Letters to the editor, Feb. 9

Hoping this isn’t the last of the ice rink

Photo by Sabina Mollot

Re: “City warms up to ST ice rink,” story, T&V, Feb. 2
In the recent issue about the ice skating rink in the Oval, a resident complained about a possible permit violation on the site because “…there have been no fire marshals on site, which was part of the terms of a permit issued.”

I realize there are two sides to every argument, but do you really want to deny people the chance for honest fun, effective forms of exercise, and a pleasant change of scenery in the normally bland post-Christmas, pre-summer months because of something that benign?
This is fire on water we might be dealing with, not fire on wooden buildings on a dry night in Chicago, 1871. If you don’t think a fire would be swiftly handled, please, let me introduce you to the cell phone, 911, and a company of Fire Firefighters on East 14th and First Avenue, about a minute away.

First, let me state my unequivocal support for the ice rink. The only flaw, in my eyes, is that it could be cheaper for residents, though they do give free hours, which my family enjoys. I love the ice rink. Not only have I spoken proudly about it to friends, and enjoyed the views, but many others, including seniors have as well and I see scores of other families enjoying the rink every day. But they aren’t the only ones to benefit from its presence.

My father especially has really enjoyed it and helped him re-ignite his passion for skating (perhaps as close as any city father can get to skating on frozen lakes during childhood). It has also helped him meet new neighbors. And while the benefits of Oval Amenities are still a mystery to us, it has been a great way for him, and our family, to find something new to love in Stuy Town.

I also want to say I’m proud of the DOB for approving the Ice Rink for the sake of a little capitalist enterprising and a general quality of life improvement for the people of Stuy Town and Peter Cooper. Management has even responded effectively to many quality of life complaints, putting to rest resident concerns.

But for anyone who thinks that the ice rink isn’t a good idea, I just need you to know there plenty of people who think it is a great idea and I hope to see it return every winter. And if making perks like this financially worth their while is all Stuy Town Management needs to make this a better place for residents (insert obligatory plug for my passionate desire to bring the flea market back), I’m ok with that. I’ll even let them not have fire marshals on site.

Daniel Rosenhaus, ST

Essential black history

Black History Month at Oval Essentials… what a complete and utter joke! As I looked through their pamphlet for February, I did not see any event at all in honor of Black History Month. It was a repeat of last year in which there was no mention of any event at all for Black History Month as well.

Of course this February there are events for National Wear Red Day for heart disease in women, Valentine’s Day and the Oscars to name a few. There are even events to kick-off the Mardi Gras season with a Fat Tuesday affair and Capoeira lessons.

In 2011 there were celebrations for Chinese New Year in January, St. Patrick’s Day in March, Cinco de Mayo in May, Octoberfest and Halloween in October. December acknowledged Christmas and Hanukkah.
As an African American woman born and raised in Stuyvesant Town and currently raising my son here, I find it sad and disrespectful that Oval Essentials cannot bring themselves to even acknowledge Black History Month at all, especially given the early history of African Americans in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. I do not understand why African American dancers, speakers, authors, cooks etc. could not have been be brought in for at least one event during this time to acknowledge and celebrate the culture and contribution of our population.

I am truly disappointed that in 2012 with our first African American/White President nearly ending his first term in office, Oval Essentials cannot bring themselves to acknowledge, mention or celebrate black history. Will Oval Essentials ever overcome?

Marsha Cole, ST

In defense of the Stuy Town greenmarket

Re: “Greenmarket is a business,” letter, T&V, Jan. 26
“Name Withheld” again adapted the statement of our City’s chief planning officer to justify a mysterious obsession with eradicating the Greenmarket.  Inadvertently, he actually makes the case in favor of the Greenmarket, not against it:

First, the writer is correct that the Greenmarket operates under the umbrella of GrowNYC. GrowNYC is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization registered with the New York State Department of State. Its not-for-profit tax ID number is 13-2765465.   One can review its records with the website of the Secretary of State and the State Attorney General.  All of its financial records are publicly available.
GrowNYC is the umbrella organization of the Greenmarket, and it is not a commercial entity. Therefore, all of its operations are not-for-profit, charitable and educational.  They are not commercial operations.

Secondly, Director Burden quoted the Zoning Resolution:  a permitted accessory use is “(c)… operated… substantially for the benefit or convenience of the… occupants… or visitors of the principal (residential) use”.

Director Burden then wrote, “City Planning has taken Section (c) to prohibit businesses which are not primarily restricted to use by residents. Uses like gyms, newspaper stands, concierge or swimming pools when primarily restricted to residents and guests are considered accessory uses permitted in a residential district” (A. Burden to D. Garodnick, November 1, 2011, p. 1.)

Nothing could be more clear. Compare the Greenmarket to a newsstand (a specifically permitted use): A newsstand is operated openly, yet its use is primarily for the benefit and convenience of residents in the zoned district.

The regulations are clearly meant to prohibit a manufacturing plant from opening up at 2 Stuyvesant Oval. It would not be permitted for a law firm to set up shop on the 8th Floor of 278 First Avenue. However, you probably could legally have a dry cleaner at 317 Avenue C, and one would be greatly welcomed. Such a business would be “primarily restricted to residents and guests” (quoting Director Burden).  A Greenmarket whose use “is primarily restricted to residents and guests” is therefore, by the plain language of Director Burden’s letter, fully legal and appropriate in the Oval. Nothing could be more “for the benefit or convenience” of our community.

The Greenmarket harms no one.  It does not advertise in any of the local newspapers. It takes place for five hours one day per week in the placid and bucolic setting of the Oval  It provides a rare and special opportunity for families of moderate means to meet and speak with one another, while discussing the relative merits of the Stayman’s Winesap and the Jonagold.

A valued amenity and convenience such as the Greenmarket strengthens a middle class community like Stuyvesant Town and should be embraced. We should find ways to protect the Greenmarket, not make up convoluted excuses to eradicate it.
Kind regards.

Name Withheld, ST

One thought on “Letters to the editor, Feb. 9

  1. In response to the Greenmarket issue:

    While the market is organized by a non-profit, the participants operate a commercial enterprise under their auspices. The money earned by the farmers is kept by them, not by the non-profit, therefore it is a commercial enterprise.

    In reference to accessory use, the law intends for those accessory uses to be strictly available to residents and their guests. The reference to news stands, concierges and swimming pools assume that those activities will be confined to areas accessible only by tenants. Since ST/PCV is not a gated community, it is considered open public space and therefore accessible to non residents. You could not easily restrict the Greenmarket to residents only, since anyone would be able to shop there, and therefore it would be a commercial enterprise and not an accessory use.

    As far as the intent of the zoning laws, the message is clear and unambiguous. Look at the zoning map and understand exactly what areas of the community are zoned for commercial use. Those areas are the ONLY areas where that is allowed.

    People resent the Greenmarket for a number of reasons, it brings a large amount of activity and traffic to the Oval on Sundays, a day when people who work all week long seek the quiet refuge of the Oval grounds. The activity destroys the Oval grass, leaving a 15′ x 75′ mud flat for everyone to look at when the market isn’t covering the ground. And contrary to your assertion that the market operates for “5 hours”, in fact the market opens at 9 AM and closes at 4 PM. That’s a 7 hour chunk of residents “peaceful and quiet Sunday”.

    The Greenmarket does NOT belong in the Oval. It is a worthwhile asset to the city, and it would be a benefit to the community if it is relocated to an adjacent property where its use is permitted. Perhaps the grounds of Solar One, or Asher Levy Place would serve well. I’d even recommend that Stuyvesant Park would be an excellent location, located just ONE block from Stuyvesant Town.

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