Volume 20 Issue 4 | June 15 - 21, 2007

Letter to the Editor

Trustworthy hearing?

To The Editor:
I was shocked and surprised to read Hudson River Park Trust President Connie Fishman’s statement regarding the public response to proposals for development of Pier 40, “the only thing I think we’ve heard loud and clear from the community is ballfields, ballfields….” (news article, June 8 - 14, “Park prez: Tribeca ‘cool’ will return”).  While proponents of maintaining the pier’s ballfields did a phenomenal job of getting their message across at the May 3 public hearing and elsewhere, President Fishman was not listening very closely to the more than 1,500 people who turned out if that was the only message she heard.

Many also expressed concerns shared by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation that the scale, volume, and type of development proposed for Pier 40 could overwhelm the park and surrounding neighborhoods, especially the plan by Related Companies.  In fact, according to Related themselves, their current plan is still estimated to draw 2.7 million visitors annually to the pier, and their current program would tend to indicate that many of those visitors would be tourists or traveling from other parts of the Tri-State area, and thus will likely arrive by car.  Traffic is one of the biggest concerns about the Related plan, which makes Related advisor Jay Kriegel’s comments that “this area is not really one of the hot spots for traffic” particularly confounding (news article, June 8 – 14, “Pier 40 fields would stay open under Cirque plan”).  In fact, nearby Houston, Canal, and Varick Sts., and the Holland Tunnel entrances, are in a near-constant and unsafe snarl of traffic.  Surely developers proposing projects of this scale and impact should have a better sense of the landscape of the communities they are seeking to locate in.

If Trust President Connie Fishman hasn’t heard these concerns, we should make sure she does.  The comment period for the Pier 40 proposals ends June 19, after which the Trust may make a decision about the developer.  Comments should be emailed to
 Andrew Berman
Executive director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation    

To The Editor:
If all Connie Fishman of the Hudson River Park Trust hears from the community about Pier 40 is “Save our ball fields,” she is hearing only what she wants to hear. What people are saying is “Save our park and save our neighborhoods.” As a public servant and park leader, it is her job to listen and to care. If she would like to do so, there are thousands of engaged and enraged neighbors who are vociferously opposed to Related’s proposal for Pier 40 and ready to speak out again as they did at the May 3 hearing.

Most of the people who reside in the neighborhoods within the boundaries of Community Board 2 live here because we love it here. We love the heritage and the electric mix of residential and commercial life. Because we love what makes our neighborhood special, we also understand why we are high on every tourist’s list of places not to miss.

But, here comes the point that Ms. Fishman seems to be missing: Pier 40 is a park. It is a place of respite for thousands of families. It is a community place we go to play. If Ms. Fishman really believes we will be just as happy playing at an entertainment complex that is attractive mostly to tourists, she has duly attended dozens of community meetings but missed the boat.

We are surrounded by tourists everywhere we go. When we go to the park to play, we want to get away. We want a park experience where we share our joys in the public sphere of our community. We don’t need more congestion, traffic, tourists, stores, shopping and development. What we need is a safe place we can go with our kids to get away from all of that. The future of Pier 40 offers an opportunity to improve the quality of life for all the affected neighborhoods; please save our park and our neighborhoods.
Jill Hanekamp

Congestion pricing

To The Editor:
I recently wrote to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver asking him to intercede to fight Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ill-conceived congestion pricing plan.

This is just another tax, which the mayor’s rich friends can easily afford. Others who struggle to meet everyday expenses will find it a real hardship. Before turning to such a drastic solution, the mayor might try one or all of the following suggestions:

• Eliminate all parking by private vehicles that have special placards permitting them to park — e.g. city workers.

• Eliminate special parking for police and firefighters.

• Eliminate free parking for physicians. Doctors no longer make house calls. The practice is an anachronism. Other such special parking should be re-evaluated.

• Restrict private vehicles until after 10 a.m. in the business district of Manhattan.

• Provide free or low-cost parking areas in the boroughs to encourage use of subways and buses by out-of-city commuters.

• Mayor Bloomberg is trying to use a fast track to bulldoze a policy that punishes those who cannot afford this extra tax.
Joseph Lerner

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