Volume 19 Issue 47 | April 6 - 12, 2007

Letters to the editor

Steps in the wrong direction

To The Editor:
Re “No stairway to heaven” (Letter, March 30 – April 5):

I find the vehemence on both sides of the debate over the “Survivors’ Stairway” to be a bit baffling. While I sympathize with both points of view, I find it frustrating that, once again, the 9/11 community is allowing itself to be divided by a singular issue rather than dealing with the larger problems that continue to surround the World Trade Center site. Those opposed to saving the staircase claim it’s an eyesore. That may be, but what about the 200-foot bunker planned for the base of the Freedom Tower? Isn’t that more of an eyesore? What about the two giant waterfalls planned for the memorial? We all know they’ll end up being empty for much of the time, just like the much smaller fountain in front of the World Financial Center.

It’ll be two smaller holes in the ground to reflect the giant hole we’ve been living with for five and a half years. On the other hand, while the staircase has genuine historical significance, what good is it by itself? When people visit the site, they won’t see anything that looks remotely like what was there on 9/11.

Instead, they’ll see two pits, a random jumbling of names and an office complex that looks nothing like the W.T.C. What would preserving the staircase accomplish in this vacuum?

Regardless of how one feels about the plans for the site, there remain a number of problems concerning public health and safety, as well as the historic significance of the site. If we were smart, the 9/11 community would be trying to work together to find solutions to these problems. Instead, we’re bickering over a staircase stump.

Rachel Snyder

Y you’re an old friend

To The Editor:
As a resident of Southbridge Towers I want to welcome the 92nd Street Y to Lower Manhattan (news article, March 9 – 15, “92nd St.-Trinity ‘summit’ talks end with Downtown deal”). I worked at the Y in the education office for eight years in the 1940s, doing my bit for the cultural life of the City of New York. We were located on the third floor. The staff was small, made up of just three – the director, myself and a seller of tickets to the events. It may have been small, but it was overpowering in its reach in this city. At the time there was Carnegie Hall, Town Hall and the 92nd Street Y.

Along with the musical greats who performed — Jascha Heifetz, Wanda Landowska, Rudolph Serkin, the Budapest String Quartet, to name just a few — the Y also attracted an illustrious audience, luminaries who came to hear their contemporaries. Attending an event at the Y was to be in the midst of greatness. And more: Thanks to the Y, the Dance Center, which held a special place for the modern dance movement, added to our cultural vocabulary along with the names of great modern dancers Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, Jose Limon.

It was in those years — the forties — that the audience also saw many refugees of Hitler’s devastation, and the U.S. became important and recognized for its cultural rebirth. It is unfortunate now that this cultural vitality is slipping away. The Y with its historical background can help to bring all this back and serve as a leader in a neighborhood whose cultural well-being will be greatly enriched.

Geraldine Lipschutz

Cops before Council

To The Editor:
I agree with your editorial “Our auxiliary officers need more protection,” (March 23 – 29) but would go even further.  Both regular and auxiliary police officers need our support.  Consider that the recent salary increase passed by New York City Council Speaker Quinn and her colleagues of $22,000 per year is almost equal to the $25,000 starting salary of a new police officer or the cost of several bulletproof vests.   

Salary increases for civil servants and private sector employees are based on the principles of merit, performance, quality of service along with an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.  Most New Yorkers would agree that any police officer is worth more than any or all 51 N.Y.C. Councilmembers combined.  The same is true for citizens who volunteer to serve as auxiliary police officers.

Between the new Councilmember base salary of $112,500 supplemented by lulus ranging from $4,000 to $28,000 — their average salary for a part time job is now $125,000 or five times that of a rookie police officer.

Why not use some of the several hundred million dollars worth of yearly member item pork barrel projects or the paper billion dollar budget surplus to pay police officers what they really deserve? These same funds could support bulletproof vests for all auxiliary police officers as well.
Larry Penner
Great Neck, N.Y. 
Parks, cops and parking
To The Editor:
As one who has fought for over five years to re-open Park Row and reclaim our streets from Police headquarters, I am heartened by Skip Blumberg’s group’s success in re-opening City Hall Park (Letters, March 23 – 29, “From park to Park Row”).  I would also like to add to Shelly Estrin’s observation that the S-word (security) has become a euphemism for the P-word (parking) and point out that the S-word is also being used as a mask for the R-word (racism) (Letters, March 16 – 22, “Confucius was a goo-goo”).

How can it be, as pointed out in Geoff Lee’s letter on illegal placard parking, that Chinatown must rely on Chinese-American precinct commanders to properly respond to One Police Plaza scofflaws who illegally use parking placards at our fire hydrants, bus stops, curb cuts, crosswalks, and sidewalks (Letters, March 23 – 29, “Cop makes 311 work”)?

What does this say about the prior commanders at the Fifth Precinct who did not tow away these illegal placard parkers?  And do the high level officials at One Police Plaza, who must be setting policy for the entire police force, not believe that the residents of Chinatown have a right to fire hydrants, bus stops, curb cuts, sidewalks, crosswalks, and major thoroughfares?
Danny Chen

Trust my records

To The Editor:
Re “Larger restaurant would push some kayaks out of Tribeca boathouse” (news article, March 16 – 22):

I am writing to correct some statements made in the article regarding “the [Hudson River Park] Trust’s lack of collaboration with [Community Board 1];” and “according to C.B. 1 records, the Trust never brought any additional plans [after June 2002] before the board until the Task Force demanded them in early 2007.”

From 1992 until 2004 when I retired, I ran the district office for Assemblyman Sheldon Silver and represented him on the Hudson River Park Trust Advisory Council. I spent thousands of hours participating in meetings about this 5-mile park, working with C.B. 1 members and others to ensure that the design concepts for the park met the community’s needs and desires. I literally participated in more than 100 public meetings regarding Segment 3 in Tribeca and they were sponsored by the Trust, Advisory Council and C.B.1.

In early 2003, the schematic design for Segment 3 was completed. Since I am a “pack rat” and save things I believe important, I found the resolution passed by C.B. 1 on Feb. 25, 2003. It stated that “C.B. 1 has had a long history (over 10 years) of reviewing …design concepts for the proposed park” and also said C.B. 1 “is pleased that H.R.P.T. has … accommodated many of the program uses desired by the community.” Finally, the resolution stated that the board “fully supports the schematic design for Segment 3 of the Hudson River Park.” I am surprised that C.B. 1 does not have this resolution in its files.

Even though I am retired, I continue to attend meetings about Hudson River Park. It is my recollection that Trust staff attended two meetings of the C.B.1 Waterfront Committee as recently as the summer and fall of 2006 to provide an update on the design and on some funding issues with respect to Segment 3.

In the end, the results of the negotiations were very favorable for the community. Neither the Trust nor the community got everything they wanted. I, for one, want many more shade structures – and I will continue to advocate for them.

Yvonne Morrow

Make art, not war

To The Editor:
Re “Art vendors say police get picture wrong” (news article, March 30 – April 6):

I’ve personally been a target of N.Y.P.D. vendor enforcement for 42 years. The one constant I’ve observed is that enforcement is always motivated by politics and money. The N.Y.P.D. does not write a parking ticket, let alone harass street artists, without someone with political influence or a great deal of money putting them up to it.

The Soho Alliance, Community Board 2, Councilmember Gerson, the wealthy landlords of Soho and the galleries all claimed in the article that they have no problem with street artists and just cannot imagine why the First Precinct keeps sending 10 officers at a time to W. Broadway with specific orders to harass artists selling their own original paintings, prints, photos and sculptures.

Yet when I talk to these officers, they all state that specific complaints about artists are what they are responding to.

Blaming these N.Y.P.D. officers for the harassment is like blaming the lowest ranking U.S. soldiers in Iraq for the Iraq invasion policy. Are we to believe that for two weekends uniformed police officers stood across from my art vending stand guarding an art gallery for seven hours straight on their own initiative?

Galleries, landlords, residents and storeowners who imagine they own all public property in Soho make hundreds of calls a month to the First Precinct and to the mayor’s office demanding action against street artists. Councilmember Gerson has spent six years “drafting” new regulations aimed at destroying street artists’ First Amendment rights.

It is their absolute right in a free society to make those calls and do these things, but they should at least be honest enough to admit what they are doing.

If the reasonable residents of Soho don’t want to see a return to the “art wars” that raged in Soho all through the 1990s, they should make their opinions known to those pulling the strings.

The police are not getting the picture wrong. It’s the string pullers who are.

Robert Lederman
President of ARTIST

Frank diplomacy

To The Editor:
Re “Anne Frank can’t be saved now” (The Penny Post, March 16 – 22):

How poignantly Andrei Codrescu makes the case about prioritizing national and human identity. For the greater part of our history, we Americans have been first human beings called by our Judeo-Christian ethics to be compassionate and then Americans. We thus demanded that our national power be used to serve the common good, “oppose evil and injustice in the world” and to show compassion to those abused by others or defeated by our own forces.

This confuses most other people, as they do not identify themselves nationally by a culture of laws and ethics, but rather by race, color, religion or national origin. Nevertheless, there are those among us who do, and they constantly demand that the rest of us descend to the international community’s level of conduct.

That these people are concentrated in our own diplomatic corps is a deplorable happenstance of inherited wealth and academic hubris. They represent us poorly to the world and that is also unfortunate, for I believe that what makes America special is we Americans, and what makes Americans special is our belief that we are here to serve a higher purpose under God and within our laws.

Kenneth R. Bosley

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