Volume 73, Number 3 | May 19 - 25, 2004

Letters to the Editor

Marlow needs to walk the walk

To The Editor:
Re “Losing affordable housing means losing Democrats” (talking point, by Chad Marlow, May 12):

I totally agree with Chad Marlow in his position that we need more affordable housing in New York City, specifically Manhattan. However, he has failed to offer any solutions to move our city closer to that reality. So how do we expand our source of affordable housing? One important way is by the ensuring that any development on the West Side of Manhattan in Hell’s Kitchen South and in West Chelsea includes a large amount of affordable housing. Mr. Marlow should be putting energy into creating an alternative plan such as set forth in by the HKHY Alliance (www.hkhyalliance.org), which asks for 30-40 percent of all the development to be permanent affordable housing. In addition, the plan seeks a mostly residential development, open community space and low-rise development. I would encourage Mr. Marlow to get engaged with this process in a positive way, work towards solutions, or we will loose this opportunity, which is not going to exist ever again.

Harvey Epstein
Epstein is chairperson, Community Board 3, and associate director, Housing Conservation Coordinators

Democrats could use competition

To The Editor:
Re “Losing affordable housing means losing Democrats” (talking point, by Chad Marlow, May 12):

Regarding Chad Morrow’s article about Democrats fleeing Manhattan because of high rents, doesn’t he realize that the Democrats get more than 80 percent of the vote in almost every election in Manhattan. Either there is a lot of affordable housing here, or a lot of wealthy people are voting for the Democrats. What we need here is a two-party system so we can have (d)emocracy.

Charles L. Walker

Thanks for a poignant column

To The Editor:
Re “The Far West Village I knew is becoming a memory” (notebook, by Michele Herman, May 5):

Sincere thanks to Michele Herman for her sweet reminiscences of the Far West Village. Amidst all the outrage and in this rightfully fraught environment, it is a relief to read such a wonderfully reasoned piece. I am hardly objective, of course — I never did understand the giddy excitement over the pending arrival of Meier and his towers. I do, however, understand and share the angst, now that the towers are here. Every row house that is demolished breaks my heart. It is not my definition of progress. Wherever Michele is leading, I am happy to follow.

Susan Eddy

How about a disabled discount?

To The Editor:
Re “Chelsea Rec Center finally opens its doors” (news article, May 12):

As a disabled resident of Chelsea, I am outraged and disappointed after reading in The Villager that the Chelsea Recreational Center has special membership rates for children and seniors, but none for people with disabilities. Many people with disabilities like myself, cannot work and are on limited incomes, just like seniors. Also just like seniors, we have varying capabilities. It is wrong for us to have to pay the same fee for membership as an able-bodied adult who is working. Disabled people benefit from exercise and socialization, just like anyone else. I urge the community, Mr. Benepe, Ms. Quinn and Mr. Duane to remedy this issue. Thank you.

Seena Liff

Madness in Abingdon Sq. Park

To The Editor:
As far as the disabled community is concerned the only things left of Abingdon Sq. Park are the words “Abingdon Square” and its location.

Once a single-level, full-family, fully accessible park, Abingdon has been turned into a multileveled, ornamental garden with steps and fences all around an interior bluestone sidewalk, excluding people with disabilities from most of the square. What madness compels the Parks Department to create a hill of grass in the apex of a square that is heavily used by people with disabilities, by people with wheelchairs?

Why is bluestone being used instead of hexagonal pavers?

Never have we seen a bureaucracy that holds people with disabilities in such disdain.

Margie Rubin
Rubin is a board member, Disabled in Action

Squirrels! Let me tell you about ’em

To The Editor:
Re “Squirrels: Destroying my plants and quality of life” (notebook, by Wilson, April 28):

Oh, Wilson, you are singing my song. They absolutely make eye contact. They’re sizing us up, and they’re winning. Each year it gets worse, although it’s a recent plague in our series of backyards. I, too, can look out my bathroom window and watch their craziness. Hibernate? I wish! Watching their nonstop antics throughout this last hard winter was bizarre. Still, no matter how cold the temperature, no matter how deep the ice and snow cover, they spend hours in constant, frenzied running up and down trees and fire escapes.

However, with spring they have added eating as a constant activity and completely denuded my wonderful magnolia tree for the first time in 36 years — oh, there were two blossoms they couldn’t reach. My ferns and hostas have huge chunks taken out up the rising coiled shoots, and the worst is yet to come.

Last year I saved a few impatiens with chicken wire — yuck. The only good news is that the birds don’t seem to mind them. Even the feral cat, which has been stalking all the birds that come to my backyard and killing over 10 mourning doves in the last year and a half, has been unable to catch these moving targets.

Cynthia Crane Story

No progress on tennis courts

To The Editor:
Re “Downtown Manhattan is getting greener” (Progress Report, by Adrian Benepe, April 21):

Specifically regarding the parks, thanks go to Commissioners Benepe and Castro as well as District Manager Crowley, East River Park Manager Sauri and the park staff. The overhaul of our park, in the “down East” part of the county, is thrilling to behold. It’s great seeing progress made everyday!

But I fear, while I pass progress on my way to the tennis courts I realize that progress is passing the tennis players by. The 12 courts at the Brian Watkins Center in East River Park — between the Houston and Grand St. footbridges — are the Parks Department’s only Downtown courts in the county, and the only courts on the East Side of Manhattan Island.

Unlike the leafy environs of Inwood’s courts, East River Park’s courts lie under the Williamsburg Bridge. Lest there be any distractions at tournament time at Flushing Meadow, planes are re-routed. E.R.P. players, however, have to “zone out” Hatzolah ambulances honking buses out of their lanes, while, at set point, M trains screech overhead.

Given its place between the bridge and the river, however, The Watkins Center would make the coolest place to host clinics and tournaments. But this can only happen with capital infusion. Grandstands at the southernmost courts could be constructed at minimal cost. But the Brian Watkins facility, so named in memory of a tennis fan who died so tragically while visiting New York to attend the U.S. Open, demands year-round lights, clean, safe restrooms and working water fountains.

All of the neighboring facilities in the park are being upgraded, but not our courts. Although now improved with new nets, thank you very much, the courts still need much work and maintenance. Creating confusion, the courts aren’t numbered and the paint on many baselines is worn out. But given that, insultingly, annual permit fees were just raised by 100 percent ($100 from $50) and single-play fees were raised by 40 percent ($7 from $5), we realize that tennis is on Parks’ radar screen.

Hopefully, someone charitable agrees that East River Park’s tennis courts should be lighted, playable and made an enviable facility. We only want what our park’s other fields will soon, gloriously, have.

Billy Sternberg


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