Washington Square Park Skateboarders Cry Foul as Police Begin Crackdown

Dear Editors:

Having read Sophia Astor’s piece, “Washington Square Park Skateboarders Cry Foul as Police Begin to Crackdown,” I was disappointed that the police are choosing to enforce a “no skating rule” in the park. 

I’ve been regularly going to the park most afternoons, as I’m a photographer, currently working on portrait project: @dont_smile_nyc. Yes, Mayor Adam’s comment that “Washington Square Park is a place where people are injecting themselves with drugs, while babies are trying to play,” is a true statement. My first question is: Why don’t I ever see the police cracking down on the junkies who occupy the northeast corner of the park, instead of fining our youth for skating? 

The skaters are engaging in healthy activities by being physically active and being creative (photographing each other doing it). I would argue that skating is a much-needed outlet for some in a world now plagued by a worldwide pandemic, threats to democracy (the latest of which is the horrific violence in Ukraine) racism, sexism and the effects of global warming.

In Washington Square Park, I find a wonderful mix of people, very often the warmest and friendliest in the city. Especially since the spring of 2021, after a year spent indoors hiding from a deadly virus, I’ve noticed the park take on a vibrancy, a relaxed exuberance, and a feeling of freedom. There is always an array of musicians playing and dancers performing. Whether they be students, tourists, families or nannies with children, artists or young entrepreneurs selling their wares, the park attracts people looking to relax and enjoy life. The skaters are part of the park’s fabric.

Those who skate inside the fountain, when it’s not in use, seem to entertain the crowd, as onlookers sit on the outer ring and steps of the fountain, watching the skaters’ skill and perseverance, as they attempt trick after trick. These skaters are part of what make the park what it is, a joyful gathering place. Instead of suddenly banning skating and fining skaters who disobey the new “no skate rule,” perhaps the city and park commission should enforce a “no needle rule” and clamp down on hard drug users, who could potentially cause violence in the park.

— Amy Horowitz



Dear Editors:

In Sophia Astor’s article “Washington Square Park Skateboarders…” (March 2022), the excellent in-person reporting shines a light on what is going on in our neighborhood. Similarly, a recent NYTimes article wrote of the proliferation of marijuana sales in the park, specifically. (Vendors must be licensed before offering anything for sale.) And last year, news reports of overnight park crashers and vandalism, confirmed by police reports, pointed to a serious deterioration in the quality of the park.

The important reporting gives facts, not speculation, to the issue of how the parks are used, and who is populating our parks. Repeatedly, we find that the users are from far away in the city or region. We know there are dedicated skateboard areas in other parts of the city, so there is no compelling reason to use Washington Square Park for skateboarding. In Tomkins Square Park, there is a skateboard area larger than the paved area between the Arch and the dog runs, and only a handful of skaters were there; why? People want to go where there is an audience, or customers, even when it’s prohibited.

In all cases, it is the health, safety, and welfare of park users at risk. Enforcement is the key to keeping our park welcoming to all ages.

—Brian J Pape


Don’t Feed the Rats!

Dear George,

I have been a Bank Street owner/resident since 1978. I am unhappy about the irresponsibility of residents and maybe the tourists, who knows, that seem to think the streets are trash bins. The police do not seem to be helping us. No car is ticketed if there is someone in it. They no longer move over for the inefficient street sweepers. I find myself picking up trash in front of my house and after other dogs when I take my own dog out. This is not my job. And I am about 8 years younger than you.

I do not know anyone who likes rats BUT it seems New Yorkers love to feed them. Rats eat anything including kitchen waste, discarded leftover take-away food, and dog poop. 

Our corner waste bins are full to overflowing—we could have them emptied more often and have more of them.

Throwing things in gardens and tree pits only encourages rats to burrow into the ground.

Bagging dog poop is only the first step. The bag needs to be secured, closed, and carried to the nearest street corner bin. Putting these bags on top of trash bags put out for the Sanitation Department collection is useless. Sanitation workers collect prepared bags, not small ones that fall off when the larger ones are collected.

Rats are vectors of disease. Think of the Medieval plagues. Rats swim, often live in sewers and climb pipes, even into houses.

New York City is trying to get people to recycle kitchen waste. This works well in some neighborhoods but less well in others. Brown containers are used for food recycling. Food recycling includes vegetable trimmings, cooked food and often garden waste. It does NOT include dairy products, meat or bones, plastics or pizza boxes and other trash.

Recently three brown bins were put at the corner of 13th Street and 7th Avenue in Manhattan. It seems no one read the instructions, closed the bins to keep the rats out, or filled them appropriately. I am sure the rats had a field day!

Let’s grow up, be thoughtful and responsible, and teach the younger generation to do better than we are now doing.

—Jenny Janzen

The bulbs we planted are coming up during this mild weather. We planted more daffodils in the Fall than we usually do. This is because they come back every year, they multiply and animals don’t eat them because they are poisonous. They do eat tulips and other bulbs. Let’s not feed the rodents. I’ve also noticed a lot of rat holes around the tree beds, so be careful when planting. Whether you are a homeowner or tenant bring this to the attention of your building’s exterminator. Due to so much construction activity and curbside restaurants we have a problem that we need to deal with. Happy Spring Planting.

—Alan Perna



Dear Editor,

In George Capsis’ cover article, “How Can One Man Make War?”, the very fact that he equates Putin and Trump proves something that Alfred Hitchcock has a character say in his movie, The Lady Vanishes. 

Reading an article in a British newspaper about some perceived egregious malfeasance, Charters or is it Caldicott? opines, “Americans have no sense of perspective”. 

Clearly, George, you had no “sense of perspective” when you were crafting your thought comparing both leaders.

—John F. Early

Senior Discount Day

Hopefully you seniors are aware that some supermarkets offer a 10% discount to seniors on a specific day during the week….each supermarket has a different day for this discount. Here in the WestVillage, Brooklyn Fare’s 10% discount for seniors is Thursday and Dagostino’s senior discount day is Tuesday….hopefully the new supermarket scheduled to open this Spring on Hudson St will also offer a senior discount. BUT after waiting until Thursdays to shop at my favorite supermarket Brooklyn Fare, I had a rude awakening. When I returned home and checked my purchase slip I couldn’t understand where this 10% discount showed up on the slip so I called Brooklyn Fare and was informed that the 10% discount did not apply to products “on sale”….well, being a good shopper I always looked for sale items when shopping….who wouldn’t! So, seniors beware….you are only getting that “senior 10% discount” on items not on sale.

Needless to say, I don’t wait for Thursdays to shop at Brooklyn Fare anymore.



WestView to the Rescue

Distressed by the following letter, I contacted Bank of America. WestView was able to help Mr. Jesse resolve the issue.

Mr. Capsis,

I live at 136 Waverly Place. On the ground floor of our apartment building is a Bank of America ATM branch. Several people who appear to be drug addicts are shooting-up in the bank vestibule on a regular basis. They sneak in behind someone who enters the bank. They are getting high and often sleep on the bank floor. The bank is not doing much to prevent this situation from happening. The police at the Sixth Precinct have not been responsive either.

I think the bank should hire security guards who could prevent vagrants from entering and/or call the police if they see people dealing or using drugs in their lobby.

I was wondering if WestView would be willing to investigate or cover this in the paper. I’m hoping the bank would feel compelled to do something if they saw this story was made public. The bank might step-up and take responsibility for the illegal activity that is happening in their vestibule if they felt they were getting negative publicity.

—Thank you, Peter Jesse 


Hi George,

I received word that the ATM vestibule at 130 Waverly Place is clear. There is a guard posted, and he will remain in the location during its hours of operation, from 5 am to 11 pm, until March 28. The site is closed and locked overnight.

Will you please thank your reader for bringing this to our attention. We want our customers to feel safe and welcome in all of our locations. If you hear of any other instances, send them directly to me (but please do not publish my contact info).

—Anu Ahluwalia

Bank of America


Lost St Vincent’s Hospital

Mr. Paradiso,

I just read your article on “The Lost St. Vincent’s Hospital” and am both impressed and sadly reminded of the hospital’s absence. It came to my attention via a member of the Alumnae of the nursing school and by now it has probably been passed to the entire membership.

I grew up in Stuyvesant Town over on 14th Street and worked at St. Vincent’s from 1964 to 1970 as a tech in various areas and my wife started there as a student nurse in 1966. We left in 1970 when we got married and move from New York City. Today, retired, I serve on the Board of Directors at a local hospital and constantly remind the administration that quality patient care has its roots at St. Vincent’s. The golden rule that I apply is that “It’s not enough for patients to feel cared for, they have to feel cared about.” That was St. Vincent’s staff to the letter.

The reason for my note to you is to add another slice of history. You wrote that “In 1870 the hospital introduced its first horse-drawn ambulance service.” There is another “first” in St. Vincent’s ambulance service that very few people know about today. In the late 1960s the hospital began to operate a Cardiac Care ambulance in a uniquely designed, equipped and staffed vehicle that, if memory serves, was donated by the Fruehauf Corporation. It was a historic “first.” At the time, the only mobile Cardiac Care vehicle in the world was in Dublin, Ireland. St. Vincent’s rolled out the first one in the nation. I can attest to that fact since I rode on it.

You have the best wishes of an awful lot of people behind you in your “Part Two” column. It would be a great help if you could let me know that the second article has been published. I’ll pass it along. Thank you so much for caring enough to remember St. Vincent’s and the place it held in the community.

—Dennis E. McGowan

CORRECTION: Barbara Ruether has corrected me as to St. Vincent’s Hospital’s real closing date. It was May 9th, her last work day. April 30th had been announced, but May 9th was the ultimate day. Here’s how she explains it: “The business closing date was May 10, 2010. Patient clinics, etc., were April 30. I was there to the bitter real end.”

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      I think it is time to alert people to another landlord who is on the same level as the Cromans and the Toledanos. Gatsby Enterprises, owned and run by the Ohebshalom/Shalom family, has bought up many old apt buildings and created unhappy conditions for many of the long-term tenants. Think harassment. Think poorly maintained services. Think evictions and illegal tenants coming in and out of your building. All in an effort to get you out and turn over the apts over and over and over again.
      We now have leases which could be as short as one month!

      I am thinking of the newly absorbed building on the corner of Perry Street and 7th Avenue. Or the building on the corner of 11th Street and Hudson, where Philip Marie once was. I am thinking of the many buildings on Sullivan and Thompson Streets in the West Village and those in the Sullivan-Thompson Historic District.

      But for any who find you have Gatsby as your new landlord, I suggest you talk to your neighbors and all organize, get a good lawyer and fight, fight, fight.

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