Volume 74, Number 33 | December 22 - 28, 2004

Letters to the editor

Now we’re talkin’…Ukrainian

To The Editor:
Re “East Village goes orange, Ukrainians show colors” (news article, Dec. 15):

A thank you to Justin Rocket Silverman for an informative article about the Ukrainian Village and the Orange Revolution. We have been part of this community for 150 years and nobody paid attention to us. It took the land grab of Cooper Union for people to find out about us. Now we are in the news on a larger scale because of the Orange Revolution. Being interviewed for the article I feel I came across as being anti-Russian, which most definitely I am not, as long as Ukraine’s sovereignty is being respected, which in this case it is not. As far as speaking Ukrainian by those in charge of Ukraine, it can be forgiven if they never learned Ukrainian. But after 13 years of independence all of them had a chance to learn. Some chose not to. Unfortunately, the president’s wife was one of them and that shows me that the lady in question has no respect for her country and her people. Ukraine’s people deserve a true democracy and they will achieve it on Dec. 26 and show the world that this can be done in peaceful manner, without bloodshed.

Jaroslaw Kurowyckyj

Soho residents have a right to park

To The Editor:
Re “Parking in Soho is a no-go” (news article, Dec. 8):

Several letter writers in last week’s issue opined that introducing alternate-side parking in Soho would increase air and noise pollution. In fact, it will decrease it.

Since none of these writers actually reside here, oddly enough, perhaps they did not realize that Soho activists and environmentalists are among the most active in the city fighting for reduction of vehicular traffic.

The Soho Alliance sued the M.T.A. in 1987 to reverse the one-way toll on the Verrazano Bridge that unnecessarily brings thousand of cars and trucks into our neighborhoods daily. Our efforts have helped secure the prohibition of trucks in the Holland Tunnel and the reduction of oversized tractor-trailers in our streets. We have lobbied for East River bridge tolls to keep cars out of Manhattan and currently are preparing an environmental lawsuit to prevent the New York City Department of Transportation from turning Houston St. into a speedway.

What these writers fail to realize is that during the week the current commercial parking rules provide parking space in Soho only for trucks, tour busses, idling limos, abusers of the parking-permit privilege and out-of-state scofflaws — just about everyone but the people who live here! Does that make sense?

On weekends, tens of thousands of tourists, many with cars, invade the neighborhood, grab space in front of residents’ buildings or prowl the streets looking for that elusive parking space — all the while creating air, space and noise pollution. Realizing that residents’ cars will already be parked here will encourage these visitors to use mass transit. Isn’t that a good thing?

In his myopia, one silly writer actually encourages us to patronize local garages and parking lots now slated for residential construction — appearing to favor parking facilities over residential housing.

The vast majority of neighborhoods have alternate-side residential parking. If the writers want to fight to eliminate all residential parking in New York, fine.

Otherwise, Soho residents only ask from them the same treatment afforded millions of other New Yorkers.

Sean Sweeney
Sweeney is director, Soho Alliance

Pros of alternate-side parking

To The Editor:
In recent letters to the editor in The Villager, several readers vehemently reject alternative-side-of-the-street parking in Soho for reasons that are reflexive and not well thought out. Living in Soho for nearly 30 years and being directly affected by this proposal I’ve given the matter long thought and have concluded like all changes there is both good and bad.

What must be held in account is that activists in Soho have been strident urban environmentalists for decades. We have opposed the insane Verrazano Bridge toll. We have supported East River bridge tolls. Before anyone else, we raised the issue of illegal trucking and lobbied the New York Police Department and Department of Transportation for enforcement and improved signs. We have staged protests against air pollution and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s continued purchase of diesel buses. At our local police precincts we have repeatedly called for increased traffic enforcement and adherence to the 3-minute idling law ignored by too many tour buses.

Critics claim that alternate-side parking will bring more vehicles and thus more pollution to the area. After studying residential blocks in the East and West Village, I must refute this claim. Residents who jockey their autos every morning to secure the spaces probably use 90 percent of those spaces available on a given day. I would imagine the same would hold true here. On Broome St. we would actually see a decrease in pollution because there would be one less lane of traffic. During the crowded weekday rush hour there are five lanes of traffic on our block. Eliminate one lane and we cut our carbon monoxide by 20 percent. Add a bike lane and we cut out pollution by 40 percent.

What necessitates changes here are the new zoning regulations that now allow for as-of-right residential construction on parking lots in Soho. With the rapid disappearance of these spaces a crisis has developed. Not only are there not enough spaces, but the remaining lots have jacked up their prices, economically squeezing many in what is still a predominantly middle-class neighborhood. What’s free in Brooklyn or Queens now costs us nearly $5,000 a year!

As I see it, the problem is not automobiles, but the internal combustion engine. Imagine if all vehicles were powered by alternative fuel sources. Health would improve, global warming would be mitigated and we wouldn’t be fighting that immoral war in Iraq. Since the advent of the wheel, man has used transport to ease and improve his life. The real fight is not against people owning vehicles but to improve new vehicles. In addition, locally, D.O.T. must radically adjust its thinking and vastly improve the woefully inadequate bike lane network that now exists. Increased spending for mass transit is also a key issue. It is very shortsighted to lambaste Manhattanites who own a car, as many do to escape from a city that has too few parks (none in Soho).

Probably the greatest negative impact to alternate-side parking would be to our streetscapes, as the vehicles would obstruct clear views of our magnificent historic district. These are questions that the community will discuss in the upcoming Community Board 2 Transportation Committee meeting.

Carl Rosenstein

G.V.B.A. against pavilion restaurant

To The Editor:
The Greenwich Village Block Associations is sensitive to the city’s fiscal restraints, but we are dismayed that the Parks Department is routinely underfunded to such an extent that it must continually search for additional revenue. Our parks should not be regarded as assets that can be leased to increasingly crass commercial enterprise and vulgar public relations stunts.

The proposed Union Sq. playground expansion should not be held hostage to a commercial venture. Union Sq. Park currently does not permit mobile food vendors within its confines. We suggest that the Parks Department explore the financial benefits of allowing a reasonable number of these venders into this park as it has elsewhere.

While the G.V.B.A. endorses the improvement and expansion of Union Sq.’s playgrounds, we do not believe that such renovations should be contingent upon permitting a restaurant to annex a section of our public space.

Marilyn Dorato
Dorato is secretary and presiding officer, Greenwich Village Block Associations

Police treated seniors the finest

To The Editor:
We want to thank the Sixth Precinct for its wonderful generous gift to The Caring Community, the largest  agency serving senior citizens in Downtown Manhattan.

A week ago, our policemen and women spent their time off collecting donated food from local merchants and cooking a delicious roast beef dinner for our seniors. Santa Claus passed out presents provided by our police hosts. The spirit of the holidays filled the room.

The proceeds were donated to the work of The Caring Community. At this holiday time, we are especially concerned about our seniors, many of whom are alone and unable to find joy in this season. Following the example of our police, you can help. Remember your older neighbors in need and send a check to:

The Caring Community,
20 Washington Square North
New York, NY 10011
or call Paul O’Brien, interim executive director, at 212-777-3555 to volunteer.

Many thanks and Happy Holidays.

Jane Pasanen
Pasanen is board chairperson, The Caring Community

Slow down, you move too fast

To The Editor:
Our mayor shies away from no expense to attract more tourists — including having Christo wrap Central Park. However, New York streets are raceways, every car trying to beat a light and rushing through the yellow, if not red. Cars zip around corners, cutting off pedestrians, fractions of inches short of mowing them down.

If that was not bad enough, sidewalks team with racing bicycles and in the streets they come from any and all directions, utterly ignoring any traffic rules.

Add in-line skaters, skateboarding kids, mothers pushing strollers while practicing for sprinting, wheelchairs that go faster and faster — I, at 72, am beginning to fear the streets.

I love bicycling and have bicycled a lot. However, in Europe, where I come from, bicycles are registered and obey traffic laws. You will not find a bicyclist on a sidewalk.

The other day on an Amtrak train — yes, I made it to the station — I picked up the Nov. 18 edition of the Philadelphia Daily News, The People Paper. There, on the front page I found: “CALM DOWN! Other towns use cheap, effective ‘traffic calming’ near schools — why doesn’t Philly?”

I clipped the article. Speed bumps — yes, speed bumps are a quick and fast solution.

I walk in the park, there, too, constantly in the midst of speeding bicyclists, in-line skaters, skateboard kids, sprinting mothers and fathers with sprint baby carriages, wheelchairs.

I personally know seven people who have been seriously injured by speeding cars — suffered much pain and long-term impairment.

I’m looking for the New York Times item from a few days ago: “Retired Nun Is Killed by Truck in Chelsea.” Almost daily I see some such item.

The only thing I could say to the tourists who are overrunning the city — proceed at great risk. Smoking may have been banned indoors — killing people outdoors with cars and bicycles is a favorite New York sport.

Landre Goldscheider

Birds can be overwhelming

To The Editor:
Re “Free bird: Animal rescue has Cornelia St. aflutter” (notebook, by Terry J. Allen, Nov. 17):

“Animal rescue on Cornelia St.” article had me riveted. Migratory bird stories and the residence in the city of some red-tailed hawks sometimes has me confused in what birds to watch.

H. Keenan

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