Letters to the Editor

City can do more on Seward sites

To The Editor:

SPARC welcomes the city’s preliminary proposal to build affordable housing and appropriate commercial uses on the long-dormant Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. City officials’ Nov. 16, 2003, presentation to Community Board 3 demonstrated a good-faith effort to create a mixed-use community on this site.

However, we believe that the 400 units of mixed-income housing they proposed is simply not enough, given the history of displacement, the gentrification in the surrounding areas and the continued loss of rental housing in our community, not to mention the city as a whole. We want to see more affordable housing built, especially on the central parcels of the site, and know full well that this can be accomplished. We believe that the area can support a marked increase, perhaps as much as double the amount, and that it would go a long way toward redressing a grave civic error that allowed housing and stores to be destroyed and valuable land to lie fallow for nearly 40 years.

SPARC is committed to working with the city and C.B. 3 to ensure that there is a community-wide planning process with a goal of equitable housing development. In this way we will improve the quality of life for the wider Lower East Side community and meet our basic and important housing, compatible-retail, parking and neighborhood-facility needs.

Harriet Cohen

Cohen is chairperson, SPARC (Seward Park Area Redevelopment Coalition)

Property values vs. human values

To The Editor:

I am writing in response to the deluge of letters in your paper and in my neighborhood about potentially forthcoming low- and middle-income housing on the Lower East Side. I want to insist that plenty of people in this community support this proposal, and I am one of them.

I am embarrassed and ashamed that my own neighbors have the audacity to speak out against desperately needed housing because they are concerned only for their “property values.” Where is the humanity in such concerns? In the face of our city’s economic recession, making a comfortable living and obtaining suitable housing is more of a feat than ever. Lack of affordable housing is causing countless people to live in uncomfortable, overcrowded conditions, shelters or in the streets.

Of course we want to protect our monetary investments, but how dare we worry about our property values at the expense of human beings? Have we forgotten that just a few years ago, Seward Park itself was a middle-income development? Have we now become so classist as to thumb our nose at the very thought of other middle/low-income housing in our neighborhood? After all, unfairly assuming that neighbors in low-income housing would have a detrimental effect on the community is both racist and classist.

People with lower incomes who were born and raised in New York City are suffering, and affordable housing can help them. Whether it is located in Brooklyn or right next door to where my family and I reside, such housing must continue to be built. Because I am indeed my brother’s keeper, I must commend the city personnel that are moving forward with solutions, finding more constructive uses for underutilized real estate and trying to help the people of our city.

Please understand that not everyone in the Seward Park area is heartless and selfish. Some of us recognize that because we are blessed enough to have what we do have, we must always try to give to others, as well.

Lisa Adams

Lopez’s pockets not that deep

To The Editor:

Re The Dec. 24 article on City Councilwoman Margarita Lopez, your headline says, “Lopez gives $500,000 for Wash. Sq.,” and the jump-page headline echoes, “Lopez funds Wash. Sq. project.”

One has to read deep into the article to learn that the money she “gives” is in fact not hers. Nowhere do you report the fact that these are taxpayer dollars taken from the Council’s obviously substantial slush fund. (It’s a very minor credit to you that you mention, albeit vaguely and without further explanation, that the money comes from “a government source.” You do not note that this money is taken from the strapped city treasury, which is to say that it comes from the city’s 18-percent property tax increase.)

Elsewhere in the same issue, you announce that Congressman Jerrold Nadler has allocated $7 million in federal tax dollars to pay for several other pork-barrel projects. In contrast to the news item about Ms. Lopez, you make it clear that Mr. Nadler’s considerable largesse comes at the expense of the taxpayers.

You (and the rest of the media) should apply the same standard to politicians at all levels who dole out tax dollars. The source of Ms. Lopez’s generosity should be made as explicit as Mr. Nadler’s, because no matter how it’s spun, in the end it comes out of the wallets of each of us. It’s not they who “give” the money.

Bob Keefe

Maloney takes charge at W.T.C.

To The Editor:

I was astonished and dismayed by the contents of Josh Rogers’ article, “Nadler angered by Maloney World Trade Center bill” (Dec. 10).

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, along with Rep. Christopher Shays (Conn.), deserves credit for assuming a leadership role on key issues surrounding the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. Both have offered their support in the struggle to remove the still-very-much-enjoyed immunities to New York City Building and Fire Codes of the Port Authority in the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site, an issue which should be of grave concern to all residents of the Downtown area and future occupants and visitors of the new World Trade Center.

These two outspoken representatives have also stepped up to assume the leadership role with respect to the future of Ground Zero and the creation of a proper memorial site. Kudos to them! Who among us has any real trust in the L.M.D.C. or the P.A. to conduct a proper assessment of the site’s remaining historic relics? Too much self-serving interest here!

Rather than continued politicizing, district squabbles and bowing to economic pressures to rebuild, all our elected officials should be focusing on what impact and message the future site will have 15, 20, 100 years from now, when 9/11 becomes no more than a chapter in the history books. How will future generations view how we handled this process and the speed with which we want to shovel dirt and grass on the site of the murder of thousands? Will we be accused of a lack of understanding and acceptance of the tragedy, which took almost 3,000 lives, left families devastated and citizens shocked? Studies conducted in conjunction with the rebuilding and memorial process can and will only enhance our ability in making wise decisions, which will have permanent consequences. To slow this process is only logical, as emotions are still too high and rational thinking is hampered.

As for Ms. Wils, she seems to have been asleep on 9/11/01. Like it or not, Ground Zero and the immediate Downtown area is a burial ground. She may want to ask Lee Ielpi or Jack Lynch to view the map depicting where remains were uncovered. Almost 3,000 innocent souls were either blown to bits or crushed to death at this site. No matter how she may want to spin her vision, that is a fact. It is high time we started treating this plot of ground with some respect.

Economic factors were the driving force creating the first World Trade Center and look what happened! It is high time we came together as a people and changed some of our most basic thinking. The value of life and the respect for the dead should be the driving force behind this project; and all elected officials, in or out of the district, should be on board with that!

Monica Gabrielle

Gabrielle is co-chairperson, The Skyscraper Safety Campaign

Only showed one side of wall

To The Editor:

I was disturbed and disappointed by your photo article dealing with the security wall in the West Bank of Israel (Dec. 24).

I found it to be a blatant, one-sided attack on Israel’s restrained and valiant efforts to defend itself in the face of vicious, barbaric suicide bombings. Under the seemingly innocuous title, “Local photographer hits the wall in the West Bank” — a matter-of-fact description of the construction of the security wall — it then goes on to quote “the international community,” whose blind hatred of Israel is a constant. The photographer goes on to tell of the plight of the poor Arabs who are being inconvenienced by the wall. He adds that this wall is an obstacle to peace and in an obvious attempt to gain sympathy, shows children playing.

Yet it is children like these who are taught daily in their schools to hate Israel and to kill Jews; many are encouraged to become terrorists and suicide bombers.

Nowhere do you show or even refer to the countless victims of the suicide bombers and the death and destruction they cause.

Where is there any semblance of balance or fairness? Would America sit still if we were being constantly attacked from Mexico or Canada? You can be sure that we would do far more than build a security fence — to keep the killers out.

Herbert Latner

Oh yeah, that other newspaper

To The Editor:

In the photo caption, “White nights on Astor Pl.” (Dec. 17), you referred to the 2003 contributors to this year’s display of holiday lights at the Astor Pl. triangle, but unfortunately you neglected to mention The Village Voice, which along with Chipotle, made it all possible.

Honi Klein

Klein is executive director, Village Alliance business improvement district