Letters To The Editor, Week of Jan. 31, 2019

Politicians on open space

To The Editor:

In an age where science proves the necessity to humans of regular exposure to the natural world, we are about to lose the last of our ground-level open spaces in the latest land grab of the real estate frenzy of the past 20 years.

Proponents of the Elizabeth St. Garden want to sacrifice the water-tunnel site at Hudson at Clarkson Sts. to save their Little Italy garden. But on the West Side, we are also starved for open space and park space.

Well, as of now, both East and West Sides have lost since, behind closed doors, deals have already been made to develop both sites.

This was stated by Steve Simon, the Parks Department’s Manhattan chief of staff, at the August 2018 Community Board 2 Parks Committee meeting. Under this scenario, at the water-tunnel site, a new building would be developed on the lot’s northern portion, while the site’s southern portion, which cannot be developed to ensure access to the water tunnel, would be a park.

But this “park” would never have anything that grows since — hemmed in by buildings — it would be in a deep well, and so might get an hour of sunlight a day. The pitch to the public will be that it will be good for us since it includes senior affordable housing (that will revert to market value after the builders are through getting their tax breaks from the city). Everybody wins except the people who actually live here. Common sense would be to add the water-tunnel site, at least the north segment, to J.J. Walker Park.

There are other ways to create affordable and senior housing. Jumaane Williams, running for public advocate, stated in the Jan 10 edition of The Villager, “There are landlords who need to be in jail and their buildings taken from them.” Yes, since this policy could produce lower- and middle-income housing by creating co-ops/ Mitchell Lama, etc., from properties forfeited by chronically delinquent landlords. I don’t understand how anyone, Habitat for Humanity included (I have lost all respect for this organization), could believe that the loss of open space Downtown — where we have the least amount of open space per capita of any city district — isn’t a crime against the people who live here now and those who will live here in the future.

Our politicians, who we elected and pay to represent us, should be finding us more open space, not facilitating the selling off of what little is left. We need a moratorium on building on city-owned open space, and especially any space that has already successfully been developed into a community garden.

Any public servant who advocates the destruction of a beautiful, already created park such as the Elizabeth St. Garden, a gift to the people, is suspect. Our green spaces help us live in all this concrete and brick.

Going forward, do not vote for anyone currently in office unless they stand up now and stop this from happening. If they are not our heroes, they do not belong in office.

Lynn Pacifico
Pacifico is president, Dog Owners Action Committee (DOAC)


Pesin, Stein don’t get it

 To The Editor:

Re “Marcus doesn’t speak for us” (letter, by Elissa Stein and Judy Pesin, Jan. 24):

I was more than a bit surprised to see the Pesin/Stein letter pointing out that I was no longer a member of the Steering Committee of the 14th St. Coalition in response to my “Open Letter to Council Speaker Corey Johnson” (talking point, Jan. 14).

Nothing in my talking point suggested otherwise and their observation was misguided and gratuitous. I am, however, a founder of the 14th St. Coalition and, contrary to their assertion, am still one of the coalition’s many members. Under any set of circumstances, I am entitled to speak my mind — which, of course, I will continue to do.

It is exactly this focus on meaningless minutiae and the lack of concerted efforts by this self-indulged “leadership” group to strenuously and vocally advocate for changes to the L train traffic-mitigation plan (and under current circumstances, its entire elimination) that left me no choice but to step down from the Steering Committee of the group that I was instrumental in founding, so as to be able to speak out on my own.

What part of my letter do they disavow? My expression of disappointment or my request for advocacy to undo all of these mitigation changes that have been rendered moot by the sensible decision not to shut down the L train? If not this, what is their purpose, and why don’t they use their writing skills to push for the needed changes?

David Marcus


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2 Responses to Letters To The Editor, Week of Jan. 31, 2019

  1. Dear Editor,

    Michel Legrand, who died at age 86, now belongs to the ages.

    Among many other contributions, this French composer composed music for two of the movies of Jacques Demy, the first of which was The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

    Besides that, and Les Demoiselles de Rochfort, I will lovingly remember Monsieur Legrand for two other evenings.

    The first happened back a decade or so, when he gave a concert at New York's Hunter College auditorium where he as the pianist appeared supremely comfortable introducing his protégée, whose name might have been Mouskouri, although I don’t remember now if that was Nana M., or some other singer. Anyway, I got the impression then that M. Legrand and Ms. M. were both of Russian origin. (I see from Wikipedia that I was wrong.) It was a great night, with M. Legrand and Ms. M. performing superbly. The most interesting part, to me anyway, was at the end, when someone from the audience asked him to play the theme song from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Clearly a man who did not suffer fools gladly, including from the audience, Legrand visibly rolled his eyes upwards – in theatrical à la française – before proceeding to plunk out the theme song from the movie in most, if not all, ballroom (standard) dance music, including waltz, foxtrot, quickstep, tango, rumba, samba, and cha-cha-cha. Certainly, I was not the only delighted one. The second night was soon afterwards, when he appeared at the French Institute, a more formal venue. By then, I as seasoned audience member of recent vintage at a Legrand concert could see that this prickly diminutive genius cared nothing for any possibly stuffed shirts, vieux- or nouveau-riche, or fancy-schmancy occupants of FIAF’s Florence Gould Hall. Michel Legrand played his piano like one of the great unwashed, but one possessing a magnificent gift. And his gift seemed to amuse, as well as delight, himself as well. He was like a unique in-law– nutty but fun. Did I mention that the evening at Hunter College among the hoi polloi, when he had let his hair down, had proved the better of the two evenings? Still, both were very fine, indeed.

    Rest in peace, Monsieur Legrand.

    John F. Early

  2. A Mitcheltree, LCAT

    In 2013 nine acres of forested land including one hundred mature trees were given over from the city to the Technion Institute of Technology on Roosevelt Island. Dozens of those mature trees were destroyed. The forested land was demolished. In another incident, trees were cut down to make way for a Fashion Week event at Lincoln Center. Additionally, trees were cut down to create a flat lawn on Washington Square Park. And now a grassy park in Little Italy is up for destruction. While medical communities offer superior survival rates for cardiac conditions and for respiratory conditions, the city continues to engage in behavior which will surely induce stress related cardiac and respiratory failure. The benefits of time spent with trees, sunlight and grassy land are frank and obvious. The bosom of nature provides fresher cleaner air as well as delightful sights and sounds of park animals such as birds, squirrels, chipmunks, butterflies and the intense beauty of flowers, shrubbery, leaves and trees. All people benefit from the restful peace of nature's tranquility, most especially children. We citizens are going to have to turn off the advertisements of profiteers who would tell you that overcrowding is good for you. It's not. As your doctor, today, about the harmful effects of overcrowding. Stress is stressful. Tell your elected officials to stop destroying trees and grassy parkland,.

    Anne Mitcheltree, MA, LCAT

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