I read with interest your article concerning the removal of benches outside the Vanderbilt Apartment due to undesirable people using them [“Benched,” July 28, Xpress]. Most of the people who used these benches were residents of the apartment building and most are old and extremely poor, which in today’s society is a sin in itself. What is so wrong about sitting outside to socialize with each other and to watch the world go by [while] enjoying a cigarette?
National Church Residence owns the Vanderbilt Apartment building and the Battery Park apartments. I lived in the Battery Park for almost six years and when it comes to the rights of the residents and those of the business it rents to residents have no rights.
The same thing happened with Havana Restaurant when it opened. Residents were not allowed to sit and smoke on the side of the restaurant near the handicapped parking area. NCR also claimed it was unsightly and threatened them with eviction if they sat outside and smoked in this area. However, the staff of the restaurant is allowed to sit on the step and smoke in this area which in my opinion is also unsightly. NCR claimed that the side of the building is rented to Havana in order to place tables for customers and yet this space is designated as a handicap ramp for the use of people with disabilities. Tables are spread out on this ramp and that of the patio in the front of the building and patrons are allowed to smoke in this area.
ADA rules and regulations state a space of 4 feet to 6 feet should be clear in order for wheelchairs to pass, a rule the city seems to ignore.
— Patricia A. Norman