downtownexpress.com
Volume 19 | Issue 32 | December 22 - 28, 2006

Letters to the Editor

Praising Gerson

To The Editor:
We were startled to read Dave Stanke’s recent jibe at Alan Gerson’s leadership on youth issues and the battle of the ballfields in particular (Talking Point, Dec. 15 – 21, “Hey Alan, you represent me and my neighbors”).

Let’s be clear: Alan Gerson is the Derek Jeter of Downtown — an M.V.P. year-in, year-out.

A number of political figures have fought for the leagues. Kudos should go to C.B. 1 chairperson Julie Menin and, of course, our own flesh-and-blood Rushmore, Speaker Sheldon Silver, among others. But even on this all-star team, Alan stands out as a friend and defender. He and his staff are amazing.

I have enjoyed Mr. Stanke’s commentary these past five years. Mr. Stanke is cutting, smart, and committed. But in the case of Alan Gerson, he is also completely mistaken.

Mark Costello
Downtown Little League president


To The Editor:
I couldn’t disagree more with David Stanke’s cursory and poorly-supported rant against Alan Gerson. Alan was the first supporter of 3-Legged Dog’s 9/11 recovery and has stuck with us day to day, crisis to crisis through thick and thin at no small political risk since day one of his tenure.

Gerson’s district was one of the most complex and difficult to balance before 9/11. After 9/11, national and state-level grandstanding and corporate opportunism made it an almost impossible environment for a local representative to navigate. Nonetheless, Alan continued to work publicly and behind the scenes on behalf of many who were cut out of the power brokering, including residents, small businesses, non-profits, children and arts and culture groups.

3-Legged Dog would not have survived the attack or the political complications that followed quickly on its heels without the steadfast aid of Alan and his staff. And we certainly wouldn’t have been able to build a new non-profit arts center in the Liberty Zone. Alan has worked hard on our behalf, both behind the scenes as a good-faith broker and as a hard-nosed defender. Without Alan’s help we wouldn’t be here. With his help we have 21 artists’ residencies and six festivals scheduled for 2007-2008, an international touring consortium in place and a new business model for the arts that works.

Kevin Cunningham
Executive artistic director, 3-Legged Dog Art & Technology Center


To The Editor:
On Sept. 15, 2001, I organized the first community gathering on the Canal St. basketball courts after the attacks. In putting together this effort amid the chaos and smoke, Alan Gerson was the first person I called. He was not yet a city councilmember. I knew Alan as a tireless worker on Community Board 2 and since the gathering I organized was on the C.B. 2 border, I needed some help.

Since that date, Alan, as a city councilmember, has been asked to give a superhuman effort coordinating, making decisions, and confronting issues no city councilmember has ever had to do. It is easy to criticize in difficult times from the sidelines.

I was invited as a community person to visit and see the aftermath of the war in Sarajevo. One of the things I learned is that immediately after a disaster, there is nearly complete local unity, but years later it can turn into arguing and backbiting. Dave Stanke need not begin to accuse Alan of not representing residents over family members. Not only is this untrue on the issues, but we can resist pitting community residents against victims of 9/11.

We are still recovering. We are still debating issues. And Dave Stanke is a very articulate and an important member of our community. We appreciate him writing on issues. But to accuse Alan of not being community-oriented because of murals, admission prices to the memorial and other World Trade Center issues is wrong.

If Alan is overly generous to the victims of 9/11 it is because, as my wife says, he has a huge heart. He wants everyone to get along. I will let others speak of Alan Gerson’s involvement on issues. For the record, I am satisfied that Alan supports me, my family and my community with great integrity and competence.

Bob Townley
Manhattan Youth executive director, Community Board 1 member


Chinatown’s advocate

To The Editor:
Re “Chinatown fighter-ship” (UnderCover, Dec. 15 – 21):

Over the past year, the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation launched many successful programs and major public events aimed at creating a new atmosphere of hope and vitality in Chinatown. 

During the summer, we launched Clean Streets, a comprehensive cleaning and street maintenance program, hiring more than 20 local men and women to tackle Chinatown’s number one issue. We provide the workers with training, medical insurance, paid vacation and retirement plans. Clean Streets workers have already bagged over 650 tons of trash. Clean Streets was also responsible for painting over 600 light poles and over 200 hydrants, power-washing sidewalks, and alerting the Dept. of Transportation to potholes and broken curbs.

This fall, we attracted thousands of visitors to Lunar Stages and Taste of Chinatown.  Held over four evenings, Lunar Stages was the first outdoor arts and film festival in Chinatown.  Merchants reported an increase in business during those evenings.  We sponsor Taste of Chinatown twice a year, and in October we attracted over 100,000 people on a Saturday afternoon — the largest crowd in recent memory. 

By engaging residents and leaders from business, culture and government, we are revitalizing Chinatown and helping to define its place in New York City’s economy. We are advocates for Chinatown, including testifying before the City Council and meeting with various agencies to push for more public and private investment in Chinatown’s aging infrastructure and public parks, cultural institutions and economic development agencies. We recently led an effort to persuade D.O.T. to create 180 additional parking spaces by installing muni-meters on Canal St., where parking was once prohibited.

Our mission is to improve the conditions in Chinatown that will encourage local businesses to grow and prosper and to preserve the unique cultural heritage that will make Chinatown a model of a successful community to live, work and play.

Wellington Chen
Executive director, Chinatown Partnership


Preservation limits

To The Editor:
I have been watching with interest the volley of letters that have gone back and forth these past several weeks regarding the preservation of World Trade Center remnants and bedrock. So far, all of the letters have been from 9/11 family members, so I thought I’d offer my two cents as someone who works two blocks from the site.

I am not against such preservation on principle. However, it cannot be a higher priority than public health and safety, the general well being of the surrounding neighborhoods, or the need to remember 9/11 in a way that will help future generations understand what happened there. To me it is abundantly obvious that for some people, preservation has taken precedence over all three.

Barry Zelman writes in his most recent letter that, “The most poignant memorials that truly move people are the ones that have been kept intact, or built to replicate the condition that existed” (Letters Dec. 1 – 7). I couldn’t agree more, which is why I’m baffled by his focus on tiny remnants that will mean nothing to the vast majority of people who visit the site. They may be able to understand intellectually what they are, but it won’t help their understanding of 9/11 in any way because it won’t convey the scale of the W.T.C. and the attacks that destroyed it.

The current plans for redevelopment at the site are completely unlike the W.T.C. If people are so devoted to creating a poignant memorial, then why not push for redevelopment that, in Mr. Zelman’s words, will more closely “replicate the condition that existed?”

These letters have been going around in an endless loop that doesn’t seem to have accomplished anything, and I don’t wish to get drawn in. Therefore, if someone wishes to reply to me, please contact me at resnyder27@yahoo.com.

Rachel Snyder


Southbridge windfall

To The Editor:
Re Letter by Margaret Cooney (Dec. 1 – 7):

Ms. Margaret Cooney expresses her feeling that we Mitchell-Lama co-op shareholders are entitled to a windfall, meaning hundreds of thousands of dollars in her apartment value.

She doesn’t believe that all the time she dwelt in Southbridge Towers under state support with tax abatements and low-cost mortgages and less expensive garage spaces, she was already getting a windfall. Her fellow pro-privatizers saved so much money over the years that they were able to invest bigger and, in some cases, to buy alternate homes in other states.

Such people want us to privatize so they can sell the privatized apartments for “big bucks” — assuming anyone would want to buy these apartments in over-aged, affordable, middle-income buildings that continue to need major repairs.

Ms. Cooney and her fellow privatizers have made their windfalls already. Let the rest of us try to stay in a Mitchell-Lama affordable place and let Ms. Cooney and others deny themselves the chance to make extra cash on the backs of those who need to live in lower cost middle-income apartment homes.

Geraldine Lipschutz and Barry L. Cohen


Letters policy
Downtown Express welcomes letters to The Editor. They must include the writer’s first and last name, a phone number for confirmation purposes only, and any affiliation that relates directly to the letter’s subject matter. Letters should be less than 300 words. Downtown Express reserves the right to edit letters for space, clarity, civility or libel reasons. Letters should be e-mailed to news@DowntownExpress.com or can be mailed to 145 Sixth Ave., N.Y., N.Y. 10013.

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