Letters, Week of Jan. 23, 2014 | East Villager & Lower East Sider

Letters, Week of Jan. 23, 2014

Talk about ironic!

To The Editor:
Am I the only one struck by the ironic juxtaposition of the Page One headline “Judge says city broke law when it OK’d N.Y.U. plan” (news article, Jan. 9) with a large photograph right beside it of Margaret Chin (a.k.a. “The Developers’ Friend,” and one of the main reasons the plan was approved by the City Council in the first place) grinning as she was sworn in for a second term?
As for the accompanying article on Chin (“Among powerful friends, Chin enters her second term”), the “powerful friends” listed in the piece didn’t include anyone from the construction industry — but I have no doubt they were in the background, high-fiving each other for getting their champion re-elected.

Lisa Ramaci


Hope Chin’s reading

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. now says it will appeal judge’s superblocks ruling” (news article, Jan. 16):
Thanks to The Villager and its editor for providing a forum for Downtown residents. One can only hope that Margaret Chin and her staff and advisers will be reading The Villager’s coverage of her positions and statements.

Minerva Durham



Chin has it in for us

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. now says it will appeal judge’s superblocks ruling” (news article, Jan. 16):

The following statement in the article is incorrect: “The Time Landscape is the long, fenced-in plot south of the LaGuardia Corner Gardens, and is intended to represent Manhattan’s pre-Colonial foliage in its natural state. However, N.Y.U. has never expressed any interest in using the Time Landscape for its development plans.”

New York University’s early plans showed retail stores in the Time Landscape section of LaGuardia Place and around the corner behind 505 LaGuardia Place. We objected to those plans.
Mrs. Chin’s support of N.Y.U.’s 2031 plans was a betrayal of our trust. She continually told us that she would “never” allow N.Y.U. to take our public lands. She lied to us.

And now, her continued defense of N.Y.U.’s 2031 plan — despite Community Board 2’s rejection of the plan and the continued opposition of neighborhood residents and N.Y.U. Faculty Against the Sexton Plan — illustrates her lack of interest in what our community needs. She represents N.Y.U. and not her constituents.

We appreciate Councilman Johnson’s and Borough President Brewer’s support.

The next step will be to sue to have the superblocks’ zoning change reversed.

Sylvia Rackow
Rackow is chairperson, The Committee to Preserve Our Neighborhood


Pavilion food for thought

To The Editor:
Re “Pavilion bistro lawsuit is back on the front burner” (news article, Jan. 16):

I would like to clarify something said in your article about the lawsuit involving the Union Square pavilion. The June court hearing was not before the Court of Appeals but before the Appellate Court, which meets in a beautiful building across from Madison Square Park. The Jan. 14 hearing before the Court of Appeals was in Albany, and I did not attend that one. Accordingly, all the comments about judges attributed to me relate to the Appellate judges — not to those members of the Court of Appeals.

Let me also take this occasion to remind readers of some of the background of the case. The structure in question was actually labeled the “Children’s Pavilion” on some early-20th-century maps and was used for recreation purposes in more recent years, despite the fact that the Parks Department allowed the building to deteriorate.

Unlike a similar structure in Columbus Park in Lower Manhattan, which has become a lively community center for people of all ages, the Parks Department seemed to want the Union Square pavilion to become a storage room.

Nevertheless, there are Village mothers who remember forming a playgroup and using the pavilion for kids’ activities. Today it would be a perfect adjunct to the adjacent playground — a sheltered recreation facility that could serve adults, as well.

The pavilion, of course, also played an important historical role in providing — literally — the platform for famous speakers, and for being the site of the first Labor Day Parade in 1882. That’s why it’s a National Historical Landmark, and that’s why we are fighting this alienation of our all-too-scarce parkland.

Carol Greitzer


Pharmacy switcheroo

To The Editor:
When I returned from my holiday on Jan. 4, I called Avignone to refill some prescriptions only to learn, via voice mail over the phone, that the pharmacy was “closed for business” and that I should contact the chain store pharmacy CVS, where my prescriptions had been transferred!

This came as a shock to me, as it did many others in my building and neighborhood in the West Village. I later learned from the owner of the store where Avignone pharmacy was located that the sale of the pharmacy business (its clients’ prescriptions) to CVS was not announced until a week before it closed.

The pharmacy owner, Andrew, must have signed some sort of confidentiality agreement with CVS, so longtime clients, like myself and my husband, were not forewarned. I assume it was done this way in order for CVS to obtain all the records of Avignone’s customers in the hopes that we would not go elsewhere and find another (smaller, more personal) pharmacy to fill our prescriptions.

I have since talked with many former customers of Avignone pharmacy, several of them while waiting in line along with them at CVS, and we are deeply upset and feel betrayed by Andrew. You would think that after years of handling people’s prescriptions (one woman I spoke with, now in her 80s, had been going there since she was a child living on MacDougal St.,) Andrew would have had the courtesy to at least whisper his intentions in our ears.

To just close his business without any forewarning is not only inconsiderate, impolite and rude, but it is infuriating. I’m not the only angry former customer. And no one I’ve spoken with wishes to go to CVS for their medications, including me and my husband.

So Andrew, I hope you got a big, fat payment from CVS for your betrayal of loyal customers. I do hope you gave the lovely people who worked for you — Harvey and Catalina, especially — more notice than you gave your customers.
Dee Vitale Henle


Neigh, sir, you’re wrong

To The Editor:
Re “Some horse sense from the L.E.S. on carriage horses” (talking point, by Clayton Patterson, Jan. 16):

What a remarkable upbringing Clayton Patterson had. I loved the description of all those horses, and how his father worked out a deal for alternate years and foals with the First Nation reservation. He’s right that horses are often workhorses, not just animals for pleasure riding.

What he’s wrong about is the fact that today’s New York City carriage horses have to deal with trucks, buses, taxis (which cross from one side of the street to another to get a fare, and that’s another story), baby carriages and strollers, skateboarders, bicycles, motorcycles, pedestrians, fire engines, ambulances and police cars. Decades ago, it was a much easier time for carriage horses than it is today.

Were the horses housed in the park, never taken out of the park, and well cared for, that would be a different story.

The idea of using old Model T and other replica electric cars is a hoot, and if they’re energy efficient, what a great example is that? It’s going to be a huge success, and the former horse carriage drivers can be the new car drivers. New homes for the horses are already in the works.

Yes, it was a wonderful thing to take a carriage horse ride in Central Park, but no longer. Too many accidents have happened recently. It’s an idea whose time has passed.

Lee Bartell


Downsizing disaster

To The Editor:
Re “New funding could cut burden on Section 8 residents” (news article, Jan. 16):

Downsizing is un-American. What other recipients of a federal subsidy besides Section 8 vouchers have to vacate their homes in order to close the proposed budget gap?

What gives the Department of Housing Preservation and Development the right to decide not to honor the terms of a voucher that they issued and distributed for many years?

Who will be responsible for the financial loss of household furnishing and goods that have to be discarded because they will not fit into a zero-bedroom apartment?

Who will pay for the purchase of new appropriate-size furniture for a zero-bedroom apartment?

Who will come in twice daily to open and close a sofa bed for a downsized elderly tenant?

Who will pay for the cost of moving? H.P.D. said moving assistance could be provided by other agencies. Who will pay for those agencies? If those agencies have a surplus of funds, why not put it toward keeping elderly people in their apartments that they have occupied for more than 35 years?

Who has done a financial analysis that shows that downsizing tenants — including paying for their loss of household furnishings, and the cost of new, appropriate-size furnishings and the cost of moving — will offset the proposed $37 million proposed Section 8 budget shortfall for this year?

Who has done a financial analysis on how H.P.D. will handle the estimated $40 million proposed Section 8 budget shortfall for next year?

These points are just the “tip of the iceberg” regarding a terribly conceived plan. Seniors who lived in harm’s way during Hurricane Sandy were moved to the safety of eldercare homes; a study cited in USA Today showed that the death rate increased 158 percent in the first 90 days after this relocation.

We need a moratorium on downsizing until H.P.D. shows what this plan will actually accomplish, not in theory, but in actuality.

Rita Popper
Popper is co-chairperson HAAD (Housing Alliance Against Downsizing)

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