Volume 74, Number 8 | June 23 - 29, 2004

Letters to the Editor

Kudos for Q. photographs

To The Editor:
Re “Unsettling images of conflict” (letter, by Jonathan Slosser, June 2):

Here’s to The Villager for bringing us Village photographer Q. Sakamaki’s superbly clear-eyed and compassionate portrayal of the catastrophic affects of depleted uranium dust upon Iraqi children.

DU-tipped munitions are said to cut through tanks like butter, and have been widely used by the U.S. and its allies. Successive U.S. administrations have denied that exposure to the resulting DU dust causes ill health affects. However, the U.S. government’s own Argonne National Laboratory Web site on depleted uranium (http://web.ead.anl.gov/uranium/guide/health/index.cfm) says that depleted uranium is a significant health hazard if taken into the body. And that’s precisely what happens as children breathe in the fine depleted uranium dust.

Adults too. A recent series by Juan Gonzalez in the New York Daily News reported that certain U.S. troops coming home from Iraq, some evidently ill with uranium poisoning, are testing positive for high levels of DU. Gulf War veterans’ organizations report that a substantial percentage of the Gulf War syndrome illnesses and deaths in Desert Storm vets, including leukemia and other cancers, are attributed to DU exposure. And Italy called for a moratorium on the use of DU after some of its own troops died from leukemia following service in the Balkans.

Wisconsin Democratic Senator Russ Feingold has protested, “We have been through this before with many years of denial with regard to Agent Orange and its use in Vietnam. I don’t want to see our government in any way, in fact or perception, stonewall this issue of the health effects of depleted uranium.” New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is pressing for the testing of returning troops, certainly a good move. But unless it results in a moratorium on the use of DU, it won’t prevent the legacy of radioactive contamination the U.S. now leaves in its wake, including in its own serving troops, everywhere it engages in military action.

Ann Warner Arlen
Arlen is immediate past chairperson of Community Board 2’s Environment Committee.

We’ve lost some good ones

To The Editor:
The Villager should take editorial notice of the fact that several valuable members of Community Board 2 have been dropped from the board during the past few years.

The latest victim is Honi Klein, executive director of the Village Alliance, who brought special insight on business issues, and especially on sidewalk cafes.

But others who made conspicuous contributions were also not reappointed, weakening the board’s ability to serve the community effectively.

These include: Ann Arlen, former vice chairperson, who raised community consciousness on environmental hazards and the need for government protection; Arnold Goren, who frequently helped in framing resolutions that led to board consensus; Charle Cafiero, who brought a unique passion and knowledge to traffic issues; and Lora Tennenbaum, who had an independent view on zoning matters that was valuable in decision-making.

The community interest has not been served well with the departure of these board members.

Ed Gold
Gold is a member of Community Board 2

Likes Rall; not sold on ‘pimp’

To The Editor:
Re “Zero tolerance for Iraq War pundits who blew it” (talking point, by Ted Rall, June 2):

Thank you for Ted Rall’s incisive column.

I thought the use of the word “pimp” in regard to David Brooks and again in regard to supporters of the Iraq War demeaned Mr. Rall more than those he accuses.

Still, I applaud totally and share his evaluation of the Bush administration.

Well done and again, thank you for honest journalism and a free press.

Paula Schwartz

Only zoning can stop N.Y.U.

To The Editor:
Ed Gold’s talking point piece in the June 16 issue, “Appetite for expansion: N.Y.U.’s seems insatiable,” is right on the money, both in terms of the problem and the solution. Left unchecked, it is clear that New York University will keep building and expanding in the Village and immediate vicinity to the maximum degree possible, with city zoning laws providing a hefty bonus to the university for the size and scale of the projects it can construct. Changes to those zoning laws, and N.Y.U. acting as a partner with the community, will be necessary to resolve this long-standing conflict.

That is why the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation is advocating for changes to the zoning laws to stop enabling institutional overdevelopment of neighborhoods like the Village. We are calling for: reduction or elimination of the bulk bonus allowing significantly larger university buildings; requirements for publicly approved long-term master plans for institutions; bulk, height and massing requirements for institutional buildings to insure they fit their context; and assistance from the city for institutions to establish secondary or auxiliary campuses, so that they do not concentrate all of their new development in a single area (N.Y.U. had a secondary campus in the Bronx until the early 1970s).

The public can help fight for these changes by going to the section of our Web site at www.gvshp.org/kimmelhelp.htm for sample letters to the city urging these changes be made. Now is a critical time for this effort, as the city is considering institutional zoning reform measures that do not include any relief for our neighborhoods or the problems we face.
Andrew Berman
Berman is executive director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and Save Gansevoort Market

Long live the revolution!

To The Editor:
In the article of June 9, the meeting at # 9 Bleecker of the Yippies (“Gotta have park, say G.O.P. Convention protesters”), I was misquoted about the National Guard, in that it’s really important to remember that it was the Guard that shot four students at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. And that should never be forgotten — the murder of those students was an attack on the very thing that the ’60s generation believed in, from the anti-war movement to the counterculture.

The National Guard is as much a part of the state apparatus as the police or Army. It’s really naïve to think otherwise.

Now, as to what I said about the American working class — yes, I did say that. I hope that they strike this summer. But again my comments were taken out of context. What I said was that a number of contracts will be expiring this summer, and that it will be really great to see the whole damned convention in complete and utter turmoil, the more the better. And yes, I hope the working class and the anti-war movement would make common cause and unite. Yes, I did say that we need the children of the working class. Their destiny is linked with ours.

Karl Rosenstein

Editor’s note: The Villager stands by its reporting.

Abingdon, by George

To The Editor:
The renovation at Abingdon Sq. Park is a delightful and magnificent transformation!

George Vellonakis, the designer, has given us such an elegant, green oasis. Where there was broken asphalt filled with weeds we now have beautiful bluestone.

The addition of the new greenery — ferns, high lawn, magnolia bushes, dogwood, a new Japanese maple tree, etc. — has created a peaceful and serene environment.

Formerly, I voluntarily planted flowers and had to haul buckets of water from the deli across the street. Now, we have a new built-in sprinkler system.

Some friends who are wheelchair bound like the entrances with the beautiful new gates, which they have no difficulty entering.

Viola and Regina Dunn, longtime area residents, remember a time when horses stopped at a water trough near the Eighth Ave. entrance. They think the “Doughboy” statue is a welcome beacon now at the entrance instead of the statue facing the Bing & Bing apartment building. Mr. Vellonakis lowered the base and the soldier itself is more visible from the benches and to the eye entering the park. It now gives the park gravitas!

There are also marvelous antique lamps and unusual garbage containers and more seating.

Thanks belong to Mr. George Vellonakis, the talented designer, Christine Quinn, our city councilmember, and the community board, including Aubrey Lees.

I’m so glad I dragged myself to the many meetings to fight for our new little gem.

I’ve had friends comment that they had never sat in the park formerly even though they resided nearby for years. Now they tell me they have “caught a breeze” overlooking a grassy hill.

Paige Jordan

Seeing red over blue

To The Editor:
In response to the June 16 article, “Getting hot about sex shops,” by David H. Ellis, there are residents by the hundreds who have nothing positive to say about the influx of tattoo parlors and adult shops onto Sixth Ave. between W. Fourth and Carmine Sts. or W. Fourth and Bleecker Sts. These neighbors feel dismayed and angered to see their beloved neighborhood become a dumping ground of unacceptable businesses. You won’t see them entering these establishments to complain to employees or proprietors. They feel powerless!

In your editorial decisions, you have photos galore. Why not a photo montage for this article? Why not a full color display of Sixth Ave. from Crazy Fantasy up to the Waverly Theater, the newly opened Cherry BoXXX on W. Fourth St. or the adult movie store at 313 Sixth Ave. that offers 25-cent viewing booths of X-rated films? A photo is worth a thousand words. Your readers should have the opportunity to see the visual blight engulfing our homes and businesses. This is what our community’s children pass on their way to school daily. In the immediate area, the neighborhood supports three grammar schools, two Catholic parishes and a Conservative Congregational church.

Rosemary C. Bella
Bella is executive vice president and acting chairperson, Central Village Block Association

Say no to Book Country

To The Editor:
One hundred thousand people will invade Washington Sq. Park when New York Is Book Country comes to the Village this year. W. Fourth St., Washington Pl., Waverly Pl., LaGuardia Pl. and Thompson St. will be closed to traffic, lined with tents and jammed with people.

This event must be stopped! Leave it on Fifth Ave. in Midtown where it’s been for the past 25 years. Please contact Jonathan Greenspun, commissioner, Community Assistance Unit, e-mail jgreenspun@cityhall.nyc.gov; fax 212-788-7754; phone 212-788-7418; address 100 Gold St., NY, NY 10038; and tell him “No Book Country in the Village!”

Roberta Johnson

Remember the Sultana

To The Editor:
I went to the South Street Seaport this morning to go on the boat ride to North Brother Island to commemorate the victims of the Slocum disaster.

I found a copy of the Downtown Express in a news box and read Bonnie Rosenstock’s well-written article about the Slocum disaster (news article, June 11, “Remembering the Slocum disaster, a century later”). One phrase in it is incorrect, however. The Slocum disaster was New York City’s (but not the nation’s) “largest and most devastating peacetime maritime disaster.” That sad distinction belongs to the far worse Sultana steamship disaster.

On April 27, 1865, the Civil War had ended and the United States was again at peace. The Sultana was carrying demobilized Union troops and former prisoners of war home. On that day three of her four boilers exploded and 1,700 people were killed.

If few people have heard of the Slocum disaster, even in New York City where it occurred, almost no one has heard of the Sultana disaster.

Alfred Kohler

Editor’s note: Downtown Express is a sister newspaper of The Villager. Rosenstock’s article on the General Slocum disaster first ran in The Villager on June 9.

HOWLing good article

To The Editor:
Re “FEVA focuses: Plans new arts spaces and programs” (news article, June 9):

Belated thanks for the very positive (and very accurate) coverage of FEVA in the recent Villager article. It’s a relief to be able to concentrate on real public issues rather than on permitting squabbles and phantom organizations.

I hope that FEVA can continue to earn The Villager’s and the community’s trust as we tackle these huge, but doable, projects. We look forward to working together on HOWL! ’04 and beyond!

Phil Hartman
Hartman is executive director, HOWL!/ Federation of East Village Artists

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