Volume 80, Number 41 | March 10 -16, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Who you calling ‘Cappuccino’?

To The Editor:
Re “‘Cappuccino Party’ and its clout” (letter, by Zella Jones, March 3):

I doubt Zella Jones took a survey of all the residents of Little Italy, so it must be purely by her psychic powers that she claims to know that 95 percent of the population feels “bullied” by a few and are forced to “turn the other cheek.” I also found it very enlightening that Zella is “quite sure” of what happened back in the 1920’s when our neighborhood changed from Irish to Italian. Was she there way back then? How else could she be “quite sure” about anything that happened eight decades ago?

I especially want to comment on Zella’s use of the term “The Cappuccino Party.” In her typical classless style, she has once again shown her feelings toward the Italian people. The label she chose is offensive and bigoted, and she owes all of us an apology. In the past as a board member of Community Board 2, Zella made rude, condescending and bigoted remarks against the Italian community.

As for the 3,000 people signed on as members of a Facebook group in support of the San Gennaro Feast, they have every right to voice their concerns regarding Little Italy and San Gennaro as others have done. The people on Facebook have ties to Little Italy and San Gennaro. These are people who used to live here, work here, own businesses here; some of their family members still live here. These are people from Italian families or who married into Italian families. The Little Italy community and the San Gennaro Feast are still important to them no matter where they currently live.

We have heard attacks against San Gennaro by people who live nowhere near the feast; they do not live on Mulberry St. but “somewhere” in Little Italy. Why is it O.K. for them to attack the feast but not O.K. for others to voice their support of it? Why is Zella so disturbed by this Facebook page? Is it because the number of people supporting San Gennaro far and away outnumbers those who oppose it?

Some say we should thank Zella and people who think like her. Thanks to them and the Internet, Italians, Italian-Americans and people who love Italians all over the world are united in support of, not only the San Gennaro Feast, but of us fighting to retain our Italian heritage and culture. It used to be that Italians and Catholics were easy groups to attack because we never fought back. In case no one’s noticed, those days are over.
Emily DePalo
DePalo is a board member, Figli di San Gennaro

Community and SPURA process

To The Editor:
Re “SPURA design will try to ‘maximize light and air’ ” (news article, March 3):

Thanks for your ongoing reporting on the crucial issue of SPURA. It should have been reported, though, that the Economic Development Corporation official, when pressed, stated that the city issued a request for proposals to only a few select firms, from which Beyer Blinder Belle was ultimately chosen — without input from either Community Board 3 or the community. Not an auspicious approach to engendering trust — or doesn’t government care to “maximize light and air” in the (lightning-fast) process marching toward development?

If this is how E.D.C. approaches hiring an urban design consultant, we have every reason to believe C.B. 3 and the community will be locked out of ULURP — our last, best chance to exercise control over our community’s land — SPURA. C.B. 3 and the community have fought hard in countless meetings (on a tight timeline dictated by the city) over myriad aspects of developing this valuable, long-vacant, historically wounded land precisely because too much is at stake for the Lower East Side! And yet, government waltzes in, unilaterally making a decision and taking action without notice, consultation or concern for the community it’s mandated to serve.

SPURA is vacant only because 1,852 families were evicted in 1967 — a wholly vibrant community obliterated, a neighborhood forever scarred and haunted. If ever a compelling reason for a thoroughly open, transparent, creative approach — reaching out to all, bar none, to allow reasonable, unhurried space and time for the unfettered flow and exchange of ideas, so as to build the very best development, to do our utmost to somehow ameliorate history’s grievous wrongs — SPURA is it! Wake up people! No justice, no peace!
Adrienne M.Z. Chevrestt

The ‘wellness center’ alternative

To The Editor:
Re “As one-year mark looms, hospital activists fight on” (news article, Feb. 28):

Over the summer of 2010, I attended a Community Board 2 meeting on the use of the former St. Vincent’s Hospital building. Practically every person who stood before the microphone — most of them residents age 55 or older — expressed a genuine need for a primary-care community hospital at the site.

I, however, believe the former hospital building at Seventh and Greenwich Aves. would best serve the Greenwich Village community if it were turned into a center of wellness instead of sickness or disease. This is what concerned neighborhood residents should demand:

First, a group of city leaders, perhaps with my participation, should apply for FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) funds to buy the building out of bankruptcy and relieve its creditors of the former hospital’s debts.

Next, 10 floors of the building should be converted to office-type space for “business and commerce arts education”-oriented classes and workshops, similar to those offered by The Learning Annex.

Two primary floors should be converted to an emergency first-aid care facility for Village residents, restaurant workers, etc. An entirely new, full-service, state-of-the-art hospital should be built on property south of Seventh Ave., ideally donated by the Trinity Real Estate group — property that was bequeathed by the British royal family centuries ago. The new hospital would create a new tax base and enable the rehiring of St. Vincent’s 3,500 terminated hospital workers.

Returning to the former St. Vincent’s site, an outdoor cafe would be constructed and managed along the southern portico, with an open-air bar on the area’s east wall, with fabulous chandeliers suspended from the ceiling. There would be a TKTS sales booth along the Seventh Ave. side — where the emergency room waiting area used to be.

A “star”-shaped sculpture would be put on the corner outcrop over the portico steps facing Seventh Ave. South — thus, appearing to create a visual tie to the lights further up Broadway.

This “new” former St. Vincent’s facility would create 3,500-plus jobs and would be a positive, new, economically strong Village landmark.

Once this is done, we can all be satisfied knowing that — with a bit of common sense and decision-making — good things can happen in good communities, and that this particular locale in the Village will maintain its status as a great institution within a greater New York City.
Chris Jarczynski

Pot providers are ‘angels’

To The Editor:
Re “Pot activist still in the joint: ‘It was all medical marijuana’ ” (news article, March 3):

I know people who are so sick, people who have died and been brought back, who are only feeling a little comfort due to marijuana. So many people are so sick, and truly to bring them comfort is indeed the work of an angel.
Lynn Tulumello

The soul of Little Italy

To The Editor:
Re “Anne Compoccia, former Downtown leader, dies at 62” (obituary, March 3):

She was the soul of Little Italy. She will be dearly missed. Rest in peace.
Ralph Tramontana

Heed ‘Tale of the Trees’

To The Editor:
Re “Soho residents strike back, slam business district plan” (news article, Feb. 10):

The BID (business improvement district) has moved to capture Broadway from Houston St. to Canal St. by creating a separate governing body of real estate barons to “improve” the lives of Soho residents. This conquest will also be dangerous for residents living in and out of the Broadway corridor.

Consider this:

A beautiful grove of trees lived in neighborhood harmony until a woodsman came with promises: “Give me one small tree and I will give you a clean and secure forest.” “No!” said the grandfather tree. “We are content in our grove.”

“Give me only a very little one,” the woodsman said, pointing to a sapling. The grove looked at the little sapling and thought, “What harm can it be? Let the woodsman take her. She is not part of our grove.” And the woodsman pulled the small tree from the earth and took it to his woodshed and made a handle for his ax. The next day, he returned and cut down the grandfather tree. Soon he had cut down all the old neighborhood grove.

Ben Franklin, at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, warned us: “We must all hang together or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Call the Soho Alliance, at 212-353-8466, or call us at the 491 Co-op: Sally Lindsay, 212-431-3265, or Jim Hatch, 212-966-3231.
James V. Hatch

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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