Volume 17 • Issue 27 | Dec. 03 - Dec. 09, 2004

Letters to the editor

E.P.A. on air quality

To The Editor:
With the publication of the World Trade Center Health Registry, the many concerns that have been voiced by the community and elected officials for the past three years have been confirmed: The dust and debris from Ground Zero was highly toxic and the Downtown workers and members of that community, as well as those who bravely helped in the rescue and clean-up of Ground Zero, have been subjected to a major, long-term health hazard.

With just under half of those surveyed who were closest to the site of the attacks reporting respiratory problems, the question that looms ever larger is why did the Environmental Protection Agency decide to not warn residents and workers of the toxicity of the smoke, fumes and dust pervading the area around Ground Zero? Why did the E.P.A. encourage workers and residents to return to their lives and simply clean up with a wet rag? In fact, the E.P.A. has shamelessly dragged its feet in testing the safety of the area around Ground Zero, failing to perform a full range of tests, using weak or outdated screening processes, and leaving many sites and communities unchecked. Even more alarmingly, some reports suggest that this laxness may have been encouraged by the White House. For example, a 165-page report issued on Aug. 21, 2003 by the E.P.A.’s inspector general has shown that the White House Committee on Environmental Quality blocked health risk information that the E.P.A. wanted to release to the public following the attack in 2001.

It is an outrage that for so long the voices of New Yorkers expressing their suspicion that the E.P.A. misled them about the post-9/11 air quality have gone unheeded. The results of the Health Registry is further evidence that their suspicions were well-founded. I cannot help but wonder whether the results reported by the registry would have been so stark if the E.P.A. had both made the public aware of the full risks and carried out the proper de-contamination procedures. While this question might never be answered, the sense that the E.P.A. did not do all that was in its power to protect the public in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks will always remain. As a result, many New Yorkers’ faith in the agency and in their government’s ability and commitment to protecting its citizens has been seriously damaged.

The federal government’s willingness to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to wage a war to protect the American people from dangers abroad whose imminence had yet to be proven, while skimping on the resources necessary to protect Americans against proven, albeit longer-term risks at home, smacks of the highest order of hypocrisy.
Deborah J. Glick
Assemblymember, 66th District

Board’s true position

To The Editor:
“C.B. 1 backs De Niro group’s taller hotel plan” (news article, Nov. 19 – 25) misrepresents Community Board 1’s position on the matter. The resolution, passed by the full board on Nov. 16, notes that the hotel design proposed for the corner of Greenwich and N. Moore Streets “is a great improvement on all previous proposals [for this site] with two important exceptions.”

One exception has to do with a skylight detail. The other exception, the resolution goes on to say, is “about the addition of one story…adding 12 feet to the overall height of [earlier plans] and adding 8,500 square feet of bulk, which will require a Board of Standards and Appeals variance.”

The resolution concludes by recommending that the Landmarks Preservation Commission approve the hotel design application only after addressing the noted concerns, chief among them, the height and bulk issues. To specifically headline your article as you did is a direct contradiction of the facts. Furthermore, the zoning variance request necessary to construct a structure of this size at Greenwich and N. Moore will require a further review by the Community Board’s Tribeca Committee.
Bruce L. Ehrmann
Chairperson, C.B. 1’s Landmarks Committee

Sculpture’s too big

To The Editor:
Thank you for covering the story of the statue being removed from Hanover Square (news article, Nov. 19 – 25, “The British garden is coming, but some wonder about statue”). Yes, the residents here are upset by the removal of the statue, but many are as upset by the replacement of the new sculpture.

The size of this sculpture is totally out of scale of this small square. The area of the sculpture is 8 feet wide by 5 feet deep, the size of a shed that you can walk in, and 19.5 feet high.

Given the fact that this sculpture will be 12 to 15 feet from a residential building’s entrance, and the same distance from two commercial stores and a restaurant’s entrance, has there been any consideration for these factors? The commercial activities will suffer due to lesser visibility caused by this wall. Is it appropriate to locate this massive sculpture so close to commercial storefronts? And what about residents’ safety since the wall will provide a perfect screen for criminal activities.

In addition to the close proximity to commercial and residential activities, the placement of the sculpture itself is in the line of the view corridor of the East River. I still remember that the Seaport committee of Community Board 1 couldn’t understand why the two ticket booth housings couldn’t be combined to eliminate one structure, since any structure will block the view of the river. This ticket booth housing is no taller than 8 feet. Why do we at Hanover Square have to accept a two-story high sculpture in our view corridor and at our front yard?

A wall sculpture is never welcome in a public plaza because it creates a barrier, visual and physical, to communication and interaction.

The British Memorial Garden Trust fails to present a true picture of the massive sculpture to the public and the residents on the square. The official image of the sculpture model on the British Memorial Garden’s Web site and the same image being reprinted over and over in newspapers is a smokescreen of the sculpture’s true size. The female figure shown has to be at least 8 feet tall to make the sculpture to scale of close to 20 feet high. It’s a total distortion of what the true size of the sculpture is. The sculpture will be much taller and wider and deeper than what the image suggests. Same as on a plan drawing provided for 3 Hanover Square posted on the bulletin board.

Since the size of the sculpture was mistakenly presented in its previous reviews, I think it is necessary for the involved parties to review it again, in the size and also in the context with its neighbors. The sculpture’s impact to the waterfront view corridor should also be examined. Last but not least, the Trust should start a dialogue with the residents and commercial store owners on the square. It’s a long term relationship, and it’s time to start building.
Tammy To

Soccer coverage

To The Editor:
Re “Sun sets on soccer season” (news article, Nov. 26 – Dec. 2): 

Thanks for the great season ending coverage. It has created a buzz among the kids and their parents in Tribeca and Battery Park City. You seem to have captured the spirit of DSL with the emphasis on team play, skills and fun, not to mention our love of photos.  Thank you for your support and see you next season.
Don Schuck
Downtown Soccer League President

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