Letters To The Editor

Chinatown tour problems

To The Editor:
I am a New York City tour guide who for many years has delighted in bringing my tour groups into Chinatown. The current situation about illegally parked personal police cars on Park Row (I am referring to Park Row above Worth and Mott Sts.) combined with the presence of an overzealous and absolutely insensitive traffic officer at the intersection of the streets mentioned above, has made bringing people into Chinatown a near impossibility.

There is  no legal place for us to let people off a motorcoach near the center of Chinatown without the risk of getting a ticket. My driver got a $105 ticket for double parking on Park Row the other day.  I promised the driver I would fight the ticketing and if I lost then I would pay it. First, we weren’t double parking but were just dropping people off for less than a minute. Secondly, we couldn’t pull over to the curb which is supposed to be available for trucks loading and unloading because the entire street was filled with these cops’ personal cars. A truck behind us that was delivering goods to a restaurant also got a ticket. This is outrageous. Our mayor made a big deal about bringing people back to Chinatown with his little lunch sorti but nothing has been done to make it easier for us to bring people there (news article, April 22-28, 2003, “Chinatown searching for answers on Park Row”). You mean to tell me that word can’t be put out by the mayor and/or the police commissioner to traffic officers to give tour busses a break if they are loading or unloading in Chinatown (or anyplace else for that matter)?

This one cop who apparently makes it her mission to nail anyone on that corner is responsible for keeping literally thousands of tourists from visiting Chinatown. All the tour guides I know feel the same way about this — it’s just not worth the hassle and risk to “do Chinatown” anymore. Leaders in the Chinatown community also know about this cop and are as frustrated as I am. Can’t anything be done about her? Or about all the cars illegally parked there? The cops will say they are “on the job.” This argument is absurd. They are driving in from Long Island or other places from outside N.Y.C. and they are simply parking their cars there because it’s convenient. Chinatown’s people and economy need all the help they can get and so far it appears that the current administration feels a nice photo-op at a restaurant is sufficient instead of doing something as simple and practical as making it easier for tour busses with their thousands of people to visit Chinatown.
David Melville
Owner of All About The Town

Construction dust

To The Editor:
I would like to add something about the importance of environmental health issues during the construction phase and the importance of air protection to your article “Gerson outlines plan for his Downtown district” by Josh Rogers (news article, May 13-19, 2003).

A simple and inexpensive method of keeping construction dust to a minimum is to run a water truck at the World Trade Center site and along the nearby streets, particularly those under renovation.  This routine and necessary protocol is necessary since some residents may have an increased sensitivity to dust after 9/11.
Catherine McVay Hughes
Veteran view of tunnel

To The Editor:
I am concerned about the impact of constructing a tunnel below West St. along the World Trade Center site, as it is currently envisioned and proposed. Present plans call for ramps that will cut off existing routes into Battery Park City and will further disrupt the lives of residents who have already lived through enough turmoil.

The residents of Lower Manhattan saw the loss of the World Trade Center practically in their back yards. They’ve lived with the aftermath of that tragedy daily, to include a very long period of time when they were cut off from the rest of the city except for a few narrow corridors in and out. While mass transit in the area is still not back up to where it was, it’s not impossible. Isolating Battery Park City by construction additional to what will be required to rebuild the W.T.C. site is not in the city’s best interests. I am also concerned about what will happen when construction is finished and the lower part of Battery Park City is effectively cut off from the rest of New York City.

I understand that Battery Park City residents are sometimes perceived by other New Yorkers as affluent and jealous of their turf. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I’m a prime example. If I was anything even approaching affluent I probably wouldn’t still be in the Army Reserve, deployed thousands of miles from home in the deserts of Kuwait and Iraq. (I’m not saying that the armed forces are populated by poor people, of course.) What I am trying to show is that the people who live in Battery Park City are just like the rest of the population; cutting across the spectrum of blue and white collar workers that make the city what it is.

Please understand that I am one of those who wants to see the World Trade Center rebuilt, in some form, to resurrect the strength and courage of New York, New Yorkers, and the U.S. at large. I like the idea of submerging part of West St. and opening up the southwest corner of Manhattan to all. But I fear that current proposals will have the exact opposite effect.
Lt. Col. Mark Kimmey
Camp Commando, Kuwait

C.B. 1 appointments

To The Editor:
In January of 2002 I applied to be a member of Community Board 1. Applicants are volunteering to donate a significant amount of time for the betterment of their neighborhoods. I was interviewed in a large group where we did a case study on the opening of a methadone clinic. I was not a successful candidate, and received a nice letter from Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields telling me this.

In October I was asked to apply again as there were many openings on C.B. 1 due to members having left the board. I was interviewed with a small group where we were asked our opinions about current issues before C.B. 1. We were promised that we would be called personally very soon. Months passed and no one contacted me. In February, in response to another inquiry as to the status of my application, I was told that I had to apply again as Ms. Fields had blocked interim appointments. It would have been nice and even polite if someone had let me know this.

I reapplied, and was called for an interview (methadone clinic case). We were told we would be contacted about our success or failure to be picked for the Board. Imagine my shock when I find out from the April 29th issue of Downtown Express the names of the new members (news article, “12 new members join Community Board 1”). To this date I have not had the courtesy of a letter from Ms. Fields.

I consider this to be volunteer abuse. The process of applying to help one’s community should be more open. What/who are they looking for? If you are in favor of methadone clinics, as I stated at two board meetings, should you not apply? If your issues are environmental, should you opt out? Whatever the answer to those questions may be; those of us who volunteer should be informed of the decisions made about our applications before we read about it in the press. That is the least required by common courtesy and professionalism.
Caroline Martin
Family Association of Tribeca East

Artists and park vendors

To The Editor:
Re “New bill would limit vendors in Battery Park” (news article, April 22 –28, 2003):

City Councilmember Alan Gerson hit the nail on the head when he said some of the new vendor regulations can be accomplished without permits, or certificates.

Artists have copyrights on their own work, sign their own work, and must carry a tax I.D. while displaying their own work in public. Therefore this legal group is capable of positive identification right now. They can clearly illustrate their qualifications for First Amendment protections very easily without the costly taxpayer funded oversight bureaucracy that artist’s permits require.

However those who sell other peoples’ artwork must be able to prove they have the right to do so. The First Amendment is not a license to steal. Artists, and consumers need protections from copyright thieves, and pirates. This is a central issue. There would be a dramatic reduction in sidewalk overcrowding if original artists, and certified art dealers are allowed to display their art work in public without the onslaught of illegal merchandise vendors, bootleggers, copyright thieves, and pirates who set up multiple displays over saturating public display areas and crowding original artists out. Since overcrowding is a major issue with most local people (as it obviously is with Parks Commissioner Benepe), why not go with the sure system that is already available to us (based on the Library of Congress model of artist I.D.), and do the job without costly, restrictive, unnecessary, and unconstitutional artists permits. The only people who will win with artist permits are those who will sue the city after all of the inevitable protests, arrests, and lawsuits.

That sort of scenario does not work for authentic artists, and I doubt much of the rest of the community wants this result either. Lets play it smart here, work together, and make the thoughtful choice for our community, and our artists.
Lawrence White
Lawrence White is a member of the Art Advisory Subcommittee, a group that was formed by Councilmember Alan Gerson.


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