The Depot: Letters and Announcements


The View from Rhinebeck

January 4, 2002

Dear Rail,

I read “Another Really Outstanding Article” (Jan.-Feb. ’02 Issue) by Ray Nedzel with interest.  I’ve also noticed this trend in exaggerated speech, but really only here in the city.  Upstate, particularly Rhinebeck, where I’m originally from, is a very different scene.  Nobody speaks in the terms mentioned in the article, and if someone tries, including me, they are looked at with a blank lack of recognition.  Newspaper articles in the Poughkeepsie Journal are laughably boring, about issues such as how a high school is going to break down its sports budget (ten field hockey sticks, three baseballs, etc.) or about a town meeting over a stop sign that is going to go up on the corner (this was really an article).  Strangely, two days ago on 1010WINS there was a report on the cleanup of Times Square after New Year’s Eve, and they said, “Cleaning crews found many hats and scarves,” and that was it.  I thought it was funny.  So anyway, boring news does exist, and people do speak slow, simple English, but you’ve got to look really hard for it.

I really, really like your newspaper,

Elaine Iaccino,
Brooklyn, NY

No More Evictions!

February 28, 2002

Dear Brooklyn Artists,

Since the December 2000 artist evictions in DUMBO of 60 individuals, who were given a four-hour notice to evacuate by the Buildings Department, and the attempted evictions throughout 2001, there has been a continuous effort by the LiveWork Coalition (http://www.brooklynlivework.org) to gain passage of a new law recognizing the rights of tenants to live and work in their homes without fearing exorbitant rent hikes, eviction, fraud, and harassment.  This new law, not yet passed, would protect 500 uncovered lofts in Manhattan and up to 10,000 individuals in Brooklyn.

The struggle has come a long way in the past year with the help of both Brooklyn and Manhattan politicians, as well as a lobbyist who is continuing to work on the law’s behalf.  This past December, a rally and candlelight vigil was held in DUMBO to commemorate the first anniversary of the evictions and to celebrate the accomplishments of 2001, which included writing the law, passing it through the state assembly and introducing it into the state senate.  Unfortunately, because of the lack of the vote on a full state budget, and the crises of 9/11, the law was not examined in the 2001 session.

But 2002 is an election year and the state budget is still in a crisis.  One hope is that this issue will appeal to politicians as a free way to build affordable housing; after all, it costs the state nothing yet produces new housing stock for New York City, which is desperately needed in the wake of 9/11.  The law is up for review again by the legislature hopefully as early as this month.  During January and February, the LiveWork Steering Committee arranged meetings with the Lower Manhattan Loft Tenants Association, Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver, and Mayor Bloomberg.  There will be trips to Albany and volunteers are always needed.

Steering Committee meetings are open to all and would benefit from the energy and talents of any new recruits.  If you would like to attend a meeting they are generally held every Tuesday, alternating between Brooklyn and Manhattan.  Please send a message to info@brooklynlivework.org, and we will contact you with the location for that week.  If you are in a loft that is uncovered, or are facing harassment or eviction, please contact us at members@brooklynlivework.org.  Filling out the census for us is also a great idea, in order to help both the city and the state realize our growing numbers.  None of the information is released except to brooklynlivenetwork, which consists of only loft dwellers who are in the same situation as everybody else.

We need to hear the voice of loft tenants all over the city in order to pursue our goals effectively.  We need you to come to general meetings and Steering Committee meetings whenever possible.  Please GET INVOLVED!  Let’s make 2002 the year we actually legalize thousands and thousands of loft tenants!

Sincerely,

Holls-Bogdanffy-Kriegh and Ellen Pearlman
Brooklyn Livework Coalition

Save McCarren Pool!

March 11, 2002

Dear Friends of McCarren Pool,

Greenpoint’s McCarren Pool is recognized throughout the architectural world as a masterpiece of 1930s WPA construction, but it is the only one of the network of ten giant pools the city built during the Depression that has not been renovated.  The pool flourished as a neighborhood center until the 1970s, when city budget cuts demolished proper systems of maintenance, operations, and security.  Over the past two decades there was a struggle between those who wished to bring the pool back and others who remembered the bad times of the ’70s and wished to demolish it.

In April of 2001, after almost two decades of debate, a unanimous decision was reached between Community Board #1, NYC Parks Department, and the Councilman Fisher’s office to restore McCarren Pool.  The design everyone agreed upon was a plan by Paul Vollmer Associates, which prompted a year-round multi-use facility featuring skating rinks, theaters and galleries, halls for community events, a semi-submerged gym, plazas, cafes, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

A meeting of the Parks Department, Vollmer Associates, and former Mayor Giuliani aimed at moving the McCarren Pool restoration to the next stage, was scheduled for Sept. 17, and so of course did not happen.  Meanwhile, Councilman Fisher lost in his bid to become Brooklyn Borough President.  Now, Mayor Bloomberg has placed a moratorium on building projects and a heavy clamp on city spending, with exceptions.

Despite the current climate, we cannot lose sight of the goal we were so close to realizing.  We must maintain the effort and the momentum.  Agreements, the hard part, have been accomplished.  Now, as a wise man used to say, “It’s only money.”  In 1984, voices from within the community saved McCarren Pool from demolition.  Now, too, the sound of the community can resurrect it.  We are in the process of assembling a core group of individuals and organizations to illuminate and strategize the way.  At this time Independent Friends of McCarren Park is the parent structure.  Please call us at 718-383-7467, or email us: ifmp@earthlink.net.

Sincerely,

Phyllis Yampolsky
President, Independent Friends

of McCarren Park

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