that there is money to be made where the old St. Vincent’s Hospital was located. That was after he killed the deal with Mt. Sinai.

There are at least eight hospitals on the East Side, none on the West Side below 59th St. Don’t the people on the Lower West Side deserve the same consideration for their health and safety as East Siders? We continually lost beds during the 24 years that I worked at St. Vincent’s. We closed floors as the Department of Health told us needed to be done. This has been done all over the city at one time or another. That is the fair way. Staff is lost by all and hopefully by attrition. Done this way, not just one hospital takes a big hit — they all lose beds, and the hospitals in all areas stay open. No one area is left vulnerable to disasters, disease and any other health crisis, e.g. H1N1.

St. Vincent’s debt from years of mismanagement will be addressed in bankruptcy court. A deal could have been worked out with a partner (stalking-horse bidder) as is done all the time with distressed properties. I didn’t take Bankruptcy 101 in nursing school but have learned much during the past stressful year.

It didn’t have to come to the West Side losing a hospital completely. It was a well-orchestrated process that took many years to complete. To those who pulled the plug on St. Vincent’s — congratulations, you succeeded. But shame on you for leaving a very large population unsafe and pleading for someone to give them what they deserve, a full-service hospital on the Lower West Side.
Eileen Dunn
Dunn is a board of directors member, New York State Nurses Association

Hospital’s religious roots

To The Editor:
Re “Hospital hopes versus realities” (editorial, May 26):

It was an excellent editorial!!!

St. Vincent’s was not just a “Catholic hospital.” It was the result of a living legacy left to the Sisters of Charity of New York by America’s first native-born, canonized saint — who just happened to be an Episcopalian convert, wife and mother of five.

The calling of the Sisters of Charity was education and orphanages. The New York Foundling Hospital is actually the last Catholic hospital in New York, still up and running, at 590 Avenue of Americas.

St. Vincent’s Hospital was established via the order of Bishop Dubois. He began his attempt for this facility 13 years before its foundation by traveling to Orleans, France, to get the O.K. from those in charge of the living legacy of St. Vincent de Paul, the hospital’s namesake.

St. Vincent’s Hospital is gone and there will never and can never be another. She was a gift from God via faith by the people, of the people and for the people of New York.

St. Vincent’s Hospital was not, as your editorial said, built “to a certain extent” on faith. She was built totally on faith. And now our faith is in Bloomberg and Daines, and may God help us and have mercy on us all.

Actually, we really have done this to ourselves. We had a treasure and a gift and assumed it was a right. It’s not and never was. However, healthcare and homeland security are, so we’ll see what our elected officials have in store for us all!
Penelope Carter

Darn dome…mounds delay

To The Editor:
Congratulations on having scooped The New York Times by two days with the “Playground dome too hot to handle” article by Albert Amateau (May 26). I understand the frustration of Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates and frequent critic of the redesign of the north end of Union Square Park, who referred to children falling off steps backward and the Parks Department using untested playground equipment.

I’m vice president of LMNOP (Lower Manhattan Neighbors Organization for Parks and Playgrounds). When I took my grandchildren to the new Union Square playground, for the only time, I was disappointed that it really didn’t work for my grandsons, ages 6 and 12. There was no flow to the pieces. There were individual-activity pieces that, once played on, did not inspire creative games, as the Washington Square Park mounds, with their strategically placed accompanying climbers, had.

We went to Union Square Park in the winter when the dome was too cold to touch without gloves, which, in turn, made it too slippery to climb. I had occasion to ask the boys if they wanted to go to the Union Square playground again. Both, on different occasions, responded, “No thank you. It’s not much fun.” They’ve stopped asking when the new mounds will be done. (By the way, the old mounds’ rubbery surface did not get too hot in the sun.)

The Union Square playground does not seem to have a design. Conferring with Parks in 2003 about the redesign of Washington Square Park, LMNOP had already consulted with architects and playground equipment companies to find out what had worked safely in other parks and what had worked before in Washington Square. These ideas, to my knowledge, were not considered.

Since we had all raised children and grandchildren in these playgrounds, we were willing to and did put in a lot of time doing more research and “park talk.” Although the mounds are remaining as a part of Washington Square Park’s redesign, we had no input on what would accompany them; i.e. only one climber. I don’t count being presented with one design for one climber to vote on, after it’s been selected by Parks, as having input.

Last Sunday, after church, I took my grandsons to Washington Square Park’s northeast playground. They enjoy the sand and slides even with their age difference. It has flow on the climber on the west side by the sand. Since we had been told it would remain open until the playground in the park’s southwest quadrant was finished, we were surprised to find it closed.

Yes, Mr. Croft, I understand your frustration.
Kay Rogers

Rezoning’s ‘emperor’s clothes’

To The Editor:
Re “12-story cap is under review for 3rd, 4th Aves.” (news article, May 26):

Clearly, the Third and Fourth Aves. rezoning will not serve its purpose. The voluntary middle-income provision lacks incentive: It won’t be built. The 120-foot height cap will continue to encourage development, and the huge 57 percent increase in residential density will target every small old building for demolition — i.e. eviction — and redevelopment.

In the craze for contextual zoning, no one seems to understand that under the old zoning, huge overdeveloped towers were typically built by purchasing air rights from smaller buildings. Those smaller buildings, once having lost their development rights, have no room left to develop. That protects them and their tenants.

In the rezoning, the old commercial allowable floor space (6 F.A.R.) is unchanged. The 6.5 F.A.R. for community facilities (dormitories) is unchanged. The only change is the huge increase from 3.44 residential F.A.R. to 5.4, a whopping 57 percent increase. Instead of a few towers protecting their smaller neighbors, this rezoning will eventually replace every old building with 57 percent larger ones rising to 12 stories. This is an improvement? Who is benefiting besides developers and their minions?

The East Village/Lower East Side rezoning balanced upzoning with downzoning, development with preservation. But this Third and Fourth Aves. rezoning includes only upzoning, no downzoning, more development and zero preservation.

And the voluntary middle-income housing has no incentive: Developers get only an additional 5 percent market-rate space if they develop the 20 percent affordable units. Why would a developer build affordable housing just to get 5 percent more market-rate space when he just got 57 percent for free?
Rob Hollander

Crazy for Feldenkrais

To The Editor:
Re “Feldenkrais clinic is alternative-health hideaway” (Union Square special section, May 12):

Great article. Keep the word spreading. Speaking as a competitive martial artist, athlete and New York City fireman, nothing comes close to the benefits of the Feldenkrais Method. As a practitioner, it is so immensely rewarding to help clients achieve their true potentials.
Charles Velez

The straight poop on Ahnold

To The Editor:
Re “Activists say Arnold ‘terminating’ smelt and salmon” (news article, April 21):

I am the director of the California Ocean Outfall Group, a 501c(3) group located in Los Osos, Cal., and working on all water issues — particularly sewage waivers — throughout the state.

A 301(h) waiver is a “free pass” allowing municipal wastewater treatment plants to dump sewage into the ocean without meeting the minimum treatment requirements of the Clean Water Act — from 35 years ago! My organization has stopped all of these waivers in California, including Morro Bay and the giant Southern California discharger, O.C.S.D., the Orange County Sanitation District.

All except one, that is: The city of San Diego uses the state’s last 301(h) waiver to dump 50 billion gallons a year of only primary-treated sewage (basically, it’s a two-hour settling operation, God-awful filthy) from the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant.

A few months ago, the San Diego Union Tribune headlines screamed with joy that we had finally stopped the dumping. The press continued to scream, right up until Arnold Schwarzenegger called a special “rehearing” of the issue a month later at the California Coastal Commission. The commission, which had voted against yet another five-year waiver for San Diego by an 8-to-1 margin in August 2009, caved to Arnold’s pressure and overturned the vote. No new info, no explanation — all Arnold’s appointees just changed their votes.

It is worth noting that the dirty deed could not have happened without the approval of San Diego Coastkeeper Bruce Reznik, Surfrider San Diego Marco Gonzalez and the chairperson of Sierra Club San Diego Water Conservation. In a deal that gave them $2 million for bogus “studies,” these environmental watchdogs agreed not to oppose the waiver, and the dumping continues unabated. For more info see our Web site, Oceanoutfallgroup.com .
Joey Racano

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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