Volume 20, Number 31 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | December 14 - 20, 2007

"Support businesses and organizations that support Downtown Express"

Letters to the Editor

Placard parking

To The Editor:
Three times in one week!  Short-term re-education of government sector commuters gets extended. This morning, Fri., Dec. 7, I saw it again in Chinatown — at least three N.Y.P.D. tow trucks towing cars with N.Y.P.D. placards on the southernmost blocks of Mott St. and on the Bowery. 

Local Community Boards 2 and 3 in Downtown Manhattan have both unanimously passed resolutions requesting permanent “No Permit Parking” signs from the Dept. of Transportation. Last spring the Fifth Precinct had also requested permanent No Permit Parking signs for Chinatown.  This request has not yet been honored by the D.O.T., and the precinct continues to tow N.Y.P.D. placarded cars.  The posting of permanent No Permit Parking signs by the D.O.T. would give these N.Y.P.D. tow trucks and Chinatown some needed relief. 

Chinatown and much of Lower Manhattan below Canal St. is located in a D.O.T. No Permit Area.  Longtime small businesses have closed down in Chinatown because of countless parking violations committed by government sector commuters parking anywhere they please — in violation of parking permit regulations.  The Fifth Precinct is to be commended again, they have been doing this for two years — ticketing, towing, booting and confiscating the placards of permit abusers. The rest of the city’s local precincts should follow this fine example of law enforcement.

More importantly: The City, Bloomberg, the N.Y.P.D. and the D.O.T., needs to give Chinatown permanent NO PERMIT PARKING signs, just like the Fifth Precinct and Community Boards 2 and 3 have requested of the D.O.T.

Three cheers to the Fifth Precinct for three days of towing in one week.
 Geoff Lee

Editor’s Note: Geoff Lee took the photograph of a car being towed on Mott St. in last week’s Downtown Express (Photo caption, Dec. 7 – 13, “Chinatown problem continues”).

To The Editor:
Last week’s article, “It’s not just Chinatown – parking abuse in B.P.C. too” (news article, Dec. 7 – 13) captures the frustration and anger of those in Battery Park City recently besieged by government permit parking abusers. Residents and businesses in Chinatown and the streets surrounding the Civic Center have endured this daily abuse since 9/11. Occasionally a deluge of 311 phone calls or new media story or an upcoming transportation meeting in our neighborhood may clear streets for a few weeks — but once the spotlight dims, the vehicles return.  

In light of ongoing, uphill battles to reclaim our streets from permit placard abusers, we find the mayor’s barrage of PlaNYC 2030 presentations in Chinatown, an affront to our intelligence.  

The latest one on Tues., Dec. 4, at the C.C.B.A. Chinese Community Center, again failed to address the same question we ask at every D.O.T./PlaNYC and congestion pricing meeting: Will congestion pricing exempt government permit holders whose vehicles are flooding Lower Manhattan streets with vehicles parked on top of our sidewalks, inside closed roadways and flattening bushes?

Whenever we ask about the status of the $400,000 Dept. of Transportation study that was initiated in the spring of 2006 to determine the number of free government parking permits issued and to address the embarrassing barrage of media coverage on this scandal, we are told they’re still counting.  A year and a half later, city officials now smile sympathetically and say, “We understand your problem, but we can’t produce the results of the study, until we can come up with recommendations.”   

Last fall the city’s own One Police Plaza-Environmental Impact Statement, completed as the result of hard won lawsuits by our pro bono attorneys at Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund and Dewey Ballantine LLP, found over 1,000 illegal government sector commuters in the streets surrounding police headquarters.  Despite police headquarters being in a designated “Blue Zone” whereby no permit parking is allowed, the volume of abuse overwhelms the valiant enforcement efforts of our local Fifth Precinct, which has the unenviable task of enforcing the law against their own.  

In a report prepared by Schaller Consulting in the spring of 2006 for Transportation Alternatives, one of the key reasons given for why people drive into Manhattan is the availability of free parking. 

Until Mayor Bloomberg addresses one of the greatest sources of traffic congestion on Lower Manhattan’s streets — free parking for government workers — we ask that Chinatown and Lower Manhattan advocates not leap onto the congestion pricing bandwagon.

It is pure hypocrisy and a double standard for Mayor Bloomberg to talk about reducing traffic in Manhattan but not outside City Hall’s own front and backyards.  
Jeanie Chin
Civic Center Residents Coalition

The art at Pearl

To The Editor:
I wished I had been informed about the article: “Pearl St. preservation ends with a demolition bang” (news article, Nov. 16 – 22). I well sympathize with Alan Solomon’s efforts to preserve the building, and I myself attempted to have the fourth floor — my atelier since the ’70s — ­landmarked, with the suggestion and support of the late Brendon Gill.

My space was recognized as a work of art. It was published in endless number of books and magazines. Fragments of it were exhibited over the years in museums, galleries and alternative spaces worldwide.

My neighbor managed to get most of his works and valuables out, while most of my belongings remained, which were not only of a personal nature but valuable artworks e.g. a large vitrine, whose twin is now in the collection of the Guggenheim, and other valuable art works; as well as a good part of my archive which is to be donated to New York University.    

Being that I had occupied the space much longer, had twice the space and was a collector of all things: clothes, statues, catalogue, special objects, and of course my art! Most of my things remained there when the demolition took place, since I was allotted the same amount of time for quick entry and even though I had managed to provide entry for both of us.

Many friends called after seeing the article to inform me in disbelief, not only of the sad news but that there was no mention of my atelier. I was equally shocked that I knew nothing of this article or about the photo shoot, especially since I was in the neighborhood every day during the demolition, paying homage to it with a tableau performance in front of the building. Naturally, I wish for my special space to be remembered.
 Colette a k a  Maiosn Lumiere (name of 213 Pearl St. studio)

To The Editor:
Belatedly I read online “Pearl St. preservation effort ends with a demolition bang.” In it Julie Shapiro focused on an artist, Jim Teschner, who had lived at 213 Pearl St. for 23 years, and only mentioned in passing, another tenant, the artist, Colette.

I found this to be puzzling and a strange omission. Known for her performances and work in various media, Colette had maintained her studio at 213 for over 30 years. She is internationally recognized, with a long list of solo exhibits in the U.S. and Europe, including two in New York this year, works in private collections and museums, and awards to her credit. It is odd that the writer didn’t talk with Colette about her Pearl St. history and her losses.

The 1832 warehouse building was a piece of the history of business in early Downtown New York. Like too many other buildings in our city, it aged rather ungracefully. But like so many such buildings, it provided spaces for small businesses, writers, musicians and artists, like Colette, to grow and flourish. And, it was more than that; what most people don’t realize is that Colette’s environment was one of her works of art. There she held her salons for the well known, the up and coming, and old friends. 213 Pearl had that history, Colette’s history, destroyed by a wrecking ball, without providing her adequate time to recuperate what she could of her environment and other treasures unmistakably marked with her touch.

It is unfortunate that none of the preservation and conservation committees, who had fought so hard to save 213, had attempted to rescue Colette’s environment. I’ll miss meeting with Colette and friends and the magical world she created at 213 Pearl.
Regina Cornwell

To The Editor:
I recently read Julie Shapiro’s article “Pearl St. preservation effort ends with a demolition bang.” It caught my eye because I have been very interested in this event, which is not only sad, but one more loss for our city. It’s a pity that the author missed an important opportunity. While it is true that the building should have been preserved and given landmark status, the same could be said for one of the spaces within. I am referring to the atelier of the artist Colette, who is referred to in passing as Colette Justine in the above mentioned article.

I have been following the career of this great artist for many years and it is clearly evident that not only has she left an indelible mark on American art, but also on international art as well. All of this can be attested by her well-documented, important contributions — installations, performance venues, and artwork in major museums and galleries throughout the world. Her atelier in the demolished Pearl Street building was in reality one of her most important works; it clearly manifested her complex vision and the constant transformation of her art during a substantial span of time.

Having visited this magic and unique space on many occasions throughout the years, I feel like I am a true witness. It is, indeed, unfortunate that an interior space that begged to be landmarked (conserved in a museum setting perhaps) is no longer with us. Ms. Shapiro could have focused her attention on an extraordinary artist and the creation of an unprecedented “space as art” interior infinitely more interesting than a tenant who moved into this demolished building more recently than Colette.
Federico Suro

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