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Sweet Relief

To the Editor:

Being more or less in charge of several dozen more or less attentive eighth-graders, I think I’m in a position to inform Paul Rapp [“The Daily Travesty,” Rapp on This, Sept. 1] that certain subtleties, such as the number of poor in New Orleans or the environmental delicacy of the Mississippi Delta, are still a bit beyond their ability to intuit on their own. The magnitude of the current tragedy, however, is not. Already a number of students at the junior high school where I teach have come forward, some asking earnestly what they can do to help, others having already taken the initiative of planning their own charity bake sale. We’re harnessing their concern and their energy to propel a schoolwide campaign to collect donations for disaster relief.

These fairly coddled (I teach on Chicago’s affluent North Shore) young adolescents have enough sense to recognize how serious this catastrophe is and to feel an obligation to do something about it. I wonder how it happens that even the relatively modest amount of perspective and empathy possessed by 12- and 13-year-olds has been completely bled out of our national television news corps.

Keith Ammann


The No-Spin Zone

To the Editor:

I am grateful to Metroland for the ongoing coverage of the 2005 election candidates via “The Candidates on the Record” [Newsfront, ongoing]. I appreciate reading candidates’ responses to the questions and I found the answers provided by John Rosenzweig (Albany Common Council, Ward 8, Democrat) of particular interest.

As Mr. Rosenzweig indicated in his response, he is a current member of the Zoning Board of Appeals. He also said that “. . . the true art of any good politician is being able to bring the stakeholders in any given situation or issue to the table, understanding that everybody may not be able to be accommodated to their particular liking, but taking all the input from all the stakeholders and using that to come up with the best idea.” I find this statement to be a complete contradiction to his actions.

In his role on the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), Mr. Rosenzweig (and his peers) chose to ignore Center Square residents’ pleas to the ZBA not to grant a variance to a local developer, allowing a zoned two-family property (located at 329 State Street) to be converted into a 13-unit apartment building. Not only was the 13-unit variance granted to the developer without any finding of fact on the part of the ZBA, the ZBA also gave the developer another “gift” and granted the developer an area variance for parking, meaning the ZBA chose to ignore a law that requires one off-street parking spot for each additional unit allowed by the variance. Parking in Center Square is always an issue, and the decision granted by the ZBA—Mr. Rosenzweig—allows anywhere from 13 to 26 additional cars to compete for parking on the streets of Center Square.

At the ZBA hearing on the application for the 13 units, residents of Center Square—the “stakeholders”—clearly stated that an additional 13 units in Center Square would significantly impact the quality of life in the neighborhood. By supporting the application for the variance to allow 13 units in a property that was zoned two-family, I cannot help but question Mr. Rosenzweig’s ability to recognize quality of life issues, and to be “a good politician.” As he stated, a good politician takes “all the input from all the stakeholders and using that to come up with the best idea.” Is 13 units the “best idea”—or the best use of the property?

Additionally, the ZBA’s decision to allow the 13 units set in motion nearly three years of litigation, challenging the ZBA’s decision, at a cost of thousands of dollars to Center Square neighbors. The developer, a 30-plus years’ New York State licensed real estate broker who claimed he was unaware of the two-family zoning restrictions when he purchased the property, was granted the variance by the ZBA on the preposterous grounds that the developer would not be able to make a reasonable rate of return on his investment if he was not granted the right to turn a two-family property into a 13-unit apartment building. Facts that contradicted the developer’s assertions that he would not be able to make a reasonable profit were presented to the ZBA, and all but one member ignored the neighbors’ facts. Mr. Rosenzweig’s vote in favor of the variance ensured that a developer could make his profit while the neighborhood suffers. Ironically, Mr. Rosenzweig’s platform is “neighborhoods first.”

Metroland reported on the neighborhood’s challenge of the decision in the article “Standing in the Streets” [Newsfront, July 29, 2004].

Thank you very much for bringing real issues and concerns of our city and surrounding area to your readership.

Elise Van Allen


Editor’s note: The writer owns property adjacent to the building in question.

Church on Time

To the Editor:

Your review of last weekend’s Avril Lavigne show [“Youth Gone Mild,” Live, Sept. 1] seriously missed the mark by failing to mention the evening’s true show stealer: Butch Walker. Well, you do mention his taking over the vocals during Avril’s set for a cover of Blur’s “Song 2,” but that hardly makes up for it. Mr. Walker’s performance showed that he not only has an amazing voice, but a personality to match his powerful vocals. By the end of his all-too-short set, Mr. Walker had won over the entire audience, kids and parents alike. His set went above and beyond the call of duty of show “opener,” bringing the audience to their feet and sending hundreds of new fans scurrying to his autograph tent for a chance to meet him. Many would miss Gavin DeGraw’s performance as a result (and my guess is they weren’t too upset about it).

And since “My Happy Ending” is your not-so-secret guilty pleasure, you might be interested to know that Mr. Walker wrote and produced that song.

Laura DiBetta

Saratoga Springs

Final Draft

To the Editor:

Thank you so much for your story about the options young people have if there were to be a draft [“I Object,” Aug. 25]. And thanks to David King for doing such a fine job!

I would like to let your readers know that if they would like to be involved in outreach to young people concerning draft information and conscientious objection, they can contact me, Carole Ferraro, at or 463-0095. The Citizens for Selective Service Education meet on the last Wednesday of the month in Albany. There’s also a group in Saratoga Springs, Saratoga Citizens for Selective Service Education: contact, Claire Cafaro,, or 583-8838.

We also have a website with lots of information and links to resources. It’s

If you’d like a workshop on draft information for your community, youth, school or church group, contact Paul Frazier, or (315) 475-2811.

Carole Ferraro



In our review of Summer Selections 2005 at the Fields Sculpture Park (“Not Too Far a Field,” Art, Aug. 18), David Brickman mistakenly attributed a stainless-steel sculpture featuring bullet holes to Magdalena Abakanowicz. The piece, titled Gunshot Landscape, is by Margaret Evangeline.

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

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