Volume 20, Number 32 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | December 21 - 27, 2007

"Support businesses and organizations that support Downtown Express"

Letters to the Editor

Pier 40 trucks

To The Editor:
In his recent article about the idea of using part of Pier 40 as a garage for sanitation trucks, Josh Rogers makes it sound like I’m trying to lead a movement (news article, Dec. 7 – 13, “Pier 40 garbage trucks smell sweet to some”). I’m not.

The Hudson River Park Act requires sanitation truck parking to be removed from Gansevoort Peninsula so the park can expand onto its 7 acres of land, and it identifies the 15-acre Pier 40 as a revenue opportunity for the Trust. There were two unintended consequences: The future of our neighborhood is now threatened by a mega-mall for large venue entertainment on Pier 40 and the future of the Hudson Square neighborhood between Canal and West Houston Sts. is now threatened by a 120-foot tall structure for three Department of Sanitation district garages to be sited next to residential buildings on Spring St.

Together, these projects are likely to push Hudson Square toward a neighborhood transforming intensive hotel and entertainment district. People who care about their neighbors should help them in their fight against the Spring St. garage, and people who care about the park should join the fight against Related companies takeover of the pier. But if the fight to save the pier succeeds and no alternative way to rebuild it is found, the next generation will not have it, and if the fight to save Hudson Square from the sanitation garage succeeds and no alternative location is found, the trucks will stay at Gansevoort and there will never be a park there.

If some trucks can be parked at Pier 40 in a low impact way and this can reduce the size of the Spring St. garage and be part of a way to save Pier 40 for public open space and recreation, it’s an idea that may have merit.
Tobi Bergman

Bathroom view

To The Editor:
Re “Gardeners oppose human fertilizer room (a k a bathroom)” (news article, Nov. 30 – Dec. 6):

One would think adults would have more interesting things to discuss than a new jakes in Washington Market Park. Not so, even at this festive time of year. The larger issue of who is served in the park is important, if obscured, in the trivia of the jakes design.

The new park jakes has impressive support from Julie Menin, head of the community board, and Nelle Fortenberry, head of the Friends of Washington Market Park — both moms with tots. Ms. Menin has admitted that her wee lamb has had “accidents” on the way to the available facilities in the Borough of Manhattan Community College atrium; she thinks a new jakes in the park would solve the problem.

This is doubtful. I timed the runs; from the closest playground point to the new-jakes location, it takes a minute for me (gouty and arthritic, probably less speedy than a mom-and-tot couple) to make the run; from the most distant corner it takes about a minute and a half. The additional time to stagger up the stairs and across to the college atrium loo is another 45 seconds. I timed it more than once. Since the new jakes will have one pot per sex, one can guess that if this is popular, the wait on line will easily match or exceed the time for a trip up the stairs.

Anyway, perhaps Ms. Menin’s tot’s pooped panties reflects a problem in toilet training, not in bathroom accessibility?

Ms. Fortenberry’s support is ostensibly significant by virtue of her role as president of the Friends of Washington Market Park.

When Washington Market Park was a neighborhood affair, there was a corporation; its board was elected by neighborhood residents. This corporation represented the neighborhood’s interests. It ceased to exist when the park was taken over by the Parks Department.

The body that Ms. Fortenberry heads is a club. It represents only its own members.

There are substantial neighborhood constituencies the Parks Department, Ms. Menin (we are told, a City Council wannabe) and Ms. Fortenberry have ignored (news article, Nov. 30 - Dec. 6, “City Council race heats up 2 years early”). Some of them are older citizens; some are people with older children, and so on. Many have lived here for decades. Many view the intention of the Parks Department to force a jakes installation, and its support by a — small — subset of newcomer residents, as indicative of a redefinition of Washington Market Park as a kiddie playground, not a pleasance for all in the neighborhood.

That the Parks Dept. should be so imprudent is not surprising; its arrogance in redeveloping Columbus Park is notorious. That two women, both politically ambitious, should ignore the interests of substantial constituencies in pushing unpopular agenda is severely disturbing.
Donald Jenner

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