City is backwards on Prospect Park work

for The Brooklyn Paper
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To the editor,

You guys deserve a lot of credit for taking a stand against those hideous coffins in front of the Long Island Rail Road’s Atlantic Terminal — and then getting the LIRR to actually remove them (“Tomb raiders,” Sept. 2).

In this post-9-11 age, it took guts to take a stand against our nation’s knee-jerk capitulation to the paranoia over security. Yes, public facilities should be safe and well-protected, but hiding a railway terminal — which your columnist rightly pointed out is supposed to be a symbol of openness and freedom — behind a massive wall only tells the terrorists that we’re scared.

And the more we keep doing that, the more we’ll eventually believe it.

Architecture, like words, paint, marble, pixels or any other artistic medium, is supposed to appeal to our loftiest goals. If our country stands for anything, it is freedom, not fright; democracy, not defeat.Rafael Lopez,

Brooklyn Heights

Park it

To the editor,

The other day, while taking my walk through Prospect Park, I came across the ongoing construction site for the new ice skating rinks which will be part of the so-called Lakeside project (“Anne-Katrin is PO’d,” online, Op-Ed, Aug. 20).

As I stood there, looking through the fence at the edge of the site, I wondered what was wrong with the old skating rink.

More than $25 million has been committed to this project by Mayor Bloomberg, the Council and Borough President Markowitz, in addition to more than $1 million in federal funding. At the end of the day, that’s an estimated $60 million dollars!

Why has all this attention and money been given to two ice-skating rinks and some manicured landscape in a park that has so many unattended issues, including drainage problems, neglected bridal paths for horses and unfinished overpasses by the Nethermead. How about cleaning up the notorious Vale of Cashmere area? Yes, it’s the city’s usual backwards approach to solving its problems.

Let’s look at the new smoking ban in our parks, which I have no objection to, but take any summer day in Prospect Park and you will find enough charcoal lighter fluid in the air to give everyone within a five-mile area a blinding headache, not to mention the carcinogens we are all breathing in. So what does the city do? Does it put a stop on barbecues as in Central Park? No!

Then, there’s the drive to preserve our park wild life by putting up fences all over the place — a move contradicted by the sanctioned murder of 500 park geese. My personal favorite bloop is building a bike lane on the outside of the park and then allowing cars to drive inside the park! Also, how about those notices on the trees in English and Spanish that tell you not to dump your charcoal too close to the trees because they might be harmed, while allowing you to set up your grill below one.

Where is the common sense that is needed in this city?

I am reminded of a remark once made by Mayor LaGuardia to one of his aides: “If you were any dumber, I would make you a commission­er!”

Michael Mastrogiacomo, Park Slope

Mayor BOO-berg

To the editor,

I voted for Mayor Bloomberg because I believed that he was a straight-shooting billionaire who couldn’t be bought. It never dawned on me that he thought he could do whatever he wanted to without an explanation.

His third term has been a disaster so far. He is trying anything and everything to leave behind a proud legacy, but unfortunately people will remember him for being an intrusive egomaniac, who thinks he doesn’t have to answer to anyone — for anything.

His statistics on crime are way under-reported, the school system is failing and his appointments for commissioners have been abysmal, yet he stands by his poor decisions.

He blew it with the blizzard earlier this year, and he over-reacted with Hurricane Irene to try compensate for the way the blizzard was handled. He wants to put us on diets and tell us what to eat, and his support of bicycle lanes and pedestrian plazas in the city is a joke.

He also covered for ex-Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith because he didn’t think it was anybody’s business that he was arrested for domestic abuse. Oh, really?

I believe Bloomberg suffers from a Napoleonic complex and is grossly overpaid at a dollar a year.

Michael Rocky, South Slope

Bike pains

To the editor,

I am sick of how the pendulum has swung so far in the direction of cyclists (“More bike help in Grand Army Plaza,” Sept. 2) — and I’m sick of how you consistently ignore the high-handed manner in which the Department of Transportation operates in this town.

It’s not enough that Grand Army Plaza will soon be cleaved with more bike lanes. But why must you keep ordering up stories to make bike lane foes look like silly old ladies?

There is a real legal issue at stake in the lawsuit over the Prospect Park West bike lane, namely that the city should not have the right to decide — by fiat — how our streetscape should be managed.

The city acted improperly on Prospect Park West. Tell your editor!

Ronald Means, Park Slope


To the editor,

Ouch! Stephanie Thompson’s “Fearless Parenting” column makes for painful reading sometimes.

As anyone partnered to a writer soon learns, “Everything is material” — and that makes that relationship complicated, if not downright treacherous.

But I remember your prior columnist, Smartmom. A good deal of her considerable skill laid in her ability to share private situations without making readers fear that members of her family had been betrayed (Teen Spirit and the Oh So Feisty One may disagree).

Thompson’s stories are not only hurtful, but feel unprocessed. One does not want to read much more about her sad situation, and I hope The Brooklyn Paper will act accordingly and find a better columnist.

Jeffrey Jones, Prospect Lefferts Gardens

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Reader Feedback

Oren from Windsor Terrace says:
Regarding Prospect Park: Michael Mastrogiacomo --- you nailed it 100% !!
Sept. 9, 2011, 6:42 am
Josef from downtown bklyn says:
With regard to the letter from Ronald Means of Park Slope:

Complete bollocks. The idea that "the pendulum has swung so far in the direction of cyclists" is absurd if one looks at reality instead of starting from the conception that motor vehicles deserve to dominate the road. If we took a person from the Amazon who had never seen NYC or either type of vehicle before and asked them whether the "pendulum" was closer to cars or bikes, I don't see how you could argue that the answer wouldn't be cars.

And that's a problem. Cars are practically and morally inferior to bicycles, and I think that's why drivers react so indignantly to being inconvenienced by cyclist - not only are they selfish, but they know in their hearts that relying on cycling, walking, and public transit is the more ethically defensible position.

Now, I know many people have no choice but to drive in their particular locale, especially in more spread-out areas of the US. But here, driving could be avoided. If we had implemented congestion pricing for the whole of Manhattan, our public transit system might have enough funds to keep up with maintenance and a growing ridership, the streets would be less crowded, and cyclists could more easily share them with drivers as a result. This should be revisited, but in the meanwhile, the best option is to privilege cycling and make driving as unattractive as possible, to eliminate personal trips where another mode of transportation would have sufficed as much as possible.
Sept. 9, 2011, 10:06 am
Mike says:
Re Ronald Means' letter: Cars dominate 99% of city streets, and kill hundreds of pedestrians and cyclists a year. It's a blessing that the city is finally trying to slow down the carnage.

There is nothing whatsoever for drivers to object to in the Grand Army Plaza revamp -- it's a total win-win. His letter therefore comes off as bizarre and paranoid.
Sept. 9, 2011, 11:57 am
s from PPW says:
"There is a real legal issue at stake in the lawsuit over the Prospect Park West bike lane, namely that the city should not have the right to decide — by fiat — how our streetscape should be managed."

They don't. That's why there was a lengthy community-driven process that began in 2006 and continued with multiple Community Board 6 meetings, public hearings, and opportunities for input. I'm sorry that Mr. Means couldn't be bothered to participate, but the bike lane was requested by the neighborhood.

And far from ignoring the DOT, the Brooklyn Paper has done its best to actively bash it with cut-and-pasted quotes from Jim Walden, Norman Steisel, and other opponents of safe streets. The editor of this paper is well aware of how the city acted.
Sept. 9, 2011, 1:13 pm
Peter Kaufman from Brooklyn Heights says:
Re: Ronald Means' letter,
The real "fiat" would have been the decree by a few well-connected people, to deny to the community, and indeed the city, a safer street.

Norman Steisel, Iris Weinshall, et. al, tried to pull off a coup. They failed.
Sept. 10, 2011, 10:51 am

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