Volume 17 • Issue 33 • Jan. 7 - 13, 2005

Letters to the Editor

N.Y.P.D. & traffic problems

To The Editor:
Re “Plan tries to make sense out of Chinatown’s streets” (news article, Dec. 31 – Jan. 6):

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s final solution to the traffic and congestion problems in Chinatown are a reminder of H.L. Mencken’s observation on problem-solving: “For every problem there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong.”

Pumping money into the construction of a plaza on Park Row filled with trees, moving Kimlau Square to another public space can only add to the congestion and traffic mayhem, which was created by the N.Y.P.D. bureaucracy, for the N.Y.P.D. bureaucracy and against the welfare of the neighborhood.

Under the hegemony of Mayor Guiliani and the now infamous Bernard Kerik, the Municipal Parking lot under Police headquarters was closed in the summer of 2001. This arbitrary closing led to a quantum leap in traffic confusion and parking difficulties. Park Row was closed after 9/11, and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg have continued the closure since they took over in Jan. 2002.

Unless the needs of the neighborhood take priority over the perks of the police bureaucracy, the plague will worsen; and the only ones to benefit from the expenditure of public funds will be the automobiles on Park Row that will be shaded by leafy trees.

Shelly Estrin

Don’t divide Downtown

To The Editor:
RE “Downtown money should focus on longtime residents” by Thomas S. Goodkind (Talking Point, Spending Downtown’s Community Money, Dec. 31 - Jan. 6):

In 1976, my family and I were among the first households to move into Independence Plaza in Tribeca.

Although I moved out of town in 1987 for career reasons, I.P.N. remained home. I visit it and Tribeca often. Since 2002, I have lived in Battery Park City.

When I first arrived as a new B.P.C. resident, I felt that a few people (especially on the “Battery Park City Online” message board) seemed intent on focusing on the fact that there were a lot of new residents in the neighborhood. Indeed some of them accused the new residents of all sorts of unsavory behavior (e.g., they make more noise). As someone who lived in Lower Manhattan before Battery Park City was built, and who has had to endure the gentrification (e.g., a “new” North Moore St. resident made a snide comment about my outfit) and the population explosion of Tribeca, this attitude is quite ironic.

I find it especially disturbing that a member of Community Board 1, Thomas S. Goodkind, is also engaging in these demarcation activities. Why should incentives be given only to residents who lived here before 9/11? Mr. Goodkind states that “...the great rebuilding about to commence will truly test your dedication to remain here.” These rebuilding hardships will not discriminate pre-9/11 residents from post-9/11 residents and we need to face them as one community.

Mr. Goodkind also puts in a dig towards residents who, “take advantage of incentives, and move out afterward.” Well, a lot of the new residents who left Lower Manhattan were forced to leave due to substantial rent or condo fee increases. Indeed some pre-9/11 residents were also forced to move due to these dramatic living increases.

My condo fee rose 29 percent less than a year after I moved in due to major increases in insurance rates and real estate taxes (+22 percent)! To make matters worse, the Battery Park City Authority receives an ANNUAL 4 percent increase in the lease fees it charges to residents of Battery Park City. Consequently, the increases in real estate taxes, insurance rates and B.P.C. lease payments were greater than the amount from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. incentives. A lot of people simply could not afford those increases — one such individual was profiled in the Downtown Express ( news article, Jan. 23 – 29, 2004, “Steep rent hikes as grants near end”). It should be remembered that New York’s economy is just beginning to recover.

Lastly, most of the apartments in B.P.C. are studios or one bedrooms — which typically have above average turnover!

While Mr. Goodkind states that L.M.D.C. support is needed to insure community stability, I would like to note that the end of divisive statements of pre- versus post- 9/11 residents would also contribute to community stability.

Judith-Noelle Lamb

Rendering by Dbox courtesy of the L.M.D.C.

Rendering of visitors looking at the names in the proposed World Trade Center memorial designed by Michael Arad, Peter Walker and Max Bond.

W.T.C. names

To The Editor:
I commend the Downtown Express for their editorial, “Don’t rush decision on names,” (Dec. 24 – 30). Finally, someone speaks some common sense on this issue: how to handle the names of those killed 9/11 at the W.T.C. memorial.

Poor leadership from the governor on down through the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. has turned this into a complicated, terrible mess of nonsensical issues, pitting families that lost loved ones against each other.

The L.M.D.C. issued a Memorial Mission Statement that intentionally excluded the words, and thus the concepts of, sacrifice and heroism. It was their stated purpose to create a memorial that neither recognized nor honored the 403 rescue workers who gave their lives Sept. 11. 

In an attempt to placate these families, they, in the “final” design of the W.T.C. memorial, decided to put a department “shield” beside each rescue worker name, randomly placed.

The governor explained this choice of “honor” this way: “While those who rushed to the W.T.C. were heroes, there were many civilians who were heroes whom we will never know.” True. I know of one: Abe Zelmanowitz who stayed behind with his friend, a quadriplegic. But how does that bear on properly recognizing and honoring the rescue workers?

The men of Sept. 11 served by company and under a commanding officer. To list them not by company and without rank is a disgrace and an insult to their memory and sacrifice. And it in no way “equalizes” the treatment with civilian heroes like Zelmanowitz. I would suggest that it insults them also by demeaning their sacrifice into a bizarre game of one-upmanship.

The effect of all this was to leave the names of all the victims with no identification beyond their name. The L.M.D.C. feels that all other information is improper and unfit for you, the visitor, to be aware of. So don’t look for the 658 names from Cantor Fitzgerald, people who shared God knows what emotion in their last moments together.

Michael Arad at least, defends his choice of random listing on artistic merits; he feels it reflects the attacks’ “haphazard brutality.” He’s wrong, but at least it’s honest. There was little random to the meaning of 9/11; the attacks were methodically planned and ruthlessly carried out. These weren’t accidents or the tsunamis of the Indian Ocean.

Yuguang Zheng, 65, and his wife, Shuyen Yang, 62, returning to China after a long stay with their daughter in Baltimore, were on American Airlines flight 77. Their family has said their only comfort is knowing the devoted couple were together. At the W.T.C. Memorial they will be parted, and because of their Chinese names, nothing will even identify them for most visitors as a man or woman. To separate this couple at the W.T.C. memorial is — I’m sorry — my definition of “haphazard brutality.”
Michael Burke
Michael Burke’s brother, Capt. William F. Burke, Jr. of Engine 21, was killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

Soho parking

To The Editor:
There’s much to admire in Carl Rosenstein’s letter last week urging more on-street free parking in Soho, especially its collegial tone (Letters, Dec. 31 – Jan. 6). Carl is an activist leader on many fronts, and he has generously supported my activism against cars and trucks.

But even Carl can’t defend the indefensible — in this case, enacting another subsidy for users of private autos in New York City, and in walkable, transit-rich Lower Manhattan to boot.

It’s Economics 101: reducing the cost to keep a car in Lower Manhattan guarantees that there will be more of them, imposing costs on the rest of us and paying next to nothing for the privilege.

What’s most objectionable about adding to the car population isn’t that cars foul the air (which they actually do less than they used to) or even that they guzzle petroleum, as consequential as that is. It’s their very presence — the space they take up, the need for vigilance they impose, that the rest of us must behave according to their rules (to paraphrase the European ecologist Wolfgang Sachs).

Let the car-owners pay for occupying our public and psychic space. Is that too much to ask?

Charles Komanoff

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