Letters to the Editor

Open Cortlandt

To The Editor:

The New York Metro Chapter of the American Planning Association, representing over 1,200 planning professionals working in the New York area, has consistently advocated for the creation of a well-designed network of streets in Lower Manhattan in rebuilding the World Trade Center site. We believe that good planning and economic growth of the area require an integrated pedestrian network that provides sidewalk retail uses, maximizes visual links from east to west and to the memorial, and reintegrates streets with transportation facilities.

The current proposal by the Port Authority for Cortlandt St. creates a glass three-story retail galleria with internal bridges that, we believe, is contrary to the World Trade Center master plan, which encouraged accessible, vibrant streets with diverse economic, physical and social activities (news article, Jan. 6 – 12, “Port, city do retail politics in retail dispute”). Although the proposed design of Cortlandt St. is allegedly based upon retail and security concerns, we believe that closing the street to all vehicular traffic is, a simplistic — and ultimately ineffective — means to achieve true urban security. Increase pedestrian and vehicular traffic, increased street activity, and extensive ground floor uses would more effectively promote street safety.

We are also concerned that the placement of an escalator enclosed in a retail mall, sitting in the middle of the streetbed would effectively foreclose all potential for reopening the street to the public later, when security concerns have lessened and/or more advanced security techniques become available.

A new Cortlandt St., open to the sky and linked with the rest of the street network, can be planned and built to be compatible with security needs. As we proceed with the rebuilding of this key area of New York City, we should encourage good planning, economic vitality and physical flexibility by making Cortlandt St. open and public, a corridor that can serve pedestrians only or both vehicles and pedestrians in the future. New York Metro Chapter reiterates its long-held position that the Lower Manhattan street grid should be extended through this former super block.

Ethel Sheffer

President of the American Planning Association’s New York chapter

Quinn machine

To The Editor:

“Quinn win hailed by gays, Downtowners” by Lincoln Anderson and Andy Humm (news article, Jan. 6-12) was interesting, but could have dug deeper.  New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has removed the veil of her Manhattan liberal independent reformer image to reveal that she is a seasoned Democratic party machine leader.  She follows in the fine tradition of her predecessors, former Council Speakers Gifford Miller, Peter Vallone and the late Tom Cuite of Brooklyn.  She has already committed to overturn the voters wishes by considering legislation to repeal term limits.  Just watch on Jan. 18 when Speaker Quinn announces her appointments to various Council committee chairs.  Councilmembers who are loyal to their respective county organizations (the ones that endorsed her candidacy for speaker) will be rewarded with salary increases known as lulus ranging from $4,000 to $28,000 to chair Council committees.  The average salary for a New Yorker is $41,000 per year.  Every councilmember has a base salary of $91,000 plus bonuses for a part time job.  Under Speaker Quinn’s reign, it will be the usual political quid pro quo.  Vote as instructed by the speaker and members will continue to receive the perks of office.  Be an independent member and vote to represent the citizens and suffer the consequences.  Everyone knows the fix is in. 

Remember the proposal to spend over $1 billion in city and state dollars to support construction of a new Manhattan Westside Stadium for the Jets which was defeated last year?  Councilmember Quinn was an early and leading opponent of this project, including the wasteful spending of taxpayers dollars as corporate welfare to help the Jets owners pay for their new stadium.  Contrast this with Queens N.Y.C. Council Finance Committee chairperson and defeated candidate for speaker — Councilmember Weprin. Never shy around a camera or microphone, I couldn’t help but notice the smiling face of Councilmember Weprin close by Council Speaker Quinn on numerous occasions since her election on January 4.  His consolation prize is another four year term as Council Finance Committee Chairperson. 

The five county Democratic political bosses don’t care if you are liberal or conservative, gay or straight, man or woman — just play ball like Speaker Quinn and you’re welcome to the smoke-filled clubhouse back rooms! 

Larry Penner

Great Neck, New York

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