Volume 20, Number 36 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | Feb. 1 - 7 , 2008

Letters to the Editor

Development looms

To The Editor: Mixed Use (Jan. 25 – 31, “Chinatown frontier”) quotes Wellington Chen of Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation dismissing local Chinatown anxiety about developers: “Don’t you think [the developers] would have scooped it up?”

Just wait until the protective rezoning of the Lower East Side is implemented, ending out-of-scale development here. Chinatown will then be the last vulnerable frontier for Downtown developers. That’s when it will be scooped up. The city has mapped, outlined and targeted it for development.

Mr. Chen also looks forward to affordable development. But in a city where affordable housing programs are all 80 percent market-rate, even so-called affordable housing developers are de facto 80 percent market-rate sponsors — affordable housing programs are back doors for out-of-scale development, upzoning, gentrification and community displacement. In their hands, the future of Chinatown will be the Avalon-Whole Foods building on Bowery and Houston, a huge glass and steel street wall of 80 percent luxury housing with a single upscale shopping center chain store.

In a city run by a development monger, be careful what you wish for. Rob Hollander

Albany failures

To The Editor: Re Former Schumer aide challenges Connor in Senate race (news article, Jan. 18 – 24):

The comment by Sen. Martin Connor’s campaign that the only major change we need in Albany is Democratic control of the State Senate, demonstrates just how out of touch Sen. Connor is — and exactly why it matters which Democrats we have representing us.

In Albany, the Democratic and Republican parties have been full partners in the failures of our state government. Both view the important issues facing New York as opportunities to score points over one another rather than to get things done. And as we have seen in Washington, just because a party takes over does not assure meaningful change.

Will a Democratic-controlled State Senate actually push to repeal the Urstadt Law and give New York City control over its housing policy? Will there finally be a vote to legalize gay marriage? And what about bringing back the commuter tax, which Senator Connor voted to repeal and in doing so cost New York City hundreds of millions of dollars which now, as the city faces a multi-billion deficit, we could really use?

Apparently Sen. Connor would rather engage in negative campaigning than defend his record and address the issues. He is the embodiment of politics as usual in Albany, not a departure from the broken status quo. Jonna McLaughlin

Traffic’s high price

To The Editor: Traffic jams in Lower Manhattan are a serious problem — and the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission has proven it is interested in a serious solution.

On Jan. 10, the commission proposed five options for congestion pricing that would reduce traffic and generate more revenues for our underfunded transit system. Not only did the commission carefully evaluate Mayor Bloomberg’s original plan, it offered four alternatives and incorporated many proposals suggested by the public during the course of seven hearings. This interim report should put to rest any concerns that the commission is anything less than an independent, results-oriented body.

Each of the five plans has good aspects, and only one should be ruled out categorically, because it would disqualify New York from receiving $354 million in federal aid pledged by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Otherwise, the important thing isn’t which plan the commission selects. The important thing is to do something about our traffic and transit dilemma before it gets worse.

Mass transit is truly the lifeblood Downtown. Hundreds of thousands of people converge here from all over the tri-state area to work, shop and live. But the trains are terribly overcrowded, the stations are poorly maintained and the timetable exists merely on paper. Meanwhile, traffic congestion costs the metro area $13 billion in lost wages, lost business and wasted fuel.

New Yorkers deserve better and congestion pricing — in one form or another — is the best way to go. Marcia Bystryn Executive director, New York League of Conservation Voters

Safety concern

To The Editor: Re “N.Y.P.D. looks to regulate environmental detectors” (news article, Jan. 11 - 17):

I was the U.S. Department of Energy’s regional response coordinator for 14 years, responsible for the government’s response to nuclear and radiological incidents in the northeastern U.S. As such, I am painfully aware of the Department of Homeland Security consistently trying to impose its will over the public domain in any matter that could be construed as undermining their “authority” in these type of situations. I am also aware of the relationship between N.Y.P.D. and D.H.S. I am not surprised that D.H.S. and N.Y.P.D. are trying to take this kind of action, but more concerned that the city government would even entertain such a proposal. I was a first responder to ground zero and remained there for four months after which I was assigned to lead an anti-nuclear counter-terrorist group in the northeast. I remember when there was discussion about placing detectors all over the city (I even had to go on a couple of “wild goose chases” because of D.H.S. actions). Given the cover-up during and after 9/11, how can the government even think about limiting the public’s ability to monitor its own safety? Steve Centore

Loving Lonnie’s

To The Editor: Thank you for providing such wonderful memories of Lonnie’s (news article, Sept. 21 – 27, “Preserving Chinatown’s doo-wop era”). It was a pleasant meeting place for the Italian and Chinese teenagers! Charles Fradella

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.

Downtown Express is published by Community Media LLC. 145 Sixth Avenue, New York, NY 10013
Phone: (212) 229-1890 | Fax: (212) 229-2790 | Advertising: 646-452-2465 | © 2007 Community Media, LLC

Written permission of the publisher must be obtainedbefore any of the contents of this newspaper, in whole or in part, can be reproduced or redistributed.