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New York City is Not Paris

Dear WV News,

I’ve been following WestView’s coverage of the outdoor-dining conflict and I’ve been somewhat amused by the evocation of Paris as something the Village should emulate. But I’ve actually been doing it from Paris, where I recently moved after having been a West Villager for four decades. 

The reason so many Paris streets are wide enough to accommodate outdoor dining goes back to Georges Haussmann, Napoleon III’s city planner; they were designed to make it easier for the military to quash insurrections. But more to the point, outdoor dining has an etiquette that’s developed over time, and making enough noise to disturb other patrons and local residents is a no no. In addition, Paris has strict quality of life laws that generally favor residents.  

Regarding the attempt by the new owners of the Corner Bistro to add live music, CB stopped being a good neighbor long ago, and they should not be allowed to get away with this latest assault on quality of life; the acrid, greasy smoke wafting into the windows of 31 Jane because of CB’s deliberately bad ventilation is more than enough.

I love the West Village and it will always be home, so much as I hate to say it, New York City is not Paris and never will be no matter how many outdoor tables jam up already over-crowded streets. 

—Toni L. Kamins

Barrow Street Senior Center

George:

I know you are aware of the closure of the Greenwich House Senior Center at Barrow Street. 60 to 100 seniors, like myself, who has been a member here for 20 years and have become intimately attached to this facility as if it were my home, through its great range of activities, like exercise, art, music, film and other classes, and the many close friends that have been made here, will arbitrarily be expected to be jammed into other centers in the Village that are ALREADY OVERCROWDED! This at the very time that there is an explosion in the senior population in the city with Boomers retiring.

I and everyone I know will be devastated by this terrible decision, that will replace our center with an “intergenerational adult program” (!) that will no longer feed our members with actual home-cooked meals (unlike the other centers that use catered meals), but use our kitchen instead to teach some others to cook! (How many NYers cook, anyway? NY is a restaurant town.) Why is that more important than actually feeding seniors, many of whom simply can’t get to other centers that are already overcrowded? This is a bald-faced attempt to monetize this space to offer “employment services and a business center” to younger people who can get these services elsewhere, without throwing seniors under the bus. And this building, Barrow Street, already has six other floors that bring in massive amounts of money in the form of an expensive private daycare center for young children that costs thousands of dollars per semester and leaves the building empty after school hours.  Another crack-pot (yes, that’s what I call it) scheme is to open an “Older Adult Center” (?What is that?) at Westbeth Artists Housing. I live at Westbeth and I know the space they want to use. It’s got no kitchen to home cook meals, so just another place to feed catered meals, and way, way too far out of the way for seniors displaced from Barrow House to get to! This whole scheme is bad news all the way around, just in order to bring in more cash… lining someone’s pockets here? A couple of years ago Greenwich House management tried a similar scheme to throw out our close-knit senior population, but that was thwarted by a vigorous outcry, led by you, George, for which you are well remembered. Thank you.   

—Gary Friedman

Open Restaurants

Dear George,

Thank you for speaking with me and thank you for your fantastic WestView News!

I would like to contact Brian J. Pape and am planning to present copies of his outstanding article, “DOT Fails Enforcement of Open Restaurants” at the Community Board 2 meeting.

I am pleading with the board to deny On The Corner NY, LLC d/b/a The Mary Lane, 99 Bank St. 10014 (OP-Restaurant) “an ALTERATION of an existing liquor license”  because they want to “add open restaurant seating” of 54 outdoor seats the length of the residential block on Greenwich Street between Bank Street and Bethune Street during the hours of 7am to Midnight, 7 days a week. Their application was careless and shoddy with barely a sketch of what they plan to do with the length of a quiet block. This is unacceptable and will destroy yet another special area of our neighborhood.

We have over 250 community members who have signed our petition and expressed many serious concerns in the comment section, please go to:  No Outdoor Restaurant Space on Greenwich Street at: www.change.org/QuietVillage

I hope to meet you in person soon and thank you for your support on this pressing issue.

—Lisa Taylor

Hello Lisa,

Thank you for your activism.  As a member of the CB2, we take these things seriously and work for a better community. I wrote the article as a report of a public hearing, to inform those who couldn’t be there. 

See you at the meeting. Thank you.

—Brian J. Pape, AIA

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