Letters to the Edito


Eyewitness to mass arrests

To The Editor:

Re “Demonstrators take to the [Wall] street” (news article, Sept. 22):

Sept. 24 was a normal Saturday morning for me. I’m a panhandler on Broadway between 13th and 14th Sts. Much to my despair, at around 8 a.m., they started to set up a street festival on Broadway. Always a bad day for people who live off the kindness of others.

People with hands full of money walked down the middle of the street going from vendor to vendor, spending money on overpriced merchandise and food. They see me on the sidewalk with my sign and empty cup. But they almost never take time off their course to help.

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators timed it perfectly. Around noon, things were in full swing for the vendors. A police van flew up Broadway northbound toward Union Square Park, causing fairgoers to grip their money and run. I looked up to see a hundred or more protesters at the intersection of Broadway and 14th St. in front of the park, yelling, “Shame on you!”

Then started the worst police brutality I’ve ever seen in person. One in five New Yorkers live in poverty. Four in five New Yorkers can care less. So Bloomberg’s Army made more than 80 arrests. “Courtesy — Professionalism — Respect,” painted on the sides of police cars, went out the window. They were barricading people and spraying them like bugs, once again sweeping the poor under the carpet and coddling the rich.

The rich people are not the enemy. But they need to let some love in their heart and give back once in a while. Peace and love.

Paul Santo

Full-service hospital, not lip service

To The Editor:

Re “Rudin moving forward on St. V’s redevelopment despite opposition” (news article, Sept. 22):

I am not a “partisan” of Yetta Kurland, as you allege. I am a passionate advocate for the restoration of a full-service hospital in the West Village to replace the life-saving medical services no longer available to more than 1 million people since the closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital.

I am so glad that John Gilbert, C.E.O. of the Rudin Organization, admits the reality that “people want another full-service hospital.” What a relief. I thought those guys had lost their minds. I strongly beg to differ with him when he said, “We all know that there is nobody out there to run one.”  I ask, “Who all?” Of course, a new full-service hospital can be set up to replace the bankrupt St. Vincent’s. A football or baseball team doesn’t shut down and pave over the stadium when the manager proves incompetent and inept and runs the team into the ground; they just get a new, smarter better manager! 

I am deeply offended and disgusted that Mr. Gilbert has the audacity to say, in support of replacing a hospital, which has saved lives for more than 150 years, that by putting in luxury apartments — which will make him and his organization close to or more than $1 billion — that the city and state can now collect property taxes. That sure makes me feel a lot safer, knowing that while firefighters, police officers, myself and anyone from W. 60th St. to the Battery with an emergency will have to take an ambulance crosstown in traffic to an emergency room on First Ave., meanwhile New York City and New York State will be collecting property taxes on the apartments on Seventh Ave. and 12th St., to presumably serve the taxpayers.

Elizabeth Ryan

More preservation points

To The Editor:

Re “City Council, Chin pull the plug on Bowery old-timer” (news article, Sept. 22):

Thank you for your article on the recent overturn of the decision to render 135 Bowery a New York City landmark. While the article covered the general topic well, it missed several points that are crucial to understanding the larger implications surrounding this decision.

First, Councilmember Dennis Halloran of District 19 in Queens announced at the beginning of the meeting that until the L.P.C. visited and landmarked his district, he would (and did, in the meeting) deny any application for landmark status in New York City under any circumstances. This serves no purpose to anyone. Should an elected councilmember be able to foist his personal vendetta into the democratic process?

Second, no one ever mentioned how the presence of a mediocre nine-story tower will impact of the block’s masterpiece — the Bowery Savings Bank designed by McKim, Mead & White. The whole block’s entire architectural integrity will be irrevocably altered by the presence of this tall new construction.

Finally, the Council accepted the decision of the owners’ “historical advisory team” of architects that because the house had been “substantially altered” and its interiors “gutted” that it was not fit for designation. Some of America’s most important historical monuments have been substantially altered, some beyond recognition. Our own Merchant’s House Museum, at 29 E. Fourth St., a New York City and national landmark has had elevators, dumbwaiters, stoves and bathrooms installed and removed during the building’s 175-plus year history. We have had exterior buildings demolished, and the rear “tea room” of the house removed and restored at great expense. As we complete a multiyear restoration of the house, we discover further alterations and additions on a weekly basis. Does that render our building less important? No. It makes the building more important historically.

By the determination of the owner’s advisers, it should be no problem to raze the White House, since the original interiors were completely destroyed by the British in 1812, and substantial reconstructions and alterations occurred in the 1850s, after the Civil War, in the 1880s, after 1910, and in the 1950s when the remaining historic interiors were gutted by Harry Truman in order to replace the original wood structure with steel, and to add a second story “front porch” to the family quarters, which mars the facade of the White House to this day.

Might the owner try to build his bank at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. instead?

Nicholas B.A. Nicholson

Nicholson is chairperson, Merchant’s House Museum

Failing marks for Cooper

To The Editor:

Re “St. Mark’s Bookshop, Cooper Union bound together in rent talks” (news article, Sept. 22):

How sad it was to realize a few years ago that The Cooper Union, beloved and revered neighborhood institution, was morphing into something unrecognizable to its longtime supporters.

When they unveiled their large-scale development plan in 2001 — which Joe Rose, then with City Planning, called “a shell game” — they were pleading poverty due to the tech bubble debacle. They had lost big and they were going to recoup first by leasing the parking lot site they owned for a condo and then by replacing their old Engineering Building at 51 Astor Place with a commercial office building.

How, one might ask, does that help their bottom line? Well, Cooper Union has a unique advantage over other academic institutions, including City University. By a longstanding agreement, much of the school’s endowment has come from the land under the Chrysler Building: They get from the leaseholder the real estate taxes that would ordinarily go to the city. When in 1960 some legislators tried to change this arrangement, Cooper Union promised from that time forward it would pay the real estate taxes on all commercial property it acquired.

Well, it just so happens that the parking lot and the Engineering Building land were acquired before that date, so instead of the city getting the taxes from the glass tower leaseholder on Astor Place and the soon-to-be-built office tower, Cooper Union will get “real estate equivalency” payments from both.

I give this back story to highlight how truly despicable it is that an institution which gets so much from this city and — considering we are talking tax dollars — from its residents, should show no generosity to another longtime beloved and now endangered institution. For Cooper Union to be driving the St. Mark’s Bookshop out of business when this school is the recipient of so much largesse seems contrary to both the letter and spirit of what Peter Cooper had in mind and heart when he founded the institution.

Cooper Union seems intent on making up for past mistakes on the backs of this community’s residents. We do not begrudge Cooper Union’s 900 students their free education, but someone needs to acknowledge that this community is paying a big part of it. So this is the moment to take a stand and get Cooper Union to relent, at least until the economy improves. So go to the store and buy a book, sign a petition and, if you are a graduate, call the school and take a stand to help save the St. Mark’s Bookshop.

Marilyn Appleberg

Appleberg is president, 10th and Stuyvesant Sts. Block Association

Rat solution in the hole

To The Editor:

Re “Dog run manager fears rat disease could kill canines” (news article, Sept. 15):

The Tompkins Square Park & Playgrounds Parents’ Association (TSP3A) was delighted to learn that the Parks Department has “reversed its policy” and began placing poison directly into rat holes in Tompkins Square Park in mid-September. We have been informed that this will be done every week until our rat problem is fully resolved. 

TSP3A has always pushed for a “shock and awe” campaign against the rats, and the poisoning, coupled with the simultaneous installation of dozens of new rat traps, the near-daily destruction of new rat holes, tunnels and dens, the elimination of shrubbery that conceals rat dens and the utilization of rat-proof garbage cans and our 10,000 donated mint-flavored, rat-repellent garbage bags throughout the park get us pretty close to that goal.

Unfortunately, because we are fighting an infestation, we have been told it will take about six months before the rats are eliminated to the fullest extent possible. As they say, “patience is a virtue,” so we will keep a close eye on the ongoing efforts, turn up the pressure again if necessary, and anxiously await the spring.

Chad Marlow

Marlow is founder, Tompkins Square Park & Playgrounds Parents’ Association (TSP3A)

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