Volume 21, Number 37 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | January 23 - 29, 2009

Letters to the Editor

Silverstein deserves apology

To The Editor:
In your last issue, Port Authority executive director Chris Ward suggested some of the office towers’ completion at the World Trade Center site may be delayed until the economy is more robust (news article, Jan. 16 – 22, “Port: Recession could change W.T.C. timeline”).  Wasn’t it only a few years ago when then Gov. Pataki and the Port Authority heavy handedly threatened to strip the ground lease for the site from Larry Silverstein in part because he dared to suggest that each tower be completed only after sufficient space was rented?  As the only legitimate real estate executive involved in the entire project, he understood market conditions and variables.  I don’t believe Mr. Ward was involved at that time with this decision, but shouldn’t someone in the P.A., or Gov. Patterson’s office, apologize to Mr. Silverstein for all he was unfairly put through?
John Brindisi
Battery Park City resident

Planning unsafely

To The Editor:
 At last Friday’s hearing of the City Council’s Fire and Criminal Justice Services Committee, F.D.N.Y. Commissioner Scoppetta revealed that agencies charged with overlapping safety responsibilities had failed to speak with each other in making service cutbacks affecting the public safety.  During a fiscal crisis it is especially critical that city agencies coordinate with each other. 

Scoppetta testified that he had no conversations with counter-terrorism officials before deciding to disband a fire company in the Financial District which had just received $1 million worth of decontamination equipment and specialized training.  Commissioner Scoppetta also testified that in planning for Lower Manhattan’s fire protection he had not consulted with the head of the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center, whose job is supposed to include planning for the effects of upcoming construction street closures, which will obviously affect response times. Such mismanagement jeopardizes public safety and wastes vital city resources.  Mayor Bloomberg should live up to his managerial reputation by putting fire protection reductions in the Financial District and elsewhere on hold and then calling in his commissioners together to come up with a coordinated plan that adequately protects the public in the most cost-effective way possible.

Alan J. Gerson
Councilmember of the First District

Simply irrational

To The Editor:
Re “Bridge, brides, bottlenecks raise Chatham Square scare” (news article, Jan. 16 – 22):

“A simpler and more rational intersection at Chatham Square,” as you paraphrased Shin-Pei Tsay of Transportation Alternatives, should be the first consideration in any redesign of the square — a necessary but not sufficient condition for the project.  However, the city is about to start the project and, as Community Board 3’s traffic engineer Brian Ketcham reports, the city has done no pedestrian or safety analysis of either the current configuration or the proposed configuration.  It also has done only a “sunny day” analysis of motor vehicle traffic.  It has done no analysis of the impact of the four-year project on the economic environment of Chinatown.  In short, the city is jumping into this project essentially blind.

As someone who has grown up in the Chatham Square area, I am intimately familiar with its usage patterns and I believe that the proposed plan might have simpler intersections, but is not rational for the area.  After all, the simplest design is no intersection at all — but the ramifications of doing that would give the city reason to pause and perhaps even think.  The fact is the city is proposing taking away key crosswalks which would force school children heading to P.S. 1 to cross more and busier streets.  Unless one knows and cares about the children, the seniors, the people who have to cross these “rational intersections,” one cannot make a balanced and informed decision about the proposed configuration.  The traffic resulting from the redesign would not only be worse in the heavily utilized southbound Bowery-Worth St. route, but probably less able to take spikes in traffic, lane work, or other “unexpected” conditions.

Transportation Alternatives obviously has a better track record than Chinatown residents of getting the city to listen to their concerns.  I encourage them to work with Chinatown residents to convince the city to abandon faulty plans in favor of ones that would work better for the local and general population.  Otherwise, they are simply signing off on the moral equivalent of the Gowanus Expressway through the historic heart of Chinatown.

Danny Chen
Member of the C.B. 3 Chatham Square Task Force and the Chatham Green board

Security, not greed

To The Editor:
Re “Southbridge majority” (Letter by Michael Wishner, Jan. 16 -22):

Thank you Mr. Wishner. Your editorial reply was a bull’s-eye. Myself and others here at Southbridge think it’s unfair for Geraldine Lipschutz to constantly belittle her Southbridge neighbors with the “greed card.”  It’s true a few residents may be “show me the money,” but the majority are like Mr. Wishner, who wrote eloquently that he wants “to know I have security and peace of mind knowing I have outs in case of an emergency.” I believe Mr. Wishner speaks for the Southbridge majority.
William Albert

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 news@DowntownExpress.com or can be mailed to 145 Sixth Ave., N.Y., N.Y. 10013.




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