Volume 80, Number 13 | August 26 - September 1, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Oh Jane, where are you?

To The Editor:
Re “Gardeners say city’s new rules will sow disaster” and “Groans as N.Y.U. pitches its plan; New mega-dorm in mix” (news articles, Aug. 12):

Here we go again! Neighborhood gardens are threatened, and N.Y.U.’s massive expansion plans wash over the Village. Community Board 2 holds public meetings, as do the Parks Department and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

The public outcry in opposition is intense. But where’s the mayor? Not a peep! Remember how Villagers protested the alteration of Washington Square Park? Public meetings, rallies, letters, fliers — all ignored by the powers that be. As a result, we now enjoy the “blandscape” that is the “new” Washington Square Park.

What we need is a new Jane Jacobs — a real organizer with vision, determination, drive and insight to fight and defeat the efforts of those who otherwise will continue to diminish the quality of life in our precious Village.
Vahe A. Tiryakian

Gardens need City’s support

To The Editor:
Re “Gardeners say city’s new rules will sow disaster” (news article, Aug. 12):

“In 1982 the M’Finda Kalunga Community Garden began as part of a group organizing to rid the Sara Roosevelt Park area of drugs and crime and to protect low-income housing in the neighborhood. Out of that effort we also created a garden almost a city block long… .”

This was the beginning of my testimony during the Aug. 10 hearing for the new “Proposed Rules for Parks/H.P.D. Gardens.” It’s the opening to a page-long catalogue of our achievements as an activist community garden of more than 30 years.

Some version of our story is reflected all over New York City in community gardens in every borough.

Our garden’s story is probably best illustrated by the work of Bob Humber, who has devoted his life to the protection of our environment — people and plants alike — for all of those 30-plus years. He began by risking his life doing bicycle patrols around S.D.R. Park. Once the drug dealers and pimps were driven off, he set his sights on creating a good place for young people to grow up in. Many, many children consider him their foster dad (granddad now). He has loved, coaxed, coached and fought with weeds, plants, children and adults in his quest to make this place the kind of world we all say we’d like to live in. He has not made a single dime doing this. Thirty years. No money. And he had to move out of our neighborhood due to the high cost of housing here. He still comes in every day, faithfully.

As our planet heads relentlessly toward the unknown of climate disruption, we need models of sustainable living now more than ever. More than ever, we need community gardens to show us another way — locally, painstakingly educating us. This is no time to nickel-and-dime us while the earth slowly crumbles.

The very least we volunteers deserve is to know that this city has our back in every way possible. A simple language shift, but a vital one, in the new regulations that tells us we are not alone; that our countless hours of unpaid labor, our sore backs and dirty fingernails, our creations of Eden out of unwanted garbage, and our forsworn incomes in the service of this city and its people matter to this administration. That as a city we will put in writing a simple phrase that says: Yes, we commit ourselves utterly to preserving your hard work for the future of all of us.

The very least we can do is show a little bit of the faithfulness of all the Bob Humbers of this city.
K Webster
Webster is co-chairperson, M’Finda Kalunga Community Garden

Clarifies position on Ray’s

To The Editor:
Re “The Ray Report” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Aug. 19):

May I be allowed to repair my image?

Scoopy said: “A number of readers were rubbed the wrong way by Michael Gottlieb’s recent letter in which he accused us of giving Ray too much coverage… . Pro-Ray readers say the egg cream maestro deserves all the coverage he can get since he’s an East Village institution of so many years.”

I’ve got news for you. I’m solidly in the pro-Ray camp! I have personally biked to Ray’s Candy Store — via the same Avenue A bike lane referenced by Scoopy — several times to give them my support and encouragement.

The only point I was trying to make is that there are a lot of social, economic and psychological issues crying out for coverage in the Downtown area. And that your newspaper, as a socially progressive publication, needs to address them, as well as cover Ray’s struggles.

For example, I see homeless people — men and women — sleeping in parks, under bridges, in corners of East River Park, on benches, etc. I consider the homeless worthy of coverage. In a still-wealthy society, to see men and women reduced to sleeping on park benches is extremely upsetting.

That needs to be covered by your newspaper in addition to Ray’s plight.

Try checking Luther Gulick Park. I’ve seen up to 10 or 12 human beings asleep there.
Michael Gottlieb

Bike-lane ‘speedways’

To The Editor:
Re “More spin and counter-spin on protected bike lanes” (news article, Aug. 12):

The bike lanes on First and Second Aves. are just unregulated speedways for any biker who chooses, as many do, to act as though red lights, pedestrian crossing signals and other traffic signs — e.g., one way — are irrelevant. Meanwhile, restaurant delivery guys ignore the lanes altogether and continue to bike on the sidewalks to get where they’re going. How about ticketing and fining all these people for violating existing traffic laws? That would do more to improve “safety for everyone,” to paraphrase Caroline Samponaro of Transportation Alternatives, than those ridiculous lanes.

Another idea: How about requiring that bikers be licensed in the same way that drivers are? That is, require that they pass a test in order to qualify for a license; renew that license every few years; and pay the cost of the initial license and its subsequent renewals? That requirement might not directly encourage safer biking practices, but I’m sure the City would be happy to have the licensing fees so that it could blow the revenue on another project as idiotic as the bike lanes.
Marion Osmun

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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