Volume 73, Number 50 | April 21 - 27, 2004


Like Neutral Zone all over again?

To The Editor:
Re “Group hopes to better relations on Christopher St.” (news article, April 7):

I read the article concerning UNITTY (a new partnership of Village social service agencies) with great concern. It appears that UNITTY is being managed by the same group that ran the Neutral Zone.

The Neutral Zone was a drop-in center on Christopher St. for troubled youth who did not live in the area, and was created to provide a safe place to meet, as opposed to the streets and piers. The intent was to get the kids off the street and provide them with some constructive activities. As time passed, the community realized that the Neutral Zone was not fulfilling its obligations to the youth or the community. Years went by, with more kids coming to the area just to hang out, especially after closing time. Our community’s quality of life was clearly declining. Eventually, the Neutral Zone management lost all credibility in the community, and the Neutral Zone was forced to leave the Christopher St. location and West Village.

Once again the (same?) management of another new group, UNITTY, has already demonstrated its poor judgment in conducting the March 26 talent show, which was held at the Lucille Lortel Theater. The show started at 10:30 p.m. and ended at 11:45 p.m. Over 100 noisy kids were hanging out after the theater closed, as witnessed by the Christopher St. Patrol, Guardian Angels and others. It seems to me that the first step in helping troubled kids is to get them off the street late at night. I question the wisdom of UNITTY holding an event on Christopher St. so late at night. This kind of thinking shows disregard for the kids they claim to help and disrespect for the community.

Also, it was reported to me that few residents and local business owners were in attendance at this event and the majority of seats were taken by youth who do not live in our area.

UNITTY should expose these kids to other areas and teach them to appreciate all the city has to offer, not just Christopher St. The dangers and problems in hanging out on the street can only have a negative impact on these kids and the residents. Christopher St. is a dead-end for these troubled youth.

Perhaps it’s finally time for the city, not the state, to oversee and monitor the local nonprofits. Right now, no one is minding the store.
Elaine Goldman
Goldman is president, Christopher St. Block & Merchants Association

UNITTY should just use the Center

To The Editor:
Re “Group hopes to better relations on Christopher St.” (news article, April 7):

UNITTY sounds like another Neutral Zone with the same Neutral Zone management!

With all of the concern to find a place for these youths, what is the problem with using the Gay and Lesbian Center on 13th St., which has ample space and appears to contain everything that UNITTY is trying to duplicate?

It appears that UNITTY is an excuse to operate yet another program with taxpayers’ money.
Barbara Baluta

Lederman returns shot at Wilson

To The Editor:
Re “Wilson volleys back at critics” (letter, by Wilson, April 14):

Dear Wilson, I’m glad you bought my postcard (which proves you have good taste in art) and I hope that if you ever decide to come back to the street you check out our Web site first, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NYCStreetArtists, and get some accurate information on the laws.
As far as your response to my letter, I didn’t “claim” you had “fantasies of mass murdering vendors.” You did. Here’s what it said in your column: “Though I still get annoyed when street vendors get in my way (and admit to having somewhat militaristic fantasies involving a Taser about how to remedy the situation)...”

You insist on reporting that you got a permit. What “special” permit would that be? Do you mean a copy of the vending law?

That’s no more a permit than the instruction booklet explaining how to use a remote control is a television.
And here’s your quote about a supposed three-hour limit: “Uncharacteristically according to the licensed vendors, the inspectors said I could stay for three hours (and indicated that there’d be trouble if I didn’t comply). I thanked them profusely, and got to work.”
Robert Lederman

The rewards of street vending

To The Editor:
Re “Vendors: It’s a hard sell outside, or as an Outsider” (notebook, by Wilson, March 31):

Hey Wilson, imagine doing that same art-vending display thing for over 10 years (after a 25-year professional career in the arts), and then getting a major museum exhibition from someone who saw your work on the street. Imagine the sense of fulfillment you would feel after making it on your own, and keeping the rights to all of your work yourself. Imagine the debt of gratitude you would feel for the opportunity to place your free artistic vision and pure unfiltered expression in front of the public in this manner.

That is what happened to me, and that gratitude is what I feel today.

Let me encourage you to continue displaying your artwork in public. It was an ice-cold, 10-degree day (in which I made not one sale) that I handed out my card to the person who gave me my first exhibition. As long as your line is in the water — you are likely to get fish.

P.S.: I too suffered a long ongoing series of vicious fallacious attacks from Liarman,..... oops, I mean Lederman. Just try to remember that he is not speaking for anyone other than himself. Almost every artist I know believes he was totally consumed by his own self-importance long ago. All you did was to step on what he thinks is his turf (public space and free speech), so he barked. He believes in his own rights and none of yours.
Lawrence White

N.Y.U. is consuming the Village

To The Editor:
To urgently landmark a group of 40-year-old “project” buildings on the east side of La Guardia Pl. at Bleecker St. seems somewhat dumb, given what appears to be a more urgent need, saving the Village waterfront.

To have a call to arms and rally the troops to protect a supermarket (it ain’t Balducci’s), a recreational center and a sculptured blowup of a Picasso twilight-year so-so sculpture is pushing it. Leave it (the sculpture). Relocate it (the sculpture) if necessary. Whatever.

If N.Y.U. needs to demolish and build, let them demolish and build on the block north of the Silver Towers. Talk about ugly architecture.

N.Y.U. has consistently raped the Washington Sq./Greenwich Village neighborhood for over 50 years.

Why doesn’t the city just deed them the property from the Bowery (perhaps all the way to the East River) to Sixth Ave., from Houston to 14th, and spare us Villagers this ongoing attempt to preserve the “Heart of Greenwich Village.” The Planning Commission doesn’t seem to be able to stop them. The Landmarks Preservation Commission doesn’t appear to stop them. I haven’t seen this blatant disregard of propriety, moral neglect, indecency or civic non-control since Robert Moses ran roughshod over New York’s future more than half a century ago.

I’m surprised N.Y.U. hasn’t by now burrowed under Washington Sq. to gain more space. Albeit they will run into bodies of victims from the cholera epidemic of the early part of the 19th century, but that should not slow them down in their quest to unify their campus. They will also encounter the remnants of the Manetta spring, which will halt their progress only temporarily to the extent that they will probably pump up its remains and claim a tax relief for having provided a community benefit.
Lou Scrima

Bummed over bus changes

To The Editor:
If you live in an area of the Grand St. co-ops best served by the Avenue A bus, or are in a wheelchair or you cannot navigate the subway stairs or you travel down Ninth Ave. to 14th St. in front of Chelsea Market, you can no longer catch the Avenue A bus in front of Chelsea Market for a direct connection.

  First they give us longer buses and then they cut the schedule. Now they take away a direct connection. And if you make the mistake of getting off on Ninth Ave. in front of Chelsea Market not knowing the Avenue A buses doesn’t stop there anymore, you have to get to 14th Street and Eighth Ave. to get home. So don’t plan on traveling from the Theater District on the Ninth Ave. bus and expect to connect to the Avenue A bus to get home. And don’t plan to shop and carry home from Chelsea Market. And don’t think you have a direct route to Chelsea Piers anymore.
 Phyllis Unroch

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