Volume 18 • Issue 24 | Oct. 28 - Nov. 3, 2005

Letters to the editor

Ins-Pier-ed by column

To The Editor:
Kate Walter’s recent story, “Saying goodbye to funkiness on Tribeca’s piers” (Downtown Notebook, Oct. 21 – 27), has inspired a call for entries of all ages for a limited printing of “Pier Memories,” a funky, spur-of-the-moment book echoing stories like Kate’s to preserve the memory of Pier 25. Impending changes foreseeable, we want to insure that a community line remains intact for the pier’s reopening. From the debris of the past to the Amazon Club — bungee jumping Wall Streeters — golf driving range — historical boat basin and sculpture park, the Hudson River Trust will be put on notice that several groups have been formed and are watching to “take back the pier” if unnecessary restrictions are imposed upon its native and guest visitors. For information on how to submit, e-mail tribecanative@aol.com.

Nicole Bartelme
Nicole Bartelme lived on ships docked at Pier 25 for eight years.

Soccer roster problems

To The Editor:
I was a long-time board member of the Downtown Little League, and I have been an assistant coach for many years in the Downtown Soccer League.  So, I read the recent article, “Soccer coaches stack teams, some argue” (news article, Oct. 7 – 13) with great interest, having long believed that creating balanced teams was the most important issue facing the D.L.L. (outside of the extremely poor design of the Battery Park ballfields, which will have to be the topic of another letter). 

The goal of any recreational league is to help develop individual and team skills to make the sport enjoyable for the kids.  Players who want to play at a higher level can join travel teams and other organizations that are more competitive (and often have more “problem parents and coaches”) than recreational leagues.  Thankfully, our leagues have had very, very few “problem parents and coaches,” but more can be done to make things fairer for all the teams.  By the way, creating balanced teams is not a form of parity, and it does not diminish competition.  All kids, no matter their athletic abilities, want to win – that’s the correct attitude – but all players get more out of the sport when the games are closely played and every team has a reasonable chance to win.

I have known Don Schuck and Mark Costello for some time, and both are men of the highest integrity.  You can take their word that they make considerable efforts to create balanced teams, and I know from experience that there isn’t some secret backroom where coaches with the inside track get to stack their teams.  Putting teams together is, as Don said in the article, “an inexact science,” and it probably always will be.  However, I believe that “social rostering” is one thing that contributes to competitive imbalance in the leagues.  In recent years, D.L.L. has tried to limit it, except at the Tee Ball level, and the hope is that eventually the league will reap the benefits.

The teammate request and keeping friends (and coaches) together sounds good in theory, but it gives the more established coaches a big advantage, with the result being that a couple of teams are cobbled together at the end — and they always become the “doormats of the league,” as the article points out.  What happens is “cabals” are formed, and the perennially successful teams (in soccer, they often have travel team players) become difficult to break-up.  In Tee Ball, it’s not an issue, but once you get beyond that division, wins and losses become more important to team and individual morale. 

I would argue that most of the kids in our leagues already know each other, and they will be friends whether they are on the same team or not.  In the D.L.L. application letter, there is usually some language stating that teammate requests are not guaranteed, and that the league encourages players to make new friends on whichever team they wind up with.  In school, I don’t think kids get to pick which class they will be in, yet they somehow make new friends every year; the same rationale should apply to our leagues.  In the end, the most important thing is to have leagues that give all kids an opportunity to learn a sport, enjoy it, and to be on a team that has a fair chance of success.

JC Chmiel

Downtown advocate

To The Editor:
Jack Lynch, in his letter in the October 14 - 20 issue of the Downtown Express, could not be more wrong in his assessment of David Stanke (Letters, “A welcome exit”). Dave and I are good friends and neighbors in our building at the W.T.C. site. We fought together for three years to bring our building back from the horrendous damage and contamination it suffered; we have made serious commitments to this neighborhood; we stayed and we are here to make it viable. After 9/11, we thought we had lost everything, our homes, and what had been our lives. I cannot compare our misfortune with families who lost husbands, wives, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, parents. I understand that their grief is profound and that their loved ones should never, ever be forgotten and a memorial needs to be built that will last for eternity. But the kind of accusations that Mr. Lynch made about Dave are without merit and completely false. After 9/11, Dave had to find a home for his family, including four small children, and to say he was planning to “benefit himself and his cronies” is ridiculous. He is totally dedicated to improving the lives of everyone who live and work in Downtown Manhattan. If anyone can understand the significance of 9/11, it is Dave Stanke and others who are involved in caring for and healing this severely wounded community.

If we are to rebuild the site, and that is what the vast majority of Downtown individuals — those of us who see and experience the W.T.C. site everyday of our lives — wish to do, then we need a much greater sense of compassion from everyone who suffered the consequences of that day. The greatest testament to those who were murdered that day is to rebuild, better than ever, and not to obstruct and sling mud at those dedicated to a beautiful, vibrant, rebuilt Downtown Manhattan. We need to show the world that we will rise from the ashes.

Steven Abramson

Mocking democracy

To The Editor:
Re “Freedom Center decision proves democracy works” (Talking Point, Oct. 14 – 20):

I disagree with Rachel Snyder’s entire characterization of the triumph of anti-Freedom Center forces, but also more importantly with her portrayal of democracy. She neither addresses the heart of the issue (the un-democratic decision to remove the Freedom Center) nor does she see that her decision to rally against it resulted not in moving closer to a “living memorial,” but further away. Certainly, citizens having the right to object to the placement of the Freedom Center is a demonstration of a healthy democracy, but how the decision came about to ax the Freedom Center, was emphatically not. The Freedom Center was voted on almost two years ago and it was accepted. The decision to remove it was an act that made a mockery of democracy in that instance. From the outside, it appears to have been ousted by cowardly and grasping politicians who cannot bear to say no to the grieving 9/11 families. Governor Pataki’s high-handed and procedurally questionable intervention was a betrayal of the democracy that Ms. Snyder claims to have been vindicated. Of course, not all those in opposition to the Freedom Center were 9/11 families, but if you are honest with yourself, you will admit that from a media and political standpoint, they were the only ones that ever mattered in that decision.

The Freedom Center was “the” opportunity for the people of New York City to look forward into the future. It was the opportunity to educate ourselves, and our children, and our children’s children not only about what happened that day, but how that day relates to their lives in 2020 or 2100. It was an opportunity to demonstrate our love for our country by looking at our present with an objective eye. It was a moment where we could have shown future generations that we are not self-serving Americans bogged-down in our own grief and unable to move forward.

Before the Freedom Center and the Drawing Center were removed, there was already a 9/11 museum planned dealing solely with that terrible day. It is true not every story can be told, but unfortunately as Dave Stanke argues, we can guess which ones will be chosen and which ones will not.

But what I truly fail to understand is how anyone can claim that to discuss the struggle of freedom or how democracy works (or doesn’t work) is disrespectful to the dead. The removal of two respectful institutions leads me to believe that George Bush’s “If you aren’t with us, you are against us” mentality has now taken over the discussions concerning ground zero. What brings me the greatest despair today is that that dreadful and horrific day has become the motivation for abandoning our principles under the guise of freedom and that people are actually making the error of equating that motivation with democracy.

Susan C. Fox

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