Letters to the Editor
To The Editor:
Many thanks to Julie Shapiro for her well-written and extremely informative article on the Battery Park City Authority ground rent increases in the December 5 - 11 issue (news article, Urstadt blocks B.P.C. condo deal, citing affordable housing concerns). It is hard to understand why B.P.C.A. is taking such a hard line on these drastic increases. B.P.C. property owners already pay the highest real estate taxes in the city by a wide margin. Surely asking to smooth the increases over a number of years is a reasonable request.
This community was battered more than any other by the events of 9/11 and is being battered again by fallout from the financial crisis and its effects on Downtown Manhattan. B.P.C. already has a fair amount of empty commercial space and that is probably going to increase in the next year. Making the common charges in B.P.C. condos close to unaffordable will punish current residents and make selling those units next to impossible. Is that really what the B.P.C.A. wants to see happen?
Im glad that our excess real estate taxes support affordable housing for the rest of the city. We also pay high taxes to maintain our beautiful neighborhood parks, which are open to everyone and widely enjoyed. Clearly, B.P.C. has a sterling record of giving back to the City of New York. In turn, I believe we have earned some consideration on these steep ground rent increases.
Please continue to keep us informed. It is much appreciated.
Save Engine 4
To The Editor:
Being someone that Engine 4 was the first responder to after a very bad accident that I had on January 5, 2004, and them also being the first F.D.N.Y. fire apparatus on the scene at my apartment building fire, and helping my then wife Ellie and my 5-month-old daughter Amelia out of the building at 33 Gold St., and finally with the influx of thousands of new residents to the Financial District in the coming months and years. I strongly recommend to the mayor to leave Engine 4 on a 24/7 work schedule, and not as if it were written that an E.M.S. (engines are also first responders to E.M.S. alarms) and fires only happen in the day time.
Chafing at Chatham
To The Editor:
The Dept. of Transportations response to the Dec. 2nd Chatham Square reconfiguration hearing (news article, Dec. 5 11, Defying the shouts, city says full speed on Chatham Square) was a sham. The plan that the city proposes to implement is deeply flawed. It is deceptively alluring when they present the plan as a $50 million traffic improvement that would increase pedestrian safety and add greenery. If they truly wish to green, bring it on! Weve been asking for trees since the last Chatham Square reconstruction in l999. In reality the improvements are not based on pedestrian safety studies as one traffic engineer admitted at the hearing. One example is the loss of a crosswalk at the corner of St. James and Oliver St. Many children currently cross there to go to P.S. 1 and St. James School. Forcing school children to cross two streets at a greater distance does not increase pedestrian safety.
Bus traffic would be forced to make additional and difficult turns to Park Row and to Worth St. from a narrowed Bowery, and they would cross two traffic lights, instead of the current one. Making Park Row single-laned, restricts emergency vehicles, compromises safety and its use as an escape route in a true Lower Manhattan catastrophe. The implementation of this expensive elephant ostensibly to improve traffic will destroy the fragile economy at a major intersection that links the citys east/west/north/south.
Most troubling is Mayor Bloombergs handling of the entire Chatham Square reconfiguration plan that attempted, but failed, to pit community groups against each other while bulldozing across Chinatown. Here as in neighborhoods throughout this city from the communities at Washington Square Park, Union Square and Yankee Stadium -- we have all fought the reconfiguration or takeover of public spaces without true community input. From the rezoning struggles impacting poor and minority neighborhoods in Chinatown, Harlem, Willets Point, Red Hook and the Atlantic Yards the fake veneer of community participation has been painted on by Mayor Bloombergs heavy, sometimes hidden hand not seen since the days of Robert Moses.
Civic Center Residents Coalition
To The Editor:
In your Dec. 11 issue, Dara Lehon complained about being one of approximately 151,000 bike riders (Downtown Notebook by Dara Lehon, Dec. 5 11, Bikes and the city: An unsexy tale). I am one of 8,000,000 walkers and I have plenty of complaints about the bike riders. They do not obey traffic laws. They dont stop at red lights and they often ride against traffic (on the sidewalks too). I have a suggestion for N.Y.C. and the terrible money crunch. Since large portions of the streets are now officially painted off limits to any vehicle except bikes, have bikes registered. Charge them $29 per year. On hundred and fifty-one thousand times 29 is not chump change. But more important the people not obeying the law could be held responsible. It is terrible when a car or truck hits a bike but it is also bad when a bike hits a pedestrian.
To The Editor:
What a crybaby bike rider Dara Lehon is. And what an obviously bad bicyclist. Not only did she let a van hit and drag her, she has previous bike-related scars on her shoulder, hands (gloves make all the difference), and right elbow all accumulated in the last year! As one who has ridden on the streets of N.Y.C. every day for the last 25 years, through blizzards, on treacherous ice, in hurricanes, during 9/11, at night and everything in between, I have learned one thing: Whatever happens to you once you enter the street on a bike, is your own fault. And if you dont ride that way, you can get hurt like Dara has been, or worse. Ditto unsecured bikes that are stolen, whether you run into the deli for 30 seconds, or dont lock it up before you opt to be tended by an E.M.T. Especially a $1000 bike like her San Remo Bianchi that was driven away while she was in the ambulance. Maybe its time for Dara to switch to a Segway. (Used ones go for about the same price as a San Remo, so she can still brag about how awesome her vehicle is.)
To The Editor:
In the Nov. 28 Dec. 4 edition, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly tells us the N.Y.P.D. will screen all traffic flowing through the W.T.C. site (news article, Kelly speaks frankly about the threats to his Downtown neighbors). Church St. will be cut in half between east and west, and traffic severely monitored. An underground vehicle screening center will be set up off of Liberty St. to screen all vehicles passing through the site.
In the same edition, Janno Lieber, construction director of the site for Silverstein Properties, tells us Greenwich St. is the north-south spine of the project. You cannot have a functioning W.T.C. if it is not finished and operable (news article, Silverstein exec is frustrated with Ports W.T.C progress).
Anybody else see a contradiction here?
I mean, would anyone describe the traffic at the site as described in Kellys plan as operable?
The Kelly article does not mention Greenwich St., but I dont think traffic will be flowing through without a care.
Heres an idea: how about designing the site with security in mind? Which might call for a large plaza area, completely shut off and set considerably back from traffic and perhaps a few steps higher. How about this: from Church St., a sidewalk, space, a few steps, a space, a few more steps then a large plaza, inaccessible to traffic.
And, um, considering the attacks in Mumbai, how about limiting pedestrian access to this plaza? Say, one broad opening off Church St. that could still be policed effectively. Then limited access from the north and south which could be easily secured. And forget about access directly from the West Side Highway. Who needs it? On that side, in fact, the plaza would have to be raised high enough to prevent a terrorists truck from accessing the site.
Leaving us with the original W.T.C. plaza.
Everything old is new again.
Maybe, just maybe its time to get over ourselves. Maybe 9/11 wasnt just a chance for self-appointed geniuses to show off their brilliance. Maybe, and I dont want to get crazy here, but maybe all concerned parties ought to sit down together and come up with a plan for the site that actually works.
Artist vendors respond
To The Editor:
Re Illegal vendor problems (Letter by Tim Clark, Dec. 5 11): Tim Clark apparently cant read very well or else his gross misquoting of my letter is a pathetic attempt at parody (Letters, Nov. 28 Dec. 4, Soho stories). For the record, Ill correct his misstatements.
1. I am the president of A.R.T.I.S.T., which represents the citys 1,500 legal street artists. I was elected three times to this position. There are no illegal vendors in the group and I do not represent illegal vendors.
2. I have never made any complaints whatsoever about Sohos trees. I personally love trees and am a contributing member of the Arbor Day Foundation. My letter criticized illegal planters, not trees. If anything, artists would like to see many more trees planted throughout N.Y.C. Most of the curbside planters in Soho have nothing live growing in them. Most are illegal. Virtually all, according to sworn federal court testimony by the N.Y.P.D., were placed there by Soho Alliance landlords solely to obstruct legal artists and vendors from using the sidewalks. These planters cause far more sidewalk congestion than artists or vendors do.
3. Im also all for trash cans. The point in my letter was that Alan Gerson is having trash cans with ads for himself situated right in Soho crosswalks at the same time he is alleging that artists and vendors block pedestrians.
To The Editor:
Tim Clark is at it again his never-ending crusade to categorize vendors of First Amendment protected materials as illegal is stuck in an infinite loop. His deliberate misquoting of our elected leader, Robert Lederman is immature at best.
Why does Mr. Clark not complain that 80 percent of Soho living spaces that are designated by the City of New York as Artist In Residence, are occupied by residents who do not have A.I.R. certification, directly in violation of the law?
I quote directly from the N.Y.C. Department of Cultural Affairs:
Artist Certification exists to protect the artist community.
Any person who rents, subleases, or purchases a loft in SoHo, NoHo, and/or AIR space elsewhere should be certified by the Department of Cultural Affairs PRIOR TO OCCUPANCY.
Shall we take a head count, Mr. Clark?