Volume 20 Issue 7 | June 29 - July 5, 2007

Letter to the Editor

Accident waiting to happen

To The Editor:
I am writing to register a complaint about the removal of stop signs at the corner of Murray St. and North End Ave. (news article, May 18 – 24, “Stop in the name of traffic safety, B.P.C. says”).

This morning at approximately 8:45 a.m., I was nearly struck by an M.T.A. bus while walking my child in a stroller from west to east along the northern edge of this intersection. I had to walk around two double-parked Parks trucks to get into the intersection, and then found myself face to face with the bus coming north on North End Ave. The bus was moving slowly, and I clearly made eye contact with the driver, but he did not stop moving. Finally, I stopped and said to him, “Are you going to just run me over?” Since he still did not stop moving forward, I literally had to run out of his way, pushing my stroller and dragging my dog. The front right edge of the bus missed my dog by about one foot.

I believe that this driver did not stop because of the recent removal of the stop signs in this intersection; this is only the most extreme of the experiences I have had in recent weeks of buses, taxis and other vehicles driving through this busy pedestrian throughway at high speed and with rampant disregard for people who are dozens of feet from either curb by the time they drive by. It is ridiculous in my view that the city has taken a modestly safe crossing and made it a crap shoot for pedestrians. This current incident, most notably in the attitude of the driver, makes me fearful for the safety of those less able to move swiftly out of the way. How long before a group of children on their way to the ballfields adjoining this corner or senior citizens from the retirement home up the block become casualties of the city’s lack of common sense?

The removal of these stop signs and those at the end of Murray and Warren Sts. by the river park is even less understandable given the fact that new stop signs have been placed at both sides of Teardrop Park, which is fine for those who enter and leave the park, but does not address the walking patterns of people who actually live and work in the neighborhood and don’t take the scenic route every time they go across West St. The simple fact is that the neighborhood is much less safe now for pedestrians than it had been in the past — I have lived here since the late 1970s.

Nathaniel Hupert

Compoccia on Downtown

To The Editor:
While reading your paper (June 22 – 28) I came across three items that disturbed me enough that I felt it necessary to write to you.

Re Traffic and the Holland Tunnel (news article, “Traffic relief now, not next year, Soho says”):

It’s not just Broome St. This horror show goes up and down Canal St., right into the Manhattan Bridge, causing problems for Little Italy and Chinatown. Needless to say, it literally destroys Hudson St. from Canal to Chambers. I still can’t believe the traffic cop had no idea… he must use a helicopter. This has been going on since 1982, and the saddest part is that the Port Authority has cameras stationed all over these areas. And they do nothing about it.

Mr. Gerson asks eighth graders about street names (Youth essays, “Students research Downtown, where the streets have names”). First, he should send the “Encyclopedia of New York City” to all the schools in his district, so they can learn the history of Lower Manhattan and why the streets are named as they are.

Regarding the Mosco St. mystery, it was formerly called Park St. The name was changed quite a number of years ago to Mosco St. because Frank Mosco was born here. Mosco was an Italian-American who spent his years working with Asian- and Italian-American youth who lived in Little Italy and Chinatown. He started the idea of ball leagues long before it became popular in other neighborhoods. He worked hard for the community and didn’t think of running for office. He married and raised a family in the same area where he was born and raised.

Mosco, like others who gave to their communities, should not have this honor stripped from him because the next generation either doesn’t want to learn or they aren’t given the tools to learn about the history of Lower Manhattan.

Last but not least, regarding the West St. building: I applaud your reader who commented on Mr. Gesue’s remark to go live in Brooklyn (Letters, “A Downtown shame”). I also applaud the few board members who wanted to reject his project outright (news article, “C.B. 1 OKs tower on West with conditions”). Too bad they didn’t have enough votes to pull it off. There was another time and place, where a former chair of C.B. 1 would have kicked Mr. Gesue and his employers out on their backsides for the insult to a community that made it possible for the likes of Mr. Gesue to want to build here. And am I the only person who thinks that a handful of computers is the cheapest sellout we have ever seen? They should be building another school, not donating computers. If only the board realized the power it can have with these monster terrorist developers.
Anne Compoccia
Former chairperson of Community Board 1

Math quiz

To The Editor:
The news in the Downtown Express in recent weeks really has me puzzling over the numbers. Does Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center chief Charles Maikish really believe that contractors facing a $29 million loss if Deutsche Bank isn’t demolished by the end of the year will slow down their work to avoid the occasional$5,000 fine associated with safety violations (news article, June 15 – 20, “Deutsche rush led to mishap, official admits”)? Does Governor Eliot Spitzer really believe that we need to spend tens of millions in incentives to fill the Deutsche Bank site back up with a major corporate tenant (UnderCover, June 15 – 21, “Chase Caught”)? If our best and brightest make their economic judgments this way, it’s hardly a surprise that New York is losing its position as the world’s financial center.

Mark Scherzer

Go for parking dough

To The Editor:
There is a related issue that is overlooked with regard to congestion pricing, and that is illegal parking placard abuse (Editorial, June 15 – 21, “Silver, don’t jam up mayor’s traffic plan”). “The city has got to clean up its act before it introduces congestion pricing,” Sam Schwartz, former city transportation commissioner, said on WCBS June 19. I concur. If placard abuse is eliminated, congestion pricing becomes a moot point.  

In the last five to six years, New York City has lost approximately $250 million in parking meter revenue alone. N.Y.C. loses $46 million a year due to illegal placard abuse according to a 2006 report by traffic analyst Bruce Schaller. 

According to Marcia Kramer’s recent report on WCBS, there are an estimated 150,000 placards out there.  If this number was reduced, even by half, through strict enforcement of already existing No Permit Zone laws and placard restrictions, traffic congestion and parking problems would be reduced as much as any congestion pricing scheme; not to mention better air pollution conditions, increased revenue from greater mass transit ridership, and of course up to $46 million a year in regained parking meter revenue.  All of this would be at minimal cost to the city, with no need for more big brother cameras and detectors.

 Of primary importance — the increased quality of life, with placard abuse eliminated, is obviously priceless.

With illegal placard abuse gone, the congestion pricing enticements — money, reduced traffic congestion and pollution, and quality of life — would all be addressed at practically no cost and much faster than implementing any 3-year congestion pricing trial.

Which comes first, nixing illegal placard abuse or congestion pricing? To me, it’s a no-brainer.

In his rush to push congestion pricing through at this time, the mayor has made no statement regarding exemptions for public sector vehicles with parking placards.  If placard users are exempted from congestion pricing, then N.Y.C. would indeed suffer a double loss —  another reason to abolish illegal placard abuse first. 

Geoff Lee

Cadavers & med students

To The Editor:
Re “Meeting the med students who dissected my husband” (Downtown Notebook, May 25 – 31):

I was mesmerized by Annie Shaver-Crandell’s column on the memorial service for her late husband at New York Medical College in Valhalla. My brother, Matthew, started the program a number of years ago. When he is not Dr. Pravetz at N.Y.M.C., he is Father Matthew, a Franciscan friar at Holy Cross Church (Iglesia de Santa Cruz) in the Bronx. 

Thirty years ago, I took anatomy as a new medical student, the only American, at the renowned University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. At my dissection table, there were three other medical students besides me, and the only data we had on our cadaver was written on a 3-x-5 index card: “26 y/o - ca lung.”

I had an incredible desire to know more about my first patient. That wish never came to fruition. However, in some twisted way, Shaver-Crandell’s writing helped to place closure on an issue that has always been in the back of my mind. Behind every cadaver is a human being, and a legacy — reading Shaver-Crandell’s article has brought that home to me for once and for all.

Michael Pravetz

L.M.D.C. should go

To The Editor: 
I thought that Eliot Spitzer was all about undoing the messes that ex-Governor George E. Pataki made (Editorial, June 1 – 7, “The L.M.D.C. under Spitzer”). He said that on day one everything changes. However, many of us have guessed wrong.  He should have removed the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation the day they were in his hands.  Even Spitzer didn’t agree with the L.M.D.C.  It is beyond just keeping the L.M.D.C. He even chose to stay with Pataki’s course on the World Trade Center site when he had a chance to finally put an end to that boondoggle, which he despised, and go with the people by having the Twin Towers rebuilt.  I thought that Spitzer was an anti-elitist when he was my state attorney general and the People’s Lawyer.  Is this the same person I voted for in November?  Maybe he just said these things to win votes, and then went against what he preached once he was sworn in.

Tal Barzilai

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