Letters to the editor

West St. traffic

To The Editor:
When I attended a meeting at Sheldon Silver’s office at 250 Broadway several months ago to hear what the Dept. of Transportation and Community Board 1 had to say about the West St. tunnel proposal I was shocked.  All along I was led to believe that the tunnel would allow more area for open space, since the lanes of traffic for a certain distance along West St. would be buried underground.  What I heard baffled me.  The tunnel project included lanes of traffic to be built above the ground as well.  The proposal calls for a certain number of lanes of traffic underground and four lanes of traffic above ground.  What’s the point?  If there are going to be lanes of traffic above ground, why the tunnel?  To me it seems like a colossal waste of money, so that we can have just two less lanes of traffic on West St. above ground.  My thoughts when I left the meeting?  What a joke.  Why don’t the politicians focus on things that make sense. 

By the way.  I am a Battery Park City resident.  Nine out of 10 people I talk to who live here don’t want the tunnel.  Your editorial (“Poll brings focus to West St. questions,” May 27 –June 2, 2003) that suggests that a majority of local residents are not against the tunnel is wrong.

Marshal Coleman

Tunnel poll

To The Editor:
Re: “Downtown favors West St. tunnel, poll says” (news article, May 27 - June 2, 2003):

The conclusion presented in the above article, namely that the majority of Downtown residents including those in Battery Park City support a short West St. vehicular tunnel, is invalid because it was based on a poll question whose wording was highly biased. The poll takers had the opportunity to ask a question that could have been answered with a simple “yes” or “no,” such as, “Do you favor the construction of a short vehicular tunnel adjacent to the World Trade Center site?” They elected not to do so. Instead, they asked the question in the form, “How important is it that a short vehicular tunnel be constructed adjacent to the World Trade Center site?” (or words substantially to that effect). The form of their question carried the implication and the presumption that the tunnel is important, and the person being polled was merely being asked to determine the degree of importance. Nowhere was the person being polled given the option to state unequivocal opposition to the tunnel. That is particularly relevant in this case because the governor has publicly decreed that a tunnel will be built, and the wording of the question may have reinforced the impression of some people that an expression of opposition is no longer meaningful or appropriate.

It seems obvious that whoever designed this West St. poll question had the objective of pushing the reported responses toward a favored (pro-tunnel) conclusion. Why otherwise would the poll have avoided asking the question in a form that would elicit a simple “yes” or “no” answer? With the latter approach, a follow-up question could have been asked of those who answered “yes” to gauge the degree of their support.

Even given the biased nature of the poll question, however, it is noteworthy that the most negative response that could be given to the question outpolled the most positive one by more than a 4 to 1 margin (42% vs. 10%) in Battery Park City. This would not be the pattern seen in a community where a majority supported the tunnel. Your presumption that the people in the middle whose answers were more ambivalent are all tunnel supporters defies reason. Those of us who live in Battery Park City and talk to our neighbors about this issue are confident that an unbiased question would have revealed that a strong majority of Battery Park City residents opposes a short West St. tunnel.

The headline generated by the biased question also obscured the most important result of the poll with respect to West St. — the fact that the tunnel came in a distant fourth when people were asked to rank five Downtown transportation priorities. Only 10 percent of Downtown residents named a West St. vehicular tunnel as the number one priority for Downtown transportation. Three times as many (30%) named direct transit to airports and Long Island, and almost four times as many (39%) named improved east/west access for pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

Finally, too much emphasis on polling results obscures the fact that there are numerous questions that must be answered by Gov. Pataki to the satisfaction of local residents before any tunnel should be built. It is not enough for the governor to simply decree that a tunnel will be built. Even his fellow Republicans in the legislature have rebelled at that approach. All Downtown residents, regardless of their current views on a West St. tunnel, should join together to demand that Gov. Pataki deal publicly with the issues and questions regarding the impact of such a tunnel.

Bill Love
Vice chairperson of Coalition to Save West Street

Ferry terminal

To The Editor:
I live in Tribeca about four blocks from the World Trade Center with my husband and 3-year-old daughter. Like many other families in the area, we went through difficult times following the 9/11 tragedy.

After the clean up of the parks and playgrounds, things seemed to have only recently gotten back to normal for the kids in the area. As you know, the kids were not able to play in the sandboxes and parks for several months for fear of contamination and many families moved away because of unknown environmental risks remaining in Downtown. This is the first spring since 9/11 that the park seems to have come back to life.

A new problem has arisen however, of great concern to all the moms and families in the area. The city has for some reason decided to construct a dock or pier for the Hudson River ferries positioned directly across from the only playground in Rockefeller Park ( news article, May 27 – June 2, 2003, “Petition begins against new ferry terminal”). This threatens to again pollute the air where our children play after it had already been polluted for so long following 9/11. It seems to me that to set up a transportation facility like this within fifty yards of a playground where small children play is incredibly dangerous to the kids also because it will increase the transient traffic in the area which, in this day and age of rampant child abductions and disappearances, seems an absurdly foolish and unnecessary risk to take. The boats are an obvious attraction to the children who could easily be lured to them and wander off with a stranger.

I do not know how the decision to make a pier so close to a playground was made but it certainly was made without any regard to the numerous small children that live and play in this area or without any input from the families. Why should these kids be put in harm’s way or placed at risk after all that they have been through? It seems to me the city should be going out of its way to make them safe and keep them healthy. The city should expand the playground for these kids, not make the existing one less safe and more polluted.

Maria Cardelli.

Park Row and the mayor

To The Editor:
David Melville’s letter concerning the impossibility of parking tour buses in Chinatown, or even dropping people off for a minute, points to the ever growing disparity between real needs, and official policies and politicians who negate the genuine concerns of the community (letters, May 20 – 26, 2003).

As you sow, so shall you reap, has become a subversive statement.

You cannot deny thousands of tourists the right to descend from a motorcoach, and then expect business to miraculously resurrect itself in Chinatown because celebrities have their photographs taken in local restaurants, unless you have lost all your marbles, i.e. awareness that actions have consequences.

The abject lack of cooperation between the mayor’s office, the N.Y.P.D., and the people living and working in Chinatown, speaks for the necessity of a change from the present regime based on elitism and callous disregard for the powerless.

Shelly Estrin


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