Letters to The Editor, Week of Sept. 29, 2016


Soho’s fragile ecosystem

To The Editor:

Re “Artists fear brush-off, loss of protections in Soho zoning study” (news article, Sept. 15):

Soho zoning is like a delicate ecosystem. One small change has large ramifications. The city has already made large changes to the zoning by allowing new residential development on all of Soho’s parking lots.

There are still many artists in Soho; many are tenants who may lose important protection if the area’s zoning is altered. I fear that tampering with the artist-certification residency requirement is really a smokescreen to change other aspects of the zoning. That could seriously impact the essential nature of the historic district and the quality of life for residents who live and work here.

Artists are manufacturers and the Soho “M” zoning needs to stay in all aspects. Changes in allowable “use” under the zoning would alter the community’s special nature. Instead we would get homogenous development, which could include more chain stores, bars, restaurants and nightlife.

It is unfortunate that we are represented in the City Council by Margaret Chin, who continues to support policies that have been consistently rejected by the Soho community.

Susan Fortgang


Get ready to riot?

To The Editor:

American citizens should be aware that there is a very real civil war going on in this country and Donald Trump is creating the environment for it to get much worse. Believe me, if he gets elected we will see massive protests in Washington, D.C., with conflict not seen since Dr. King was marching in Selma and giving his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington.

I predict that if Trump is elected his inauguration will turn into a riot. I was one of the anti-Trump protest organizers in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention. Very few protesters showed up there because, at that time, not many Americans actually believed he had any chance of getting elected. Now, it looks like he is in the running because of multiple problems with the Clinton campaign and WikiLeaks leaks.

If Trump is elected, I believe Washington, D.C., officials will have to call out the National Guard on a regular basis to the D.C. metro area because it will be repeatedly shut down by anti-Trump protesters the entire time Trump remains in office.

John Penley


Pols must represent us

To The Editor:

Re “Niou tops Silver’s pick Cancel as Glick romps” (news article, Sept. 15):

Yuh-Line Niou’s recent primary victory is a glimmer of hope for residents of state Assembly District 65, long represented by Sheldon Silver.

While the disgraced Assembly speaker did some good work, such as advocacy for tenants in rental housing, his conservatism on issues like women’s reproductive rights was unrepresentative of his constituents.

Silver’s handpicked successor, Alice Cancel, was unknown to most in the district. She was  selected to run in last spring’s special election by a small group of Downtown Democratic party insiders. Niou mounted a terrific challenge in that race, but was battling from the Working Families Party line, and was overwhelmed by voters ticking the Democratic Party box, urged on by local officials, such as City Councilmember Margaret Chin. But in September, Cancel came in fourth in a field of six. By then, she had been abandoned by Chin, who had shifted allegiance to Gigi Li, who was dogged by a petition-gathering scandal.

It was an ugly race. I don’t know who sent out the nasty anti-Niou flier a neighbor got in the mail — from the type of political night crawlers who don’t identify themselves — but the neighbor had the brains to see through it. My wife and I received an equally ugly mailing about Paul Newell, another candidate in the race — and as I write this, on Sept. 23, another of those has just appeared in my mailbox. Perhaps the perpetrators of those Nixonian screeds will be identified over time.

Meanwhile, Chin has proved no friend to the people of her district. Of the many examples, I will highlight just two. The first is 135 Bowery St., a beautiful 200-year-old building that had been approved for landmark designation by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. It could have been repurposed as a boutique or other high-end business in this rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. But at Chin’s urging, it was demolished in order to please a Chinese bank with a bogus American name. Supposedly, the new building would offer low-rent space for small local Chinese businesses. But a quick check on real estate Web sites, or merely a walk past the new 135 Bowery, reveals that the space inside is being rented at market rates. Or would be: Most of the windows remain dark.

The second example is the Elizabeth St. Garden, a city-owned lot, on which Chin and Mayor Bill de Blasio wish to build affordable housing. But neighborhood residents fervently wish to preserve this as a rare oasis of green in a vast swath of Lower Manhattan otherwise bereft of free recreational space and oxygen-rich trees and bushes. We need fresh air!

As usual, the other city councilmembers likely will bow to Chin’s wishes on this one — just as they did on 135 Bowery. Again, it’s “Merits be damned, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” This type of crony politics should have gone extinct long ago.

At least we’re rid of Silver, and here’s to Yuh-Line Niou, with high expectations for our future in Albany. It’s great to see a number of highly qualified, energetic, young political figures rising in the area. Here’s hoping they don’t fall into the grip of the ossified, counterproductive local party establishment, who have cost us so much in the way of representation.

Elliot Hurwitt


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