Volume 19 Issue 54 | May 25 -31, 2007

Letters to the editor

Stairway is a treasure

To The Editor:
Re “Steps to folly” (editorial, May 18 – 24):

Had the “Survivors’ Staircase” been buried and then discovered by future archaeologists, it would be declared an extraordinary “find.” Although the Staircase now ascends to nowhere, it is unique as the only surviving architectural feature of the original World Trade Center site. On Sept. 11, 2001, for many survivors it was the last available exit from the collapsing buildings.

It demands protection and appreciation and begs for recognition as a remnant of a colossal urban feature that speaks with the eloquence of the world’s great archaeological treasures. Like those treasures, it marks a place and — in this case — a cataclysmic event and a heroic recovery effort. Because this stairway is an actual survivor of that event and became a craggy ruin when it was deconstructed during the clean up of the entire site, it has the power to speak to us now and to generations to come, without excavation and without the rediscovery of an archaeological find.

To dismantle this unique piece of history and incorporate a few elements into or near the new office tower planned on the site, or to display some of its treads in the memorial museum, would be mistake. It can be likened to taking a stone or two from the Coliseum in Rome, or from the fortress of Massada in Israel, and expect them to resonate as they do in situ or in their entirety.

Gov. Spitzer is to be commended for stepping in to allow for a thoughtful resolution to the issue. The “Survivors’ Staircase” is a unique witness to history that must be allowed to speak to future generations, as do the world’s other great archaeological treasures.

Joan H. Geismar
Joan H. Geismar is a founding member and past president of the Professional Archaeologists of New York City.

Priced out of I.P.N.

To The Editor:
Re “City’s red tape leads to evictions, tenants say” (news article, April 20 – 26):

Last year I lost my rent subsidy at Independence Plaza. My rent had been $500 a month. When I approached the management office they told me that they would not honor the stated price on my lease, which was $1,800 for a studio apartment. They wanted $2,800 a month. I had to move.

The problem with I.P.N. is as much about the tenants association, which wanted the buildings to become co-ops, as it is about the greedy landlord.

The tenants association sold out the tenants and they are still awaiting their goal of co-op ownership.

Dennis Rocchio

The South rises

To The Editor:
Re “Stop in the name of traffic safety, B.P.C. says” (news article, May 18 – 24):

 Add wild West St. at Albany St. to your list. I was pleased to see the attention being paid to the difficulties of negotiating West St., and hope that the attention extends to the south neighborhood and the Albany St. intersection.

On any early weekday morning, there are more red lights run, illegal left turns and illegal u-turns made then there are gallons in an SUV gas tank.

Frequently in crossing West St. at Albany, one may feel like a video game character trying to bound across some abyss as gremlins with grill faces try and knock you down before you get to the safety of the other side and score a point. One day, it will be game over. 

Before that day happens, I am hopeful that a red-light camera goes up that is conspicuous (yes, conspicuous, as in preventative), or there is some police coverage with the local precinct just two blocks away on Washington St., or at least better signage. 

Perhaps your article and the actions of the students and neighbors noted therein were just enough of a spark for me, others in Battery Park City, and our local representatives to be more vocal in trying to come up with a solution. That is a far better catalyst then waiting for a serious injury or death to be the tipping point.  Let’s not all wait for “game over.”

Thanks for the coverage.
Ernie Markezin

From Jerusalem to Cairo

To The Editor:
Jerry Tallmer’s review of “Six Days” got it a bit wrong (arts article, May 18 – 24, “‘Six Days’ – or why Nasser missed lunch in Tel Aviv”). I was there in Jerusalem at the time of the war as managing editor of Jordan’s English language daily published in then Jordanian Arab Jerusalem but I have been away for a long time, like 39 years. I flew back in for the day to do my turn in this documentary. Since June 5, 1967, I have worked for The New York Times and Jeune Afrique, served as NBC news producer-reporter for 13 years, nine of which as Cairo bureau chief. I’m now professor emeritus at the American University in Cairo where I founded and ran the Adham Center for Electronic Journalism for 20 years. My last journalistic foray was as Washington D.C. bureau chief for Al Arabiya News Channel (al Jazeera’s competition) from Feb. 2006 to Feb. 2007. A lot of my views since I wrote the book “The Fall of Jerusalem” have mellowed with time. I sort of get the feeling Jerry’s views haven’t.

Abdallah Schleifer

Rich man, poor man?

To The Editor:
Re “A Downtown parent in charge of W.T.C. development” (news article, May 18 – 24):

My heart goes out to Mr. Shorris who is apparently unable to move Downtown because of his miserly salary of $277,000 a year. I and many others seem to be able to manage it on substantially less (although I would gladly exchange his income for mine).

Marilyn R. Masaryk

Southbridge Towers

To The Editor:
I am writing in response to all the residents of Southbridge Towers who are against privatization. I am a resident of S.B.T. for over 36 years.  Those of us who have lived here that long have watched our neighborhood grow and prosper.  We are watching luxury buildings go up and high-end stores come in.  There are a lot of us here who are for privatization because of all of this growth.  We are not looking to cash in and run but rather hope to have equity in our homes not just for our future but the future of our children and grandchildren.  I have lived in the city all of my life and will continue to do so.   We are getting increases anyway and are not seeing our buildings being upgraded the way they should be.  If going private will accomplish keeping the buildings from becoming rundown I say go for it.  We have not seen new flooring since we moved in, the windows were just changed after 36 years, paint jobs are few.  If privatization is the answer and will not hurt those of us who live here I feel that it will be the best thing for us.  We are all middle-income families who want what is best for all.  A new board was voted in and although they were not everyone’s choice they are who they are and hopefully will do the right thing for all the resident’s at S.B.T.  Instead of always knocking everyone who has served on the board we should try to work together and come together to make the right decision for all.

Lorraine Fittipaldi

To The Editor:
As one of the residents to gain a seat on Southbridge Towers’ board of directors (news article, May 18 – 24, “Southbridge privatizers win control of the board”), I found your piece very helpful.  It clearly outlined the issues facing those of us who favor leaving state control (some say privatizing or reconstituting).

It appears from some of the quotes in the article that many residents still do not realize that in a private cooperative like Southbridge no one will have to move.  They can simply remain in their apartments, knowing that they can use the value they built up in the apartment by having paid a part of Southbridge’s mortgage each month during their residency.

I honestly believe that, with the exception of the few who oppose reconstitution on philosophical grounds, most residents would support going private, if they fully understood the advantages. My own awakening came about slowly, through research and talking to people, especially board members of Chatham Green and Chatham Towers.  Of course, two recent 15 percent hikes in monthly maintenance charges along with Stuart Saft’s feasibility study certainly helped.

So, even holding a majority of our board, our work is cut out for us — of running Southbridge as efficiently as possible to ensure low monthly maintenance charges and, of presenting information on reconstitution as accurately and fairly as possible so that all our residents understand its benefits as we do.

John Ost

Bet on mom

To The Editor:
Your readers might be interested and amused by this story.

At the Caring Community’s Senior Center, which is located at Independence Plaza in Tribeca, we had a special lunch last Friday, which was dedicated to Mother’s Day. Before lunch, Carolyn Grable, the director, asked if anyone wished to say anything concerning Mother’s Day. A Chinese lady stood up and told us the following story:

We asked my 97-year-old mother what she wanted for Mother’s Day because we all wanted to know what a 97-year-old woman would want. She immediately said that she want to go to Las Vegas. So we promised to have her son take her. He agreed. Well, Mother’s Day came and no one took her to Las Vegas. She was so angry she stayed in her room and refused to come to the Mother’s Day family dinner. We pleaded with her but she refused. It was only when her son promised again that he would indeed take her to Las Vegas that she finally came out of her room and joined the family for dinner.

Her son told everyone that that was the last time he would promise anyone anything.

Ed Cochanski

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