Letters, week of March 28, 2012

Don’t reopen Greenwich Street  

To The Editor: 
Re: Cab drivers, locals protest W.T.C. security plan (Downtown Express article, March 21, 2012):

Restoring Greenwich Street and reintroducing traffic to the World Trade Center site was never a good idea. It ignored why the site needed redevelopment in the first place. While the rest of the city was placing huge concrete planters and other obstructions to blockade pedestrian thoroughfares and plazas from traffic and potential vehicular bombs, and closing off parts of Times Square and Herald Square to traffic, the plan at the W.T.C., the very site of the terrorist attacks, was to reintroduce roads and traffic to a former pedestrian plaza. The extent of hubris exhibited here is mind-boggling. The plan was grossly irresponsible. The solution — the only solution — is to close Greenwich  and Fulton Streets, eliminating the need for checkpoints. The planners and downtown officials have to finally, over ten years after the fact, acknowledge the attacks and include that in their planning. Instead they have wasted billions of taxpayers’ money trying to pretend they never happened.
Michael Burke

Preserve history at Pier 17

To The Editor:
Re: Howard Hughes unveils new Pier 17 plan (Downtown Express article, March 14, 2012):

This article was about the new plan to “revitalize” and “redevelop” the South Street Seaport, the historical landmark that defines our neighborhood. Perhaps you believe it is a good idea and intend to support the plan. I wish to inform you and your readers of an alternative viewpoint contrary to the demands of corporations and tourists.

I am a lifelong resident of 100 Beekman St., which is situated in Community Board 1 and is no more than three or four blocks from the site of the intended project. I have grown up around the South Street Seaport and its environs. To me, and perhaps to others, it is a glowing symbol of the progress our city has made since the advent of the steam boat by Robert Fulton in the 1860s. As the original intention of the Seaport was a historical district and a museum, the setting is supposed to invoke a sense of what life would have been like during the Seaport’s heyday in the mid-1800s. Save for the Pier 17 mall and the commercial stores on Fulton Street between Water Street and South Street, it does just that. The Seaport in its current form reminds the people who visit it that New York was a city built on sea-faring vessels docking in this harbor and affecting trade, something that much of the remainder of the Manhattan waterfront has seemingly disregarded as an “unfashionable” relic of the past.

Unfortunately, the company that owns the South Street Seaport, the Howard Hughes Corporation, has decided that the South Street Seaport should go the way of the factories in the Meatpacking District. They have decided that the Seaport should be reborn as a modern glass structure with “high-end stores and restaurants.” In its current form, this plan should be an affront to the morals of any New Yorker with a sense of historic decency tantamount to the relocation of the Fulton Fish Market. As we all know, New York is already one the world’s premier shopping destinations. A quick walk down Fulton Street or Broadway will undoubtedly show you that, in New York, we have anything that a person could possibly want. What we do not need in our community is another branch of the ubiquitous L.L. Bean or Saks Fifth Avenue. What we do desperately need in this city is to preserve one of our last remaining historical piers. This plan is simply another step in the quest to “sterilize” New York City by removing all of its “gritty” old-world remnants and glossing them over to appeal to the moneyed suburbanite commuters and tourists rather than the residents. If we continue down this path of obliterating our treasured history, this city could wind up like any planned community in Middle America: a sea of strip-malls and no culture to be seen anywhere.

I may not be speaking for the entirety of Community Board 1, but I most certainly do not want to see the city I know and love become another Phoenix.
Benjamin Picariello 

Squatters didn’t cause this

To The Editor:
Re: “Reflections of an Old Freak in the new East Village” (Talking Point by Bill Weinberg, March 14, 2012):

Culture never dies or is erased. It is just transformed and forced to relocate into more suitable terrain to live to fight another day. To suggest — even ironically — that “squatters were the vanguard” of gentrification is ludicrous, given that those who were truly drawn to it were certainly not the bankers and real estate profiteers. Sure, people gravitate to life, fun and truth as sure as a bee to honey. But who can blame them?

The sad part is that more folks didn’t heed the call — the fatalists, the sorry politicians, the stuffy leftists and all those who thought it was impossible. We did what we had to do and what was called for. Suggesting we brought on the yuppies is like saying we shouldn’t cure an illness ’cause we’re gonna die anyway!

It’s still true: Gentrification is genocide! Homelessness under Bloomberg has increased, and at this very moment there are way more vacant spaces than there are homeless!

Culture never dies. Need a home? Take one! Squat the world!
Frank Morales

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