Letters to the Editor

A Trojan horse

To the Editor,

There’s a Trojan horse rolling through Southbridge Towers, making a stop at the DHCR, and even the Downtown Express. It’s been sent by a handful of vanquished former board members, with the assistance of their largely uninformed and self-defeating enablers.

It comes in the form of an orchestrated attack on Southbridge’s current board, ostensibly over the garage contract with Icon. The real, unnamed, target is privatization. The goal is to attempt to sow mistrust of Southbridge’s board, a board that was elected to facilitate privatization, in addition to the normal obligations of running a large apartment complex. The strategy is to attempt to discredit the board, thereby indirectly discrediting the move toward privatization.

Chelnik Parking, the operator of the garage for 40-plus years, totally neglected essential maintenance, resulting in millions of dollars of expense to restore the garage to safe usability. This deterioration of the facility occurred under the “watchful” eyes and supervision of our previous boards. Ironically, the leaders of previous Southbridge boards are spearheading opposition to the new garage contract.

The garage produces revenue for Southbridge, more than a million dollars a year currently, and incrementally rising, under the contract with Icon. Absent this revenue, maintenance would increase for everybody at Southbridge, those with cars and without. Icon is midway through the garage repairs at this point, spending millions of their own dollars in the process.

So what is the complaint? For a resident with one car, the rate rises from $68.12 to $98.12 a month — after many years without any increase. The rates go up somewhat more for a second car, but are still a fraction of the outside rates. Unfortunately, future new parkers must join a waiting list for discounted parking. Southbridge has about 1,650 apartments; the garage has 661 permissible spaces under the city’s Buildings Department Certificate of Occupancy. Presently there are 776 discounted cars in the garage and the settlement permits all of them to remain there.

Should the protesters succeed in convincing the DHCR to disapprove the garage contract, we can look forward to the prospect of expensive litigation with Icon, the possibility that garage repairs will slow or be suspended; and last but not least, maintenance increases for all.

Jesse Mandel

Think about motorists

To the Editor,

I read your editorial regarding bike lanes being a good thing. You are right, but…

The motorists who pay very high registration fees must have insurance, which is also usually very high; must have cars inspected at a cost; and must obey traffic signals and signs or else be ticketed.

None of the above applies to the owners of bikes.

It would be great if Ms. Sadik Kahn designated some streets and some avenues for bikes, and not every street, avenue and nook and cranny.

Is the new way ‘darn, the motorist,” even though we pay, pay and pay?

Shirley Espriel

No more studies

To the Editor,

Murry Bergtraum High School is an excessively large, under-performing school.

I attended a Community Board 1 meeting on Tuesday, September 21, 2010 to hear a discussion hosted by Ann De Falco and Paul Hovitz with regard to the after-school, violent behavior of the students of Murry Bergtraum High School in the community and particularly at Southbridge Towers.

The new “Executive” Principal Andrea Lewis, as well as the High School Superintendent Elaine Gorman described how they hope to study the after-school behavior of 2445 students, who are released in two shifts in the afternoon.

At this point, I don’t think we need more studies; we need remedies, such as:

1. Staggered dismissals – I attended Forest Hills High School in my senior year and the senior hours were 7:30 a.m. – noon. Forest Hills H.S. has a graduation rate of 82.9 percent and 3,825 students, compared to Murry Bergtraum’s rate of 69 percent for 2,445 students.

2. A co-op work program – The Downtown Alliance is sponsored by many downtown landmark businesses. I’m sure Elizabeth Berger who is the president, would be helpful in setting up an after-school work/study program to harness all of this mis-spent energy.

3.Geoffrey Canada – Mr. Canada has been instrumental in establishing a 96-block cradle-to-career education and social services network in Harlem. “The Harlem Children’s Zone” is going to be replicated in 20 communities nationwide. Federal monies are available for this program. Mr. Canada should be consulted on how to restructure Bergtraum.

4. Filming – And finally, many residents have approached me about circulating a petition to divide the high school into 4 Charter Schools. I believe it is a good idea but will take too long.  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, local residents should video-tape the altercations and email them to 311/NYC.gov. or to the local television channels.

Although, I’m at work when swarms of Bergtraum students take over the sidewalks and grounds of SBT, my grand daughter and her babysitter are often on the grounds when these fights are breaking out.  I am concerned for their safety, as well as for the other residents who are in their path.  


Robin A. Warshay

Member, Board of Directors, Southbridge Towers