Volume 74, Number 25 | Octuber 20 - 26 , 2004

Letters to the editor

Shocked by N.Y.U. superblock spin

To The Editor:
Re “Rally to save ‘endangered’ Pei complex” (news article, Oct. 6), “Sparks fly over strips at Parks Committee meeting” (news article, Oct. 13) and “Super slugfest” (Scoopy’s notebook, Oct. 13):

I was shocked and amazed to read the blatant mischaracterizations and falsehoods offered by Michael Haberman and New York University in recent Villager articles regarding the Silver Towers superblock preservation effort. First of all, the statement that N.Y.U. has gotten no response to offers to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation to meet to discuss plans for the supermarket site is blatantly untrue; when N.Y.U. first suggested they would be wiling to meet after last spring’s town hall meeting, I immediately asked the university to schedule such a meeting for residents of 505 LaGuardia Pl. and G.V.S.H.P., with whom we have been working closely on this issue. In my e-mail correspondence with N.Y.U. to schedule a meeting I specifically stated that we “would like to have productive discussions with N.Y.U. regarding the Morton Williams site and other issues that affect our community. In order for us to respond to President Sexton’s request to make recommendations for possible uses of the Morton Williams site, we would need to know what the number of pressing academic and housing needs facing us over the coming years that you are referring to. We want to be able to make educated recommendations to you. We propose a meeting with whomever you deem appropriate that can outline for us what N.Y.U.’s development needs are over the next 10 to 15 years.”

We are still waiting for a date from the university, which has consistently stonewalled and delayed setting up a meeting that they publicly stated they are willing to have.

I also find N.Y.U.’s assertion that the effort to landmark the superblock and its I.M. Pei design is a “misuse of landmarks law” ridiculous. Mr. Haberman takes every opportunity to remark that G.V.S.H.P. wants to landmark a grocery store, when the landmark application clearly states that Morton Williams and Coles are “non-contributing” buildings. This landmarking effort is not only supported by G.V.S.H.P., but the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Municipal Art Society, the American Institute of Architects NY Chapter, residents of 505 LaGuardia Pl., Councilmember Alan Gerson, State Senator Tom Duane, Assemblymember Deborah Glick and dozens of other community and preservation organizations; frankly, I feel more confidence in this group’s understanding of the appropriate use of landmarks law than I do in N.Y.U.’s.

It appears that N.Y.U.’s accusations are part of any ongoing attempt to deflect attention away from the real issues here — why is the university so intent upon blocking any effort to preserve the superblock’s green space, or to preserve its current design, which is recognized locally and nationally as being of great architectural and historical significance?

Carin Cardone
Cardone is a board member, 505 LaGuardia Pl.

University feels above reproach

To The Editor:
Re “Super slugfest” (Scoopy’s notebook, Oct. 13):

It seems with Michael Haberman’s recent comments, New York University has reached a new low, even for them. Are they actually saying that a community group like the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has no right to criticize the university because they’ve received funds N.Y.U. administers for education programs for children? What’s next — will children who participate in the programs be required to sign a waiver of their rights to ever criticize N.Y.U. as well?

The only one I see being “petty, bitter and personal” — to quote the N.Y.U. spokesperson — in all of this is N.Y.U. I have heard no personal attacks on the university; in fact, at the press conference calling upon N.Y.U. to do the right thing with the supermarket site, several speakers, including the director of the Society, went out of their way to make clear that they were not attacking N.Y.U., and even stressed that they thought that the Silver Towers complex was one of N.Y.U.’s greatest projects in the community; and they invited the university to join in celebrating — and preserving — this major contribution to the neighborhood.

It’s sad but not at all surprising to see that N.Y.U. again just doesn’t get it. They seem unable to admit that the community could ever have a legitimate criticism of their actions, or reason to ask them to change their plans or live up to their responsibilities to the neighborhood. Instead they lash out in bitter recriminations and remain steeped in deep denial.

Instead of attacking legitimate community groups — or anyone who disagrees with them — N.Y.U. should recognize that they have an obligation to work with the community, not to dictate an agenda based solely on their naked self-interest.

Dan Whitford

Could write book on fair’s ills

To The Editor:
Got $20,700? Then you, too, can buy Washington Sq. Park for an entire weekend — like New York Is Book Country just did. You’re a front for commercial, profit-making enterprises? So is Book Country! Here’s the book on all the players:

Washington Place Block Association deserves congrats and kudos for months of relentless work — letter, faxes, meetings, phone calls — in leading the full assault on trying to stop Book Country from taking over the entire park and many Village streets. They succeeded in reining it in significantly.

Community Board 2 should be smacked upside the head for not even knowing that this huge, glorified street fair was coming to our nabe, and then failing utterly in stopping it.

Alan Gerson was asked in June to intervene in ridding our neighborhood park of this crass, commercial event. He did nothing until the end of August. The cornerstone of the deal he finally brokered is that this was a one-time-only event. Now, he’s quoted in The Villager as saying, “Whether we can live with this as an annual event ...we have to talk about it with the community.” The community has spoken. What part of one-time-only event don’t you understand, Alan? You prove the old saying: we get what we vote for.

New York University: You’ve used and abused the community so often we don’t even listen to you anymore. But hear us: city streets are not your “campus.” Washington Sq. Park is not your playground.

Target: You bought yourself a shopping cart full of ill will.

Ann Binkley, director of Book Country: You saw the protest buttons and flyers all over your tacky, second-rate fair: go back to Fifth Ave. in 2005. Everyone saw your big idea of moving this to the Village was a flop; you got nowhere near the 75,000 visitors that Fifth Ave. always did.

Parks Department: You sold out for a measly $20,700. So, how many events will it take to raise the $18 million N.Y.U. has decided is needed to renovate the park to the condition they want it? Neighbors: you do the math; and then stop the commercialization of your park.

Lorraine Howard Work starts with a bang

To The Editor:
Something must be done about construction sites in residential areas making noise early in the morning.

Although the city building code allows construction work between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., considerate builders schedule the work so the noisy stuff comes later in the day.

Unfortunately this has not been the case for months on end with the construction at 123 E. 23rd St. in the Gramercy Park area. Despite calls and letters to the owner, Kolanu Partners of Great Neck, N.Y., and Dolner Construction, as well as further letters to the mayor and Councilmember Margarita Lopez, the crew at this site insists on starting each new day with a round of earsplitting pounding and hammering that lasts from approximately 7:05 a.m. to 7:20 a.m.

The really frustrating part of this ongoing nuisance is that these bozos are actually making the most noise of their entire day’s work right at the crack of dawn. Once everyone in the neighborhood has been good and truly awakened, then the construction proceeds relatively quietly for the balance of the day.

It really is stupid, inconsiderate behavior, and we hard-working area residents deserve better.

Jerry Danzig

Board rules are a laugh

To The Editor:
Re “Csendes incensed” (Scoopy’s notebook, Oct. 13):

Community Board 2 chairperson Jim Smith says that the community board is a civic group. Somewhere there is an oxymoron but I haven’t quite figured it out. Republican candidate Csendes was not allowed to speak but her partner was allowed, providing no campaign button was being worn. It was not explained why Csendes herself wasn’t allowed to speak in a nonpartisan way as was Tom Duane, an elected official. If the reason is that Csendes’ mere appearance is a political appearance and Duane’s is not, let’s get real here. I suppose the chamber of commerce-type publicity we see from elected officials during election years has nothing to do with politics either. For chairperson Smith to say community board meetings are not for politicking must belie the board’s true purpose — a stand-up comedy training ground.

Robert Weitz

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