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Make children our priority
To the Editor,
Re “Keep child care alive” (Talking Point, May 16):
Council Member Margaret Chin states, “Due to such draconian cuts in the mayor’s executive budget — O.S.T. alone is underfunded by nearly $20 million — even targeted zip codes in Lower Manhattan face extreme service cuts. Inexplicably, almost all of the programs to be cut this year have long histories of full enrollment and have demonstrated the demand for their services.”
Council Member Chin’s assessment of the disastrous manner in which these budget cuts will affect families in Lower Manhattan is most appropriate. Indeed, Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s proposed budget will be disastrous for families citywide.
The fact is that working parents need quality care for their children once school lets out. Some parents are able to bear the substantial costs, but many others cannot. Investing in after-school care for these families is not only an investment in the children of our city, it’s an investment in the future of our city.
After-school is a place where many children find their self-esteem. After-school programs for middle school children, especially, engage kids at a crucial point in their development and allow them to indulge in safe, healthy and productive activities. My organization, Manhattan Youth, offers a host of interest areas at our free after-school program at I.S. 289, including theater, film-making, cultural arts, music and robotics, as well as leadership development activities, including sports and restaurant management. We also have an extensive inter-school athletics program that offers swimming, baseball, football, soccer, basketball and cross-country running.
Between our elementary and middle school after-school programs, Manhattan Youth offers upwards of 200 different activities each week. As schools increasingly become labs for test-taking, children and parents are becoming increasingly dependent on these out-of-classroom activities to shape their children into well-rounded human beings.
Even while most people acknowledge the importance of out-of-classroom engagement in childhood development, community-based after-school and other child care programs have not seen budget increases in many years. Our city is constantly engaged in revenue-increasing initiatives — projects that dwarf the $70 million set to be cut from after-school and other child care programs — yet this money is rarely directed to our children.
This year’s proposed $70 million budget cut to children’s services is an alarming move in the wrong direction for a city with as many resources as ours.
The party line for city officials in recent years has been that cuts to children’s services are an unavoidable result of the economic downturn. Children services advocates will readily acknowledge that our city’s resources are not unlimited; we need our elected officials to realize that some extravagant capital projects can be deferred during lean years, whereas our children’s growth and development cannot be postponed even for an instant.
It is time for the city to make our children a top priority.
Manhattan Youth founder and executive director
Hudson River Park Trust wants to ‘milk’ Pier 40
To the Editor,
Re “Residential could save Pier 40, new study finds” (news article, May 16):
As an experienced architect, I believe the $100 million required renovation estimate for the pier is a complete fiction. This seems a scare tactic to force decisions upon our community. Pier 40 generates 40 percent of Hudson River Park’s revenue and the Trust needs $200 million to finish the Park. There you have it!
Pier 40 is a potential cash cow for the Trust, to be leveraged to pay for the rest of the park. The pier needs work, but I haven’t seen any indication it’s about to fall into the river. I believe they just want to get our kids and cars out so they can make more money off of Pier 40.
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