Letters to the Editor

Stop Plan Now

To The Editor:

Re “N.Y.U. shifts public school, hotel in latest design” (news article, March 23):

We seem to have learned nothing — nothing — from the disasters in Japan and elsewhere.

In its master plan to completely dominate and obliterate a neighborhood and its institutions, New York University continues to demonstrate no regard for issues of light, air, shadow, historic gardens, density and overbuilding.

In what act of aggrandizement does N.Y.U. have the right to run over and bulldoze all the other institutions that are rooted here? The Department of Transportation strips are emphatically public space, a legacy of Jane Jacobs’s crucial battle. These D.O.T. strips belong to the public, are heavily used and enjoyed by the public, and should not be sold off cavalierly to satisfy N.Y.U.’s pathological sense of entitlement.

Nor should this neighborhood be rezoned for commercial use. This is a residential neighborhood, and we must strongly object to giving N.Y.U. carte blanche to build whatever and whenever it wants. It’s like giving a child with no boundaries a set of matches to play with.

Let’s learn something from the disasters around us and stop this plan now.

Rhoma Mostel

Keep the stairs

To the Editor:

I recently had the privilege of attending a reception in honor of Kenneth Feinberg. Mr. Feinberg was the Special Master, September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. He spoke movingly of some of the victims’ survivors he met with as Master of the Fund. The stories were, of course, heartbreaking. 

My husband and I have lived at Gateway Plaza since 1982, and as Mr. Feinberg was speaking I was taken back to that horrible day. For those of us who lived and/or worked in Battery Park City and were lucky not to have lost family members or friends it was still a harrowing experience. 

People who moved into the neighborhood or started working here afterwards have no idea of how this neighborhood was affected or the emotional nightmare we went through. There were many months following 9/11 when this area was an armed camp, with the U.S. military and the National Guard patrolling. Access to the neighborhood was restricted. There was a tremendous clean-up operation to clear out the debris resulting from the towers coming down. Emergency electric lines were installed. Most of the stores on South End Avenue were closed for a long period of time. People who lived in the Gateway Plaza complex were not allowed back into their apartments for up to 3 ½ months as the buildings were repaired and cleaned.

The Winter Garden and the attendant staircase was severely damaged but was rebuilt and reopened the following September, with President Bush attending the reopening ceremony. 

I have spoken to many people the past several weeks about saving the stairs, and there is definitely a dichotomy between the people who went through 9/11 here and the people who did not. Most of the people who came in afterwards have no idea about the emotional value of the stairs and one cannot fault them. You cannot appreciate the value of something if you do not know its history.

In retrospect, there should have been a plaque in the Winter Garden describing what happened on 9/11 and how it was rebuilt afterwards.

Keeping the stairs will not bring back those people who were murdered, it will not make healthy those people who were injured and maimed, it will not grant a longer life to those who breathed in the toxic fumes, it will not remove the pain from those who lost loved ones and friends.

However, keeping the stairs is of symbolic value — we can rebound, we can continue, we will not let those who mean us harm to change us.

The stairs are a sign of renewal and possibility.

Thank you,

Marilyn R. Masaryk