Volume 20 Issue 13 | August 10 - 16, 2007

Letters to the Editor

Tribeca rats

To The Editor:
The letter writer who took a heavy swat at Community Board 1 member Pat Moore and C.B. 1 District Manager Noah Pfefferblit (Letters, Aug. 3 – 9, “Stop and smell the rats”), for seemingly being unaware of our huge rat problem Downtown needs to take a breath and understand her outrage is based on a single sentence in an article that gave a terribly wrong impression.

Pat Moore and her Quality of Life Committee (of which I am a public member) have been dealing with the rat issue for well over a year.  More to the point, they got results. I know, because my block was one of their success stories.  When Pat brought in members from the Sanitation Dept. and Dept. of Health to address our committee specifically about the rat problem, she also asked the community to come to her with “rat hot spots.” Our block on Duane St. between Church and Broadway had rats dancing in the streets.  I gave the information to Pat Moore and she passed it on to the Sanitation and Health people.  Within a week, huge signs were on poles on the block announcing that the city had put rat poison on the block.  I also worked with several building owners on the block to plug up holes on ground level in their building foundations that the rats were using to hide.  I worked with the Fire Dept. to get a leaking fire hydrant removed.

Together, we got the rat problem solved.  But the solution began with Pat Moore and her Community Board 1 Quality of Life committee.  Believe me, poor Pat has been living and breathing the rat problem Downtown for a long, long time, as has Noah as district manager.

Jean B. Grillo

To The Editor:
Regarding your article on rats in the Seaport, come on over to Tribeca — ours are defiantly bigger and faster and richer (news article, July 27 – Aug. 3, “Rats flood the Seaport due to water-main work”). Washington Market Park is infested, Independence Plaza North is infested, Citigroup park is infested, the Greening of Greenwich St. planters are infested — but they are the only ones who exterminate!

Come around after dark, sit by the park and watch the rodents go from the sewers by Duane and Greenwich and watch them run into the park. Then you can watch them run back and forth near N. Moore St. — maybe the new hotel will ban 4-legged rats and that will solve that problem. There are nests in the park that can be seen from above.

There is also a dead tree on Greenwich off the corner of Harrison St. in front of I.P.N. The Parks Dept. and 311 have been called, but no one comes to fix or remove it. The tree has sunk and it now has holes in its base. Guess who is coming in and out? Yes the rodents and this is a location where the seniors sit and people come out of the deli with food. It’s a mess.

Restaurants and stores leave their garbage out all night not in metal bins, but in plastic garbage bags. It becomes a rodent feast.

The solution is for everyone to exterminate every six months: Parks, I.P.N., Citigroup, and the Greening of Greenwich St. The restaurants should get bins, and the city should come and flush out the sewers and exterminate. Once in a while is not enough. This is what the Quality of Life Committee of Community Board 1 should be dealing with.  I communicate with Noah, the district manager. Everyone should let the board know when there is a problem in the area.
Anne Compoccia

Plan for C.B. 1 land

To The Editor:
Re “Wise move at 50 West” and “Beep says stop on West St.” (editorial and news article, Aug. 3 - 9):

As one of eight out of 43 community board members who did not vote to recommend the sale of the 183,000 square feet of city-owned development rights at 50 West St., I applaud the borough president’s negative vote and the Downtown Express’s editorial questioning the wisdom of the transaction.

All other community boards have board-wide Land-Use or Zoning Committees, where members with expertise and strong interests in comprehensive planning review Uniform Land Use Review Procedure items for the entire board area. Only C.B. 1 sends ULURP issues to geographical committees (with no specific zoning skills). In the case of 50 West in Greenwich South, the two geographical committees gave short shrift to the technicalities of raising the basic Floor to Area Ratio of 15 to a total equivalent F.A.R. of 27 (bulk on footprint of developer’s lot) by adding the extra square footage from the zoning lot merger with the Battery Tunnel approach. (Granted, the additional F.A.R. of 3 for the urban plaza was not controversial and would benefit both the community and developer.) Ironically, this is after the Tribeca Committee fought for years over increasing their F.A.R. from 5 to 6.

I am grateful that our board chair has created a new Planning and Community Infrastructure Committee, but as with 50 West, she doesn’t intend on sending ULURP changes to this committee for input when creating future resolutions. I hope she will reconsider this practice and immediately include the Planning Committee along with the affected geographical committees. Eventually, I hope that C.B. 1 will learn from the practices of the other 58 community boards and eliminate geographical committees in favor of board-wide committees such as Land-Use, Parks or Transportation. We already do this for Landmarks, Waterfront, Youth and Education.

The members of the new Planning Committee are presently analyzing current zoning regulations and may come up with modifications for “Greenwich South,” even looking at incentives for “affordable housing.” In an area of narrow and overcrowded streets, and overused subways and schools, and few parks, the suggested modifications for the future of this district may be at odds with the decision to permit adding an additional 183,000 square feet to construct a 520,000-square-foot hotel/residential 63-story building, (regardless of the mitigation of laptop computers, etc.).

So while the courts have ruled that any proceeds from such a sale must have a strong nexus to the impacted area to mitigate its harm, our community boards need more clarification as to how they should be voting on ULURP land use decisions, while also negotiating mitigation promises from the developers.

Rick Landman
Rick Landman is an adjunct land-use professor

Obama’s right on terror

To The Editor:
 As another 9/11 anniversary approaches, the politics of terrorism have, for whatever reason, stepped away from the issues that pertain to 9/11. But for the families of Sept. 11th, it always comes back to the unresolved issues about 9/11. I am sure it will be one of the main subjects of political debate for the 2008 presidential election. Throughout the years there has been an overall reluctance for anyone to take any responsibility for the failures that may have prevented the events of  9/11. The one pivotal moment for me was when security czar Richard Clark announced at the 9/11 Commission hearings “I failed you and your government failed you.”  But today there was what I would call another pivotal moment. It comes from Barack Obama, at a speech given at the Woodrow Wilson Center. He said he would be willing to invade Pakistan in an Al-Qaeda hunt.  

“There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans,” Obama said. “They are plotting to strike again.... If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will…. It is time to turn the page. It is time to write a new chapter in our response to 9/11.”  

For me, six years is a long time to bring us some sense of justice, but Obama is at least on the right track.
Barry Zelman 
Brother of Kenneth Zelman, killed in the North Tower on Sept. 11, 2001.
Landing, N.J.

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 or can be mailed to 145 Sixth Ave., N.Y., N.Y. 10013.

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