Volume 21, Number 41 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | February 20 - 26, 2009
Letters to the editor
Blame peds, not cars
To The Editor:
The tragic accident at West and Albany Sts. cannot be fully understood until the Downtown Express and other news sources uncover and report “who had the green light at the time of the accident” (news article, Feb. 13 – 19, “Young woman killed crossing West St.”). Indeed, your newspaper does the community a disservice by ramping up neighborhood rage with one-sided articles like Candida L. Figueroa’s companion piece (news article, “Residents say other streets are also unsafe”).
Let’s look at the lesson we learned from Queens Blvd., the so-called “Boulevard of Death.” The senseless deaths and vehicular carnage was finally halted only when the city’s Dept. of Transportation installed fences along the median strips so that oblivious pedestrians could no longer blithely jaywalk from the middle of those long avenue blocks.
Here too on West St., no amount of traffic agents or ticket-writing police officers can save hapless souls like the one reporter Julie Shapiro described: “a suited man clutching a Starbucks cup darted across one lane of traffic against the light.” Ask any New York motorist about pedestrians perambulating in front of moving cars, like zombies in “Dawn of the Dead.” We’ve all got to play by the (traffic) rules, not just motorists.
Taking up the issue
To The Editor:
Re your Jan. 30 - Feb. 5 issue:
Is one of our public parks — about one-fourth the size of Central Park — never to open at the end of this fiscal year? Who, besides our frugal governor, may say what will happen with Governors Island year (news article, “Governors Isle officials hopeful for money to reopen”). Many rode the free weekend ferryboat out there in summers’ past, some with bicycles, some to hear music, many to view the island’s acres of open space, view the waterfront or revisit the arguably first European settlement in what is now Manhattan.
Now “World Depression” becomes the fearful excuse for diverting state and city monies — where? Alas, the frugal, thrifty policymakers have also given up on their announced support for affordable housing and their political plank,
the prevention of homelessness. Your lead article by Julie Shapiro quotes Community Board 1 and Battery Park City Authority officers (“Gov makes grab for B.P.C. money”). They seem unlikely to find the will, much less the funds for building affordable housing. What, after all is B.P.C. but a place where the likes of a Joe Torre can find affordable shelter? The rest of you can go to Jersey (or Sark or Guernsey, if you’re hoity-toity.)
But as you went to press, Trinity Church published this appeal in its newsletter: “Because of recent changes in New York City funding and policies for
the homeless, our ministry [of the John Heuss House]... appears to have run its course in its current state. Our commitment to the homeless ... does not change.”
In your issue, you also show a proud pair: Mayors Bloomberg of New York City and Cohen of Amsterdam (news article, “400 years later, city goes Dutch on Hudson festival”).
They plan to concelebrate here and in Holland the anniversary of Hudson’s sailing into uncharted waters); they’re going to commemorate the exploration with tulips in the Bronx and something or other on Governors Island! Not if the politic, you know, governor and the Assembly speaker (supposedly representing Downtown) have anything to do with it — the excuse: The numbers in the Paulson, um ... Geithner plan as reformulated and amended by the, you know, fumbling federal Congress.
Meanwhile Governors Island (along with South St.) loses F.D.N.Y. fire protection because of alleged city funding priorities.
And what will become of the jobs of federal park rangers who tell us
about the Civil War prison cum-War of 1812 Castle Williams? Or the remnants of Fort Jay?
Tourists traipsing up to the island? See it by helicopter, since you can afford the hotel tax re-imposed by a subservient City Council who think of their own jobs and not those of hotel and residence club employees.
Want compassion? Tell it to the shivering homeless who more and more invade the subways not to sleep, but to beg out loud. Though the lobbyists will see that the luxury condo developers and bankers thrive on. Lordy, how the execs of reconfigured, but not quite nationalized, banks, thrive on! Just don’t call it “thrift.”
To The Editor:
Thanks to Josh Rogers for distilling the truth in “Council pokes holes in Chatham Sq. plan” (news article, Feb. 13 - 19). We were stunned to read that “City officials expressed frustration at the Council hearing because some aspects of the plan have been discussed at community meetings for years.” Imagine our frustration and anger when for years, we have been raising the same criticism of the Chatham Square Reconstruction Plan whether at Community Board 2 or 3 meetings or at One Police Plaza mitigation meetings, yet we continue to read/hear how officials deliberately misrepresent the community’s support for their plan, most recently at the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. board presentation. If not for the intervention of Judy Rapfogel, chief of staff to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the board would not have known of the strong community and two community boards’ opposition to the plan.
At the City Council hearing, when the Dept. of Transportation was pressed repeatedly by Transportation Committee Chair John Liu to come up with names of community entities or individuals who support the D.O.T.’s Chatham Square plan none were given.
We have objected to the short-sighted elimination of an important crosswalk used by school children (revealed for the first time when the map was posted in late November) and the introduction of “un-natural” crosswalks which will encourage jaywalking. In meeting after meeting, we have opposed the reduction of the Bowery to two working traffic lanes. With so many streets converging at the lower half of Chatham Square and facing a blockaded Park Row, we need three southbound Bowery traffic lanes to absorb traffic. Would the D.O.T. dare propose reducing traffic lanes to two at Union Square or Times Square? Why do it at Chatham Square? If you’re in an ambulance or waiting for a fire truck to navigate down the Bowery during peak hours — start praying.
We implore the L.M.D.C. board to stop the madness and withhold the $50 million funding for this project until there is true transparency, community support, a redesign that is based on pedestrian safety studies, true traffic improvements, future access to Park Row and a clear understanding of the effect of multiple reconstructions nearby. Vote NO to the D.O.T. sending out for construction bids at the end of the month.
Civic Center Residents
To The Editor:
Re “Friends and foes reflect on Pagan” (news article, Feb. 13 - 19):
When I was a new mother on the Lower East Side I thanked Antonio Pagan for making Tompkins Square Park a place where I could bring my babies. One of my daughter’s first Spanish expressions was “Basta, Mommy!” Maybe all his ideas were not mainstream, but diversity of opinion is important in all communities. I was sorry to read about his decline and I hope he is at peace.
To The Editor:
Just read your analysis/obituary for Antonio Pagan and wanted to tell you I thought it was a very good piece. I covered him in City Hall and he was a very complex figure. Irascible, funny, sneaky, disingenuous, very smart, tenacious, informed, hardworking, willing to exploit and be exploited by Giuliani.
I remember when the anarchists/Yippies/squatters/whatever had these fliers all around calling for the disruption of the inauguration of the “fascist gangster” Antonio Pagan.
To this day, I cannot tell you if I was a fan of his. You wrote a complex encomium to a complex man. Good work.
To The Editor:
Well, I didn’t think you could do it, but it is a fair and balanced article. It won’t satisfy the haters, but then nothing will. But it should be recognized that all of us, on both sides, deeply cared for our neighborhood and were willing to fight for it. And all of us have lost.
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.