Letters to the Editor, June 19

Tenants want details, not vague statements

To the editor:

Ok… so we applaud our political representatives before we hear what they have to say … Ok… so we applaud repeatedly while they speak without knowing the implications of what we hear. Ok… so we leave the rally at our City Hall with the thought that perhaps in unity we are getting closer to our wishes.

We were, after all, assured that Fannie and Freddie will not finance a deal unless the deal guarantees long-term affordability. We hear, in one way or another, that the mayor’s folks are working a deal with CWCapital that would a) satisfy the bondholders and b) guarantee that some apartments would remain affordable.

I hope that I am wrong on all accounts, but does any of that have the sound of what we want? A deal?

Made by whom? Representing whose interests? Long-term affordability? For whom? Affordable apartments? Of those… how many, and for whom? So CWCapital gets to keep the place? “Keep” is rather a firm thing. There is nothing ambiguous or equivocal about “keep”… and we get… what? Well, right now, whatever it is, it is heavy on ambiguity and equivocation (wrapped in emphatic assurances).

As I see it, we really have not squared off against the principle that we are mere tenants living on someone’s property at, quite close to, their pleasure. We haven’t squared off against the prevailing grip that government has no real right to interfere in the running of business. Business is, after all, private.

Nowhere along the line has our side insisted that the private exists within the public, through the will of the public, with the financial (socialism) support of the public. That form of restraint, along with civility has been our self-imposed handicap.

So perhaps, just perhaps, the next time a political leader speaks, we consider holding applause until, by answering our questions, we are shown to what non-generalities that leader is committed. In that way, over time, political leaders may come to speak to us with a focused demonstration of acknowledgement and respect, and we, for our part, more than placards and background to a center that is not us.

John M. Giannone, ST

How tenants could invest in Stuy Town

First, congratulations to all of you who rallied on City Hall’s steps. I apologize for chickening out due to the rain.

But I write because a few years ago I spoke with a woman on the Fourth of July, Shabbos that year, at the Civic Center Synagogue for the Arts. She turned beet red when I revealed that I lived in Stuyvesant Town; which afforded me a small place on Long Island. She became flabbergasted, insisting that no one renting a stabilized apartment could have a second place.

I should have said, “If it was that great a place I’d be in shul out there.” Instead, I demanded that she differentiate between someone buying a chunk of, say, Pfizer stock and reinvesting its dividends and my buying a place. She couldn’t do it. (I was later validated to learn that she was a “farbissina landlord.”)

The confrontation made me reconsider my investment property given the current uncertainties here at my home, PCV-ST. Despite the place on Long Island having many minuses, it’s an asset. And, surely, PCV-ST neighbors who have investment properties see theirs as assets, too. But how many of us will be able to carry both our getaways, and, PCV-ST’s mortgage and maintenance?

Then lightning struck: the investment homeowners could be PCV-ST’s first responders. The collective value of our investment properties could be a big enough chunk to convert the property. I’m not a banker so this may be Pollyanna, but if there were a PCV-ST Federal Credit Union; capital could be raised to convert PCV-ST using our investment properties’ equity.

Rather than making news for record-breaking default, we could make news for record breaking collateral. After all, if Fortress prevails and buys us from CW, it’ll be virtually the same deal as the one that got Judge Crater vanished.

Billy Sternberg, ST

Auction should be encouraged

To the editor,

The politicians are busy coming up with a plan to prevent an auction of ST/PCV.  In fact, an auction should be embraced, for two reasons.

First, it will give the tenants an opportunity to make a bid for the property. The time has come for our partner Brookfield to show us how credible and well funded it really is.

Secondly, a purchaser at auction will have a strong incentive to conduct a conversion of the rental apartments into nice condos that we all could own.

Tenants would be offered an attractive insider price. Any tenants not wishing to sell could remain tenants in perpetuity.

New Stabilizers can become homeowners.

Two years ago, the Tenants Association announced it was “time for CW Capital to move on.” Now CW has said it will move on, and yet the TA is acting truculent and searching for ways to prevent an auction.

The time has come for tenants to take control of our destiny – with or without the Tenants Association.

An auction should be encouraged with all deliberate speed.

Name withheld, ST

No place to play for the disabled

Coincidence! My June 12 Town & Village, featuring a story about the Union Square playground (“Union Square Park, a place to play”), arrived the day after I had been on a tour of said playground with a wheelchair-bound activist for people with disabilities.

She particularly wanted to point out to me that the one toddler swing supposedly designed for this population was actually dangerous and could cause injuries – unlike better models installed in other parks (Washington Square and Madison Square.)

In the course of looking at other equipment, none of which had modifications needed to accommodate the disabled community, we noted some young teenagers on a moving apparatus along with a 3 or 4-year-old child — not the safest situation. We don’t blame the teenagers.  There is no play area specifically designated for them, although as my companion reminded me,  the old sandlot playground, just south of the 16th Street transverse, was to have been redesigned for older kids.

Instead, the Parks Department replaced the playground with a sitting area – without having presented the plan to Community Board 5.

To sum up, the playground, innovative as it is in some respects, makes no provision for two groups of children – older kids and youngsters with disabilities. With so little space available in this small park, didn’t it make sense to reserve the pavilion for recreational use?

Carol Greitzer

The writer formerly represented the park and Peter Cooper Village in the City Council.

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