Letters to the editor

Doctoroff doubts on West

To The Editor:
Bravo to those of you who have stepped forward to challenge the governor for announcing the tunnel decision on West St. without bothering to seek community input.  I agree with Dep. Mayor Daniel Doctoroff’s expression of doubt as to whether this would be the best use of $1 billion in federal aid (“Pataki commits to Downtown timeline,” news article, April 29 – May 5, 2003).  These are such dire financial times for all governments. (I was just in Albany with 50,000 other teachers rallying for the signing of the education bill.)  I, along with most Battery Park City residents, oppose the tunnel decision. 

Please continue to question and challenge the tunnel scheme.  West St. will become a nightmare as massive traffic is backed up to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel exits.  I can see the caption in 2007: Questionable completion time, what were they thinking?    

Jean Silliman

Asbestos risks

To the Editor:
Thanks once more to Elizabeth O’Brien for her article on asbestos at Independence Plaza (“Asbestos found in I.P.N., after E.P.A. cleanup,” news article, May 6 –12, 2003).  Readers should also know that the one in ten thousand cancer risk standard which the Environmental Protection Agency is using in Lower Manhattan is a hundred times higher than the one they normally employ for Superfund sites.  The leaked report from the E.P.A.’s own Inspector General reads:

  “E.P.A.’s conclusion that the air was safe was based on a 1 in 10,000 risk that someone will develop cancer from exposure to the W.T.C. pollutants, and this was only for a limited set of pollutants of concern. For air toxics, the E.P.A. traditionally used a one in one million level as the definition of acceptable risk (they do not use the term “safe”), and one in 100,000 as the action level used when a regulated industry must undertake immediate corrective actions to abate health risks.”

  We find it unacceptable that the E.P.A. abandoned its traditional standards when it came to assessing the health risks of exposure to the toxic contaminants from the World Trade Center. 

Jenna Orkin and Nina Lavin,
Members of the 9/11 Environmental Action Steering Committee

Park Row closure

To The Editor:
Chatham Towers and Chatham Green, two residential complexes next to Police Headquarters were forced to file a lawsuit over the unprecedented taking of Park Row (“Chinatown Searching for Answers on Park Row,” April 22-28) and the proposed installation of pop-up barriers that would block access to Chatham Green’s driveway and Chatham Towers’ handicap ramp. The closing of Park Row, a major north-south artery that connects Chinatown to the financial and shopping districts of Downtown, and the subsequent forcing of five lanes of traffic from the Bowery, Mott, St. James, Oliver and East Broadway onto congested Worth St., is an assault on the safety, health and quality of life of thousands of residents east of the Civic Center.

Emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks have lost their swiftest access to our homes and businesses. Many users of hospital emergency rooms use car services rather than ambulances and are also caught in this slow, snaking traffic. The resulting congestion not only increases air and noise pollution but also increases the hazards of crossing the streets by our young as well as seniors. All this has been done without review of the impact on our community for the past 19 months.

With the proposed installation of pop-up barriers north of the driveway of Chatham Green and the handicap ramp of Chatham Towers, all visitors driving vehicles will be forced to show identification at a police checkpoint or be turned away - this includes not only emergency vehicles but also Access-a-Rides, as well as family, friends or patients being dropped off at ground floor medical offices. Many seniors have expressed concerns about the elaborate procedures that must be made in order to arrange for car services or visitors with vehicles to their homes. We feel like we are living in a military encampment. We are asking the N.Y.P.D. and city to show cause why this action is necessary and for how long?

I, and many others, do not want to see our children grow up with pop-up steel plates clanging a few feet outside our windows and doors with the arrival and departure of each police authorized vehicle on Park Row. Our street is not only guarded by two police vehicles, our sidewalk is littered with broken, wooden police barriers, concrete Jersey barriers and hot tub sized, empty concrete containers that sometimes force us to walk single file to our front doors. Our street is already home to a large federal checkpoint with bomb-sniffing dogs, enormous dog trailer and dog run. How would others feel if they were in our position?

I applaud the hundreds of Chatham Towers, Chatham Green, Confucius, Smith Houses and Southbridge Towers residents, neighborhood friends, business and community organizations who have been forced to repeatedly fill a rally site, town halls, community board meetings and now standing room only courthouse room to demand the re-opening of Park Row. We applaud Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Senator Martin Connor, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, and Councilman Alan Gerson for joining us in forum after forum to support our efforts and for joining us in our lawsuit.

We also thank Congressman Jerrold Nadler and Comptroller William Thompson for their continued support.

We are asking for the same post 9/11 rights and quality of life that other citizens enjoy in this city. Re-open Park Row — give back our streets because we are not giving up.

Jeanie Chin


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