Letters to the Editor

Hospital should have told us


To The Editor:

Re “Hospital deserves a bailout, like banks, many say at rally” (news article, Feb. 3):

It is now abundantly clear, given the events of the past two weeks, why St. Vincent’s did not pursue a financial hardship with the Landmarks Preservation Commission in its case to demolish its O’Toole building, since going that route would have revealed the hospital’s dire financial situation and rendered its grand plan DOA. 

The fact St. Vincent’s pursued the O’Toole hardship rather than its true financial hardship was disingenuous on its part, since it never came clean about the fact that its plan was financially impossible and flawed. The hospital never wanted to open up its books to us, which would have revealed, early on, that it could not financially survive the process it undertook. Talk about bad faith — despite St. Vincent’s claim to have worked with the community.

The question is, if the electeds did not know this, why not, and if they did know, how could they have defended such an ambitious, yet financially impossible plan? Either way, they have not demonstrated leadership, especially at the outset, when there might have been time to craft a viable solution. Given their poor track record, lack of foresight and the possibility they withheld the facts along with Rudin and St. Vincent’s, we cannot afford to let our local politicians now hastily craft a survival plan without representative community involvement and input yet once again. They talk of involving all the stakeholders, but to date that has not included community members with their diversity of opinions and concerns.

Despite their statements to the contrary, St. Vincent’s and its real estate partner, Rudin, have heretofore only paid lip service to community involvement and input. Even their scaled-back plan ignored our alternative solutions. It is essential, in the face of the current circumstances, that we be involved and truly part of the process that finds a solution. We have always maintained that we want to see St. Vincent’s survive — but that it needs to do so as a respectful neighbor in the context of what is appropriate for the Greenwich Village Historic District if it wants to remain in the Village. Then and only then, instead of opposing St. Vincent’s plans, can we commit our time and talents in assisting it to continue on.

David R. Marcus

Marcus is vice president, The Cambridge Owners Corp.; founding member, Protect the Village Historic District; and a plaintiff in P.V.H.D.’s lawsuit against the Landmarks Preservation Commission and St. Vincent’s Hospital

St. Vincent’s plan was flawed

To The Editor:

Re “Hospital deserves a bailout, like banks, many say at rally” (news article, Feb. 3):

It appeared to me and and others in the Greenwich Village community that the initial Rudin/St. Vincent’s proposal to “save St. Vincents” not only violated the Landmarks Law, but was also seriously flawed. We believed that it was strictly a real estate deal with the sole beneficiary being the Rudin Organization. 

Furthemore, it seemed to us that St. Vincent’s did not have the financial resources, even with Rudin’s help, to construct a huge hospital building on the present O’Toole site. Moreover, it also seemed apparent that putting the new hospital on the limited space of the O’Toole property doomed it to obsolescence from from its inception.

Additionally, we argued that putting 400 luxury condos on the present hospital grounds would put a serious strain on the Village’s infrastructure, and particularly on its already overcrowded schools. Finally, the plan would have been the death knell of the Landmarks Law, and the protection it afforded Greenwich Village and other historic neighborhoods.

I personally wrote articles pointing out that if there was a need for a hospital to serve the entire West Side, from the Battery to 59th St., it was incumbent upon the city, state and federal governments to aid in the planning and financing of such a project. It was unfair for St. Vincent’s and the Village to bear the entire burden regarding that obligation.

Unfortunately, the same elected officials who are now howling for government intervention to “save St. Vincent’s” turned a deaf ear to legitimate community concerns, suggestions and pleas. In fact, instead of seriously vetting the Rudin/St. Vincent’s proposal, they accepted it hook, line and sinker. They proceeded to act out of political expediency. 

As bad as things are now, they could be worse. A number of us foresaw the possiblity that St. Vincent’s would demolish O’Toole and then run out of money. Under such circumstances, we feared we would be left with a huge crater on the corner of 13th St. and Seventh Ave. Another possible scenario that some of us envisioned was that the hospital would be built, and then St. Vincent’s would, for any number of reasons, be forced to sell the property for commercial purposes.

Weren’t our elected officials cognizant of those contingencies? 

The bottom line is that the elected officials we depend on to protect the interests of the ordinary citizen completely failed in their obligations to us, their constituents. Unfortunately, your paper, which is also supposed to act as a watchdog for the public’s interests, also sold us out by supporting the Rudin/St. Vincent’s plan. It truly is a sad case all around, and is a cautionary tale not to blindly accept every proposition by those who supposedly “know better.”

  Gary A. Tomei

Tomei is president, W. 13th St. 100 Block Association; and member, Protect the Village Historic District 

Cuts, closings everywhere

To The Editor:

Re Your entire Feb. 3 issue:

Bus cuts here in Lower Manhattan; St. Vincent’s Hospital may close; restaurants closing; Aphrodisia spice store closing, etc., etc. What’s going on?

Along with the cold weather, snow, ice, we have all this bad news? It’s enough to make a person feel very  depressed and discouraged.

I cannot conceive that the E.R. at St. Vincent’s would close down. Do you know that the E.R. at Gouverneur Hospital is not open at 3 a.m.? Where is a person to go for emergencies in the middle of the night?

Michael Gottlieb

Great writers, great paper!

To The Editor:

Re “Cabaret veteran Crane is a rare bird” (arts article, Jan. 27):

Given the extraordinarily generous space and newsprint you gave me via Stephen Wolf’s exquisitely written piece, I hesitated to take up more space. But, to quote Arthur Miller, “Attention must be paid.”

Friends and neighbors have universally applauded the author for sensitive and vivid writing. So here I am to thank you for having gifted writers like Stephen Wolf and Michele Herman contribute to the paper. 

I’ve been an always-interested Villager reader throughout my entire 42-year residency on W. 11th St. I’ve been proud to say it, and I tell my neighbors that they don’t know what’s going on here if they do not read The Villager. Thank you for it all.

One more thing. I was born in St. Vincent’s Hospital, as were my two fifth-generation New York grandsons. I am heartbroken about the imminent loss.

Cynthia Crane Story

Article captured Vermeersch

To The Editor:

Re “After 25 years, Vermeersch retires as music school head” (news article, Jan. 27):

From our first days in Detroit (we both had rooms in the same Cass Ave. house when I was at Monteith, he then deep into his master’s), through myriad ironic crisscrosses (Detroit, San Francisco, New York City, Santa Cruz), over the many years, B.C. has always been the guy who managed to suggest really profound new things to people around him, the polymathic imp who always connected the unlikely for his friends and enriched the lives of all he touched in the process. 

I relish this tribute, for how it captured a good part of who he really is — it could have been so dry!

Greenwich House was the perfect vantage point for him to work his magic, and what a legacy he leaves for the school and his community. I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do next.

Paul Hostetter

Get it right, comrade!

To The Editor:

“Bucks and benefit to Brûlée burlesque, Ray feels the love” (news article, Jan. 27):

On Sat., Jan. 23, Lincoln Anderson, while interviewing me, asked me about my political views. I stated that I’m a Marxist and a Trotskyist, an adherent to the ideas of Leon Trotsky. Lincoln used the term “Trotskyite” in his article. This is wrong, for many reasons, which would take too long to recite in this brief letter.

The short answer is that “Trotskyite” is what Stalin and the Communist Party called people in the C.L.A. (Communist League of America), later the Socialist Workers Party. As a matter of fact, it was an agent of Stalin, namely Ramon Mercader, who assassinated Trotsky in Mexico in 1940.

Karl Rosenstein


E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 145 Sixth Ave., ground floor, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.