Letter to the Editor
Thompson’s good call
To The Editor:
I think the recent letter from my esteemed Borough of Manhattan Community College colleague, Prof. Pagen, misses the point (letter by Diane R. Pagen, April 9 – 15, “What about the poor, Bill?”). No one likes the idea of using Battery Park City money initially earmarked for affordable housing to cover shortfalls in the city and state budgets; the article to which she refers, but perhaps did not read closely enough, makes this clear (news article, April 2 – 8,“Thompson helps mayor and governor grab B.P.C. money”).
Ms. Pagen’s second error is to connect this with Bill Thompson as controller and mayoral candidate. In that same Downtown Express article, Mr. Thompson says his current position as head of the B.P.C. Authority alters his perspective, that as controller he would have (did, in fact) take a different view. Mr. Thompson is a consummate political pragmatist; he considers his role and the exigencies with which he is confronted, and makes the best call he can. This is why he would have been a superior mayor (and — pardon the obiter dictum — why the Democratic Party apparatus, that failed to turn out the vote to defeat Bloomberg, deserves more than a bit of opprobrium).
Certainly, there is a shortage of “affordable housing.” This is true even when the expression “affordable” refers to folks with incomes in excess of $35,000, and therefore doesn’t begin to include a very large part of the city population which subsists on less. This is a long-standing problem. Mayor Bloomberg promised substantial renovation of existing NYCHA housing stock and substantial new building years ago; he failed to deliver. Mayor Giuliani made such promises; he failed to deliver. And so on. While money is part of the problem, the lack of real political will is perhaps more significant.
One is inclined to note, an understanding of political will and how it arises was significant in the success of the pioneers in social work; one thinks in such a context of Lillian Wald & Jacob Riis. One wonders what it was — perhaps the transition from engaged immersion in the needful community to bourgeois professional disengagement and the “9-to-5” attitude of modern, commonly civil-servant, social workers? — that has contributed to failure to understand political will?
Donald Jenner teaches management and marketing at B.M.C.C.
To The Editor:
Re “No fantasy island, N.Y.U.’s grand plan to build is beginning now” (news article, April 9 – 15):
If designed properly, the additional space that N.Y.U. is hoping to build for itself could actually be a great boon to Greenwich Village at large. By creating “more” Greenwich Village where there are now underdeveloped, anti-Village superblocks, it would help relieve the pressure for additional development in the parts of the Village that are already densely developed; and by bringing people to, by and through what are now deadening, obstacle course superblocks, it would increase connectivity between and among the surrounding parts of the Village, Soho and Noho.
However, while the new plan seems to contain some very significant improvements over the plan that appeared to be favored in 2008, it still seems to be essentially one that just adds more towers to the park – rather than one that reintegrates the site into the surrounding Village and creates “more” Village. Adding a fourth tower to the pinwheel, for instance, would do little to add street level commercial space that would shape and animate surrounding open spaces – and it would also make the existing superblock upon which it would be located even more of an obstruction by further blocking off north-south access through the site.
It’s one thing to want to create a “ Rockefeller Center without ice skating” but it’s another thing to understand how to actually do it. Rockefeller Center ’s wonderful public spaces work precisely because they are small, contained and intensely utilized – and are not surrounded by wide-open spaces punctuated by suburban towers-in-a-park. And not only doesn’t Rockefeller Center diminish access through its site by blocking off a street with a tower, it actually creates additional useful streets through its densely developed site.
Battery needs protection
To The Editor:
Since 1995, the Battery Conservancy has worked with Downtown neighborhoods and park users while partnering with city, state and federal entities to rebuild historic Battery Park. In recent years, over $100 million has been dedicated to the revitalization of the Battery’s 25 waterfront acres and its treasured landmark, Castle Clinton National Monument. Today, the Castle and park host over 5 million visitors and 12 million commuters annually.
With such heavy visitor traffic, congestion is a concern, and we must create an appropriate balance to better accommodate the park’s multiple uses.
The Battery is a transport hub with buses, subways, ferries and now bikes all converging along its perimeter. Each day, long lines form inside the park for the ferry service to Liberty and Ellis Islands. And visitors are drawn from across the world to experience its numerous monuments, including the East Coast War Memorial, American Merchant Mariners’ Memorial, Korean War Memorial and the memorial to the World Trade Center tragedy, as well as historic Castle Clinton. The expanding local residential population is joined by Downtown’s work force as each seeks refuge and pleasure in the park’s magnificent views and spectacular gardens and in the green shade of its mature trees.
With such dynamic and intense activity, the presence of an unlimited number of expressive matter vendors has made it increasingly difficult to navigate pathways and enjoy the park’s beauty and enchantment. I do believe that expressive matter vendors add to the park experience. But the Parks Department’s proposal to limit the number of vendors in a given space is a good idea. We need a balance between vending and other park uses. We must not run the risk of transforming the Battery into a full-time commercial marketplace.
Under the proposed rules, designated vending spots will be established along the perimeter of the park, providing vendors with an opportunity to display their merchandise to a great cross-section of New Yorkers and tourists, while at the same time preserving much of the Battery’s interior for its intended contemplative and historical purposes.
President and founder of The Battery Conservancy
Political failure at St. Vinnie
To The Editor:
Re “With St. Vincent’s closing, Downtown Hospital prepared to help” (news article, April 9 - 15):
I see us falling into becoming a Third World country.
Mr. Bloomberg’s first comment that I’ve ever heard regarding St. Vincent’s problems is that the Fire Department will take over the ambulance routes. And where are Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and, yes, Mr. President? Who will take care of the how many hundreds of thousands who live and/or work between Roosevelt Hospital and the Battery on the West Side in the event of the next attack that we keep hearing will occur; just a matter of time they say.
They also say St. Vincent’s will now be forced to sell off its property. Huh? I guess now’s finally a good time for those condo builders to buy cheap without having to bargain.
Build more condos for more people without the proper infrastructure, without an emergency room without a hospital, or schools. What about that, “Mr. Education Mayor?”
Anyone passed by the O’Toole building lately and seen all the office furniture being thrown away? And to think, they were going to build a “state-of-the-art hospital.”
As if things are not bad enough, now there is the report of the Section 8 deficit and perhaps 10,000 New York City Housing Authority residents losing their apartments? What’s next? Food riots?
Our leaders are silent.
Pamela L. La Bonne
To The Editor:
This is an open letter to all New York State and New York City politicians and the administration of St. Vincent’s Hospital: Your intention and voting to close down this 160-year-old West Village hospital is inexcusable, totally unacceptable! Outrageous!
You yourselves are indeed responsible because you did nothing to help!
Some of you have multibillions of dollars and, if you had any sense, any care, you could have assisted everybody with your unspent, unshared donations.
I happen to be a senior citizen with serious health issues, and were I to encounter (heaven forbid) a life-or-death emergency, which could happen, I would have to travel three to five miles all the way east to any of the other hospitals there, like N.Y.U. Medical Center, which is excellent, but really is too far away.
We all know what happens if we should have a stroke or heart attack and cannot reach medical care immediately!
Every one of you who is directly responsible should be very thoroughly ashamed of yourself! But, evidently, none of you politicos care about that.
I know what I am talking about, and seriously. I am a 72-year-old senior citizen homeowner and Village resident of 22 years. My home actually faces most of St. Vincent’s Hospital about three blocks north.
It is outrageous that you are throwing this hospital out, and all of us along with it! Shame on you!