Letters this week: December 14 – 20, 2011

B.I.D. is best solution for SoHo

To the editor,
Re: SoHo B.I.D. needs work (Downtown Express editorial, Nov. 9)

I am a property owner and full-time resident of SoHo who lives with my husband and three small children in a cooperative building within the B.I.D. area. It is a very busy block of Broadway. I am also the president of our co-op board. I personally experience the negative quality-of-life issues that have come with the commercial activity along Broadway: Filthy streets and overflowing trash bins, wall-to-wall street vendors, food trucks with objectionable smells and lines that block foot traffic, along with roving gangs of merchandise vendors that fight for turf — not to mention the throngs of people who visit SoHo each and every day.  It is a real obstacle course for me to negotiate with my four-year-old twins and a newborn in a stroller.

Over the past year, I have followed the spirited discussions between the SoHo Alliance and the supporters of the Broadway SoHo B.I.D. with great interest. In the past, I have often aligned myself with the SoHo Alliance, joining in their fights against various enterprises such as the Trump SoHo, the Crosby Street Bull Bar, and the Hotel Mondrian. With this latest campaign, I did not do my own research and simply towed the Alliance’s anti-BID line.  But then, I attended a meeting with organizers of the B.I.D., and I found myself being won over. They listened to the concerns of the opposition; and enhanced and clarified the language of the proposal to include a mission statement that was created by one of my neighbors, which gave a much stronger voice to residents of the B.I.D. They were more than accommodating, and seemed eager to collaborate, even asking those present to join and help shape the B.I.D.

So, while I am often a strong supporter of many of the SoHo Alliance’s positions, such as preventing the spread of national retail-chains to other parts of SoHo and championing the rights of the artists who have lived here for the past 40 years, I don’t agree with their fears that a B.I.D. is the end of SoHo as we know it.  This B.I.D. is restricted to the Broadway corridor only, its plan truly reflects the problems we face, and I believe it is the best and only workable solution. A formal organization needs to be created and funded to address these specific Broadway issues — which are quite different than the rest of SoHo — and like most B.I.D.s, should be funded by the commercial property owners. No volunteer organization can have the resources and professional knowledge required to deal with these issues on a day-to-day basis, year after year. A B.I.D., with its partnership with the City, can assess and compel payment by all commercial property owners within the B.I.D. area in a fair manner.

I fully understand that the BI.D. is a collaborative effort of many interests that may not always align with specific goals of residents; however, I believe that there is more than enough shared interest between the commercial property owners and the residents to make this B.I.D. a very good thing for the residents that live on the Broadway corridor.
Emily Hellstrom
Broadway SoHo B.I.D. District Resident Owner 

System doesn’t serve us

To the editor:
Re “Mic check! Occupy is now part of the popular culture” (news article, Dec. 7):

The issue the Occupy Wall Street movement takes with the idea of “legitimate means” is that whatever you classify those as, they are no longer an option to a majority of citizens. Corporate interests and political in-crowds have essentially formed a closed loop of politicians and the wealthy, who can operate however they like without concern for outside influences.

O.W.S. is about a lot of things, including a lot of ridiculous crap that is being tacked on. But if there can be one general overarching idea, it’s that the political system in America right now doesn’t serve people as a consequence of what the majority decides. This isn’t nihilistic — if anything, it’s optimistic for thinking that a protest could advance political discourse significantly enough to change this problem (and I personally am not entirely convinced by that opinion).

Michele Bachmann is a mostly contradictory, self-serving politician who operates under that same sphere of influence that can continue to work without needing the approval of the masses. Whatever opposition she has to O.W.S. comes because she’s worried about what they might accomplish, if anything. If she thought they were pointless, she wouldn’t bother addressing them. That’s logically the job of a campaigning politician: to prioritize. The caveat here is that if she were simply attacking them baselessly despite their lacking any genuine sway, she’d be an idiot.
Adam Devlin

Letters policy
Downtown Express welcomes letters to The Editor. They must include the writer’s first and last name, a phone number for confirmation purposes only, and any affiliation that relates directly to the letter’s subject matter. Letters should be less than 300 words. Downtown Express reserves the right to edit letters for space, clarity, civility or libel reasons. Letters should be e-mailed to news@DowntownExpress.com or can be mailed to 511 Canal St., N.Y., N.Y. 10013.