Volume 17 • Issue 7 / July 9 - 15, 2004

Letters to the editor

Who drove Westway’s win?

To The Editor:
Re Your entertaining look back at the Westway controversy (news article, June 18-24, “Westway vets remember the river battles”):

Lawyers, like those you interviewed, think the courtroom is everything. I’d argue that the key to stopping the Westway expressway project wasn’t the enlightened judge who ruled against it, but gutsy professionals who put their careers on the line to make Westway an historic test of fiscal and environmental responsibility.

It was they who convinced the judge of the fatal flaws in the early environmental assessment that provided time for citizens to build the political momentum to “trade-in” Westway’s $2 billion for mass transit funding when our subways were a shambles and the city was bankrupt.

It was they who demonstrated the huge volume of car and trucks that a super-highway would have funneled into already jammed Midtown and Downtown. Contrary to the “expert” quoted in your article, the rebuilt at-grade roadway handles far less traffic than Westway would have: 72,000 vehicles a day vs. 138,000, according to state D.O.T. That’s 66,000 fewer vehicles coming into town, thank goodness.

It was they who mobilized architects to envision more modest roadways that enabled the courts to rule that sacrificing fish spawning grounds was both wrong and unnecessary.

Every New Yorker owes a huge debt of gratitude to the initiatives of Brian Ketcham and Carolyn Konheim (transportation engineer and planner, respectively) which provided the foundation for the gallant opposition leader, Marcy Benstock (Clean Air Campaign) and attorneys to prevail.

Charles Komanoff

Beastly lot

To The Editor:
Your article on a music video at 500 Canal St. noted the sad condition of the “disheveled Tribeca lot” at Canal and Greenwich and reported that it is soon to be developed (Photograph, June 25–July 1, “Tribeca Beasties”).

We hope that the future developer of this rundown corner will be more conscientious than the owner of the past few years, who has allowed this lot to deteriorate into the eyesore it is today. This decaying property is a testament to the damage that can arise when speculators come into a community with no concern or respect for the people living in it. We look forward to the new owner speedily cleaning it up.

Mattiline Clarke

Twins dwarf ‘Freedom’

To The Editor:
Re “Freedom Tower opponents ready for a fight” (news article, July 2–8):

About a year ago, I had the privilege of helping to reopen a Hallmark store at the World Financial Center. The experience of working there at that time is one I will never forget. For weeks as we cleaned the place out, set up the displays and waited for the permits from the city to come through, people impatiently asked us when we would open. And when we finally did, the response was overwhelming. People came into the store and joyfully looked around. With tears in their eyes, they told us how much they had missed that store and how glad they were that we were back. I must admit, by the end of that first day I was pretty emotional myself. This continued for weeks as more W.F.C. employees and Battery Park City residents learned we were open. I realized that it wasn’t the store itself that was significant, but what it represented. It was a reminder of the way life used to be, a life that is still very much missed.

I am proud to work in Lower Manhattan and love this area deeply. Although I am not a resident, I feel more at home Downtown than I do anywhere else. I want nothing more than the very best for it. And the “Freedom” Tower doesn’t come close. The Twin Towers were two massive buildings that reached into the sky, whereas the new tower would be nothing more than an empty glass needle beyond the 70th floor. How is this supposed to fill the void in our lives? How can any of us feel whole again if our neighborhood and our skyline are not restored? I have sat through multiple public hearings at which I saw many wonderful people give of their time, energy and emotions, only to be completely ignored. In all the time I’ve spent Downtown, I have never heard anyone speak with any excitement about the Freedom Tower. Instead, I hear only a deep longing for what we used to have. The Twin Towers are missed, and if what eventually gets built leaves us longing for what was taken from us, we’re always going to feel violated.

I want to thank you for your article about the various groups fighting to have something better than the official plan for our World Trade Center. Downtowners deserve to know that there are other options available than the ones we were presented with during the so-called “public” process. I am convinced that we can do better than what we’ve been given, and that the only way we’ll ever truly be able to feel whole again is to see our Twin Towers restored to our neighborhood and our skyline.

Rachel Snyder

Chatham garage

To The Editor:
I felt your article “Parking garage plan divides Chatham Green” merited expanding of my remarks (news article, July 2–8).

As a member of the board of directors of Chatham Green for nearly ten years, I believe the article may leave

one with an impression that our co-op is divided or that the board operates in secret.

Chatham Green is a wonderful, diverse and prospering community. A co-op that boasts beautiful grounds, well-maintained buildings, an excellent staff, great financials and exceptional neighbors. In fact there are always dozens of prospective buyers lining up to join our family of shareholders.

The board of directors of Chatham Green meets with the shareholders at 10 monthly meetings throughout the year and has the minutes of all meetings distributed door to door. At our last election for the board, the directors who ran did so unopposed with more than 50 percent of our shareholders voting in support of the board. Just in the past few months the board has hosted meetings for the shareholders with the World Trade Center Health Registry, Con Edison and the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.

It was at the L.M.D.C. meeting that “their” idea of an underground garage for Chatham was first presented to the shareholders. The board felt we had an obligation to present this idea to the residents as well as exploring the pros and cons of such a project. As always our shareholders will be informed of all the details should this idea progress any further.

So though my fellow board members and I certainly appreciate the opinions of the 25 residents who attended the meeting, we do not think it reflects the opinion of the majority of the 1000+ residents at Chatham or demonstrates a divide between the board of Directors and shareholders.

Edward Lam

Parking and security

To The Editor:
In her edifying letter to the editor, Jeanie Chin cited the absurdity of the N.Y.P.D. occupation of Park Row, under the guise of security, while in reality making the neighborhood less safe (Letters, June 25 –July 1, “Rockets and Park Row”).

Surely, if what the N.Y.P.D. claims had a grain of truth, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and the enterprising board of directors at Chatham Green would not be planning construction of an underground parking lot on the St. James Place side of Chatham Green.

Apart from the toxic noise and pollutants from building on landfill, such a parking lot may generate income for the boondogglers, but it will certainly not enhance the security or health of the community.

It is time to replace the mantra of lies, lies and security with limits, limits, and responsibility.

Shelly Estrin

N.Y.P.D. takeover

To The Editor:
I am a resident and a business owner on Mott St., and I have been severely affected by the closure of Park Row as well as the takeover of my neighborhood by N.Y.P.D. and court officers who park on my streets illegally (news article, June 18–24, “Some Chinatown residents charge N.Y.P.D. racism – New Park Row suit filed on environmental grounds”).

For the record, I want to let you know that I have been very outspoken on this subject and was even asked to testify before the state Assembly over a year ago.  Since then nothing has changed, except that the N.Y.P.D. representative has lied when he said that he and the N.Y.P.D. have outreached to “members of the community.” I am always in print and at meetings concerning this very issue, I have a store, and I am one of the easiest people to get a hold of, and yet I was never approached by any member of the N.Y.P.D. So they are lying when they tell the media that they have “discussions” and have outreached to Chinatown. They have not.

Jan F. Lee

Towers helped businesses
To The Editor:
Re “9/11 business groups looking for money 3 years later” (news article, June 25-July 1):

If it was not for the Twin Towers, some businesses would never have existed in Downtown Manhattan in the first place.  Those towers contributed for ten million square feet alone on the lower tip of Manhattan and that was all lost on Sept. 11, 2001.  The effects lead to refurbishing existing areas like Tribeca and Soho as well as giving life to a new area known as Battery Park City, which was formed from the deposits that its bathtubs pushed back.  Wall St. even got new offices from those towers.  Also, there were a lot of businesses that said that they would locate in the Twin Towers if they were rebuilt.  If it was not for this debate, they would have been half-constructed at this time.  Because of those debates, businesses had relocated from Downtown Manhattan.  It was those towers that revived Lower Manhattan, not the Freedom Tower.  Other businesses have said that they would not have wanted to work near that building.  The people feel that rebuilding them will revive the economy like they did before as well as bring back a symbol that was lost that day at the same time.  Finally, it is rebuilding the Twin Towers that will restore life to the W.T.C. site, not the Freedom Tower.

Tal Barzilai
Pleasantville, N.Y.

Downtown Express is published by
Community Media LLC.

Downtown Express
487 Greenwich St.,
Suite 6A | New York, NY 10013

All rights reserved.
Downtown Express and downtownexpress.com
are registered trademarks of Community Media, LLC
John W. Sutter, president


Phone: 212.229.1890 | Fax: 212.229.2790
Email: josh@downtownexpress.com


Downtown Express is published by
Community Media LLC.

Downtown Express | 487 Greenwich St., Suite 6A | New York, NY 10013

Phone: 212.242.6162 | Fax: 212.229.2970
Email: news@downtownexpress.com

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.