Greed Is Good
Colin Gustafson’s article, “Parkway Villagers Mull ProposalTo Sell Co-op,” Queens Chronicle, July 13, combined a retelling of the story of David and Goliath (from Goliath’s point of view) with a sympathetic, if unstated, nod toward Gordon Gecko’s “Wall Street” motto: “Greed is good.”
In the article, the efforts of approximately 10 renters andshareholders and the real estate agent they have engaged,Prudential Douglas Elliman, were characterized as beingprogressive and, alas, misunderstood by reactionary and fearful “scared-to-death seniors”; others “misinformed”;and all “working late, so they can pay ridiculous bills, which they’re sick of.”
Besides eliciting quotes only from the minority interested in selling Parkway Village, the article then extensively quotes Prudential spokesmen, who hope to reap millions on such a sale, and a part-time law instructor from St. John’s, a university whose efforts to construct zone-busting high-rise dormitories on Union Turnpike were just defeated at the community board level due to the vigorous opposition of Parkway Village.
Unwittingly or not, Gustafson’s article thus presents the out-of-sync views of a small group of deluded, malcontented residents, a real estate giant hoping to extract millions through the destruction of a viable middle- and working-class community, and a well-endowed and expanding edu-business that would be a likely bidder for the property, should this scheme bear fruit.
Coupled with a litany of some past problems of Parkway —which have been resolved — the message of the article isclear: These people know what’s best for you, Parkway — just sign on the dotted line and trust us.
With all due respect, this “article,” should have been in thepaid advertisement section of your normally excellent newspaper.
Parkway Village is an anomaly to the real estate developers: a large, functioning and, particularly recently, improving cooperative development, whose apartments sell at a fast pace when available. If you are a real estate firm in search of the next and “hot properties for development,” it’s hard to make millions off of Parkway.
Parkway, which has been mixed-income and multiculturalbefore there was such a word, also confounds real estatebrokers by not being susceptible to their usual playbook of racial and “changing neighborhood” sales pitches.
Prudential’s current attempt at inducing fear in a community in order to create a stampede is just the latest chapter in a decades-long assault on middle- and working-class ethnically integrated housing in our borough. Nothing more and nothing less. Next time around, we expect them to try an end run around the approval process and head straight to eminent domain. The time when a developer could scare a community, bulldoze the houses and trees, put up high-rises and call it progress has passed — perhaps they did not get the message.
Unfortunately for Prudential and St. John’s, and for the small band of residents they have enlisted, a majority of Parkway’s residents have the maturity to realize what is under way and will not permit it.
If a juggernaut like Robert Moses could be stopped by Jane Jacobs and a small band of committed activists, the unholy troika of greed currently at work against Parkway will likewise be thwartred. A fourth of the residents have, in two months, formed a Parkway Preservation Committee, which is aggressively moving to protect the property from the greed exhibited in Gustafson’s article.
Deadline pressures must be intense, but in the future, weat Parkway would greatly appreciate your newspaper’sefforts at presenting stories concerning our Village in amore balanced and accurate manner.
Liz Rhoades’ coverage of the current landmarking efforts in Queens(“Landmarking Plans Continue,” Queens Chronicle, July 12) is both excellent reporting and valuable information for readers. It comprehensivelydescribes the difficulty in acquiring landmark status, the great effort that must be expended to do so, and the enormous value each historic districtadds to the community and to greater Queens as a whole.
It should be noted that the designation of Douglas Manor and Douglaston Hillas the fifth and sixth districts so anointed by the Landmarks Preservation Commission required a total of more than 15 years of intense work bytheir residents. Prior to that time, there had been only four historic districts in all of Queens — the most populous borough in New York City,compared to more than 50 in the rest of the city.
The hard work of those dedicated community members who understand the importance of preserving ourneighborhoods had, with the assistance of state Sen. Frank Padavan, Councilman Tony Avella and Urban Planner Paul Graziano, paved the wayand, perhaps, made it a bit easier for Sunnyside Gardens to become the seventh landmarked district in Queens. Moreover, those efforts have becomethe paradigm for Bayside’s Weeks Woodlands and Bellcourt areas, the Lawrence-Montauk neighborhood and Broadway-Flushing, to move forward withtheir hopes to add to the list of designated historic districts in Queens County.
In light of all that, one wonders: Why would anyone want to remove his own property from an existing historic district? So eager to do so, in fact, that he would try to overturn the designation of the entire neighborhood just to serve his own needs — notwithstanding the wishes of all the other residents of the district. But that is precisely what Kevin Mosley and his wife, Diana, both attorneys, did. Fortunately, they were unsuccessful in pressing their lawsuit.
Although they have made substantial renovations to their home on 240th Street in the Douglaston Hill Historic District, all with the approval of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, they claim that the 5,000-plus square foot structure is not big enough to house their family of four and one grandmother.
It is worth noting that the average New York City apartment and the average single-family home in this city are 1,000 and 1,500 square feet, respectively. At more than three times the size of the average home and five times that of the average apartment, the Mosleys claim their mansion is not large enough for them. Allegations have been made that the real reason they want their home out of the historic district is their desire to further develop and sub-divide their property.
Whatever their reasons, removal of the Mosley property would seriously damage the contiguous nature of the district, possibly removing three other homes that would become disconnected.
Those homeowners, along with all the other residents of the Douglaston Hill Historic District, consider it unconscionable for the Mosleys to attempt to dash the dreams of so many other families and to try to invalidate the many years of work they have put into achieving landmark status for Douglaston Hill.
An important hearing on this matter will take place at the New York City Council on Monday, July 23 before the Subcommittee for Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses. As has occurred at all earlier hearings, a large contingent from Douglaston Hill will be present, continuing their efforts to keep the Douglaston Hill Historic District intact.
Stuart Hersh, trustee,
Douglaston/Little Neck Historical Society,
In the July 5 issue, there was an editorial and two letters on the subject of immigrants and immigration reform. Much of the blame and burden was put on Senate Republicans and American perceptions of immigrants. I’d like to state that immigrants and those who represent them have just as much a responsibility in the debate.
Immigrants are here to be American, and to be productive members of society. You are wrong if your reason to come here is to expect the United States goverment or its citizens to support you, pay your medical bills or provide bilingual services. You are expected to act, dress and speak like Americans. That means learning English. Those of us who do not speak your language are not expected to learn a dozen tongues or get dirty looks when we go into your neighborhoods or business speaking English.
This is America, where we fly the Stars and Stripes. Sorry, but foreign flags and decals are for another place. Your loyalty is to this country.
American holidays and traditions are to be honored, not ridiculed or belittled. We will not accept the plea that they commemorate events that occurred before you arrived.
Americans wait their turn in line, do not call natives gringos, or urinate in public.
Can’t live by these rules? Then go back from whence you came.
More On Immigration
Your July 5 editorial, “Immigration Reform,” is simplistic. One can’t ascribe the defeat of the comprehensive immigration bill to a right-wing cabal or a “xenophobic minority.” The bill was brought down by a solid majority of Americans, including Democrats like me who don’t wish to reward lawbreakers to promote a British-style ethnic balkanization of the United States.
Your editorial does express the viewpoint of the Queens Chronicle. However, the article on page four, “Immigration Bill Gone But Not Forgotten,” is something else entirely. It purports to be a general news item about the failed immigration bill. Yet the overall tone is thoroughly pro-illegal immigration. Your reporter quotes four people in support of the bill, but not one opponent is heard from. It reminds me of the Spanish-language press, which scoffed at an amendment that would designate English as our national language — even though the amendment has overwhelming public support. (During a recent debate of Democratic candidates for president, Sen. Hillary Clinton said that she supported the amendment to make English our national language “because that’s what it is.”)
Those of us who helped defeat the immigration bill in the Senate represent all points on the political spectrum. We believe that the United States is not an enterprise zone but a country. Just like South Korea, Mexico and France, the United States has its customs, its national language and, yes, its own laws. The Queens Chronicle ably provided both sides of the debate on the landmarking of Sunnyside Gardens. Why can’t your newspaper do the same for an issue like illegal immigration?
Support Pet Trust Act
Two-thirds of American homes have pets and consider these creatures a vital part of the family. That’s why the Humane Society Legislative Fund supports H.R. 2491, the Charitable Remainder Pet Trust Act, a bipartisan bill in Congress introduced by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) and Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.).
While most states, including New York, have laws allowing pet owners to establish trusts for the longterm care of their companion animals, there is no federal law dealing with this important issue. It is common sense legislation that encourages charitable donations, places no burden on taxpayers or the federal government, and gives pet owners the peace of mind that their dog, cat, or other animal will be cared for.
Millions of responsible animal guardians are eager to secure the permanent well-being of their pets. We strongly urge Representative Joseph Crowley, who is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is considering this issue, to support and co-sponsor the Charitable Remainder Pet Trust Act.
Humane Society Legislative Fund,