Under Cover, April 24, 2014

Waiting here, not there
Kindergarten waiting lists in the city are shorter this year even in perennially overcrowded Lower Manhattan, but Battery Park City’s P.S. 276 was not immune as 52 zoned students haven’t been offered a spot, Erica Weldon, the school’s parent coordinator, tells us.

It may be easier to find seats close to home this year compared to last, when a whopping 148 5-year-olds were initially denied seats at three Downtown schools including P.S. 276.

Last year the city, under the watchful eye of Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver’s Downtown school task force, found seats at nearby schools for all of the students who remained on the waitlist.

There was a second piece of big news about the Downtown waitlists: There wasn’t one at Tribeca’s ever popular P.S. 234 (as well as at the other Downtown schools). In another place, that might read like “dog bites man,” but many of you readers know better than that.

The last time the “guaranteed” zone kindergarten seat meant anything in Tribeca was five years ago.

We were able to get P.S. 234 principal Lisa Ripperger on the phone Tuesday — probably because she was working on a day schools were supposed to be closed for Spring Break.

She was matter-of-fact about the news.

“I’ve grown very used to waitlists,” she told us.  “We’ve always managed to work though them. …It’s not been stressful to me.”

Ripperger said she’ll have room for seven kindergarten classrooms in September compared to five last year. The space will come from the usual attrition that comes in the older elementary grades as well as from a large graduating class this June.

Traffic enforcement cars on Nassau St.

Traffic enforcement cars on Nassau St.

Traffic Cops Clogging up…
Some Financial District residents aren’t happy about a group of new neighbors around their block. But it’s not an influx of fellow residents that’s causing the trouble — it’s a fleet of Police Department vehicles clogging up several narrow streets by illegally parking in “No Standing” zones all night.

About a month ago, the N.Y.P.D.’s Traffic Enforcement Unit moved its main office to the 59 Maiden Lane tower (which also holds numerous other offices), and since then, dozens of N.Y.P.D. Traffic vans and trucks have begun crowding the adjacent roads along Nassau and John Sts. The reasoning seems to be that, since the curbside spots being taken are “No Standing” zones from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m — meaning that members of the public can’t legally use the spots during that time — they’re fair game for cops who need to leave their vehicles by the office overnight.

Or at least that’s what Luis Sanchez, the Department of Transportation’s Lower Manhattan Borough Commissioner, expressed in a recent email to Community Board 1, in which he responded to C.B. 1 complaints from Nassau St. residents and essentially said that the parking influx is fine by his office.

But one of those Nassau St. residents, David Colman, doesn’t think the N.Y.P.D. deserves a free pass on this one.

“It’s like living in a police precinct, and I just shouldn’t have to come home to this every night,” Colman told us in a phone conversation on April 22. “It’s depressing, it’s ugly, it’s dispiriting and it’s just not appealing. It looks like a crime scene, and it’s not something we should be dealing with in a neighborhood where we’re paying such high taxes to live here.”

And, he pointed out, the fact that these are traffic cops who are brazenly parking illegally just adds insult to injury.

Aside from reaching out to C.B. 1, Colman said he and several of his neighbors have also filed complaints directly with the N.Y.P.D., but haven’t gotten a response.

We reached out to the N.Y.P.D. as well, but, alas, have also been met with silence thus far. In any case, Colman and his neighbors seem to make a pretty good point — shouldn’t traffic cops be following the same parking regulations they enforce, especially when flouting those regs comes at the expense of local residents?

Happy Parking
In better parking news, the victory resident Gustavo Suarez won last month with the help of Downtown Express appears secure although things appeared in doubt last week.

Suarez had been trying for months to get someone to move the vehicles that blocked the sidewalk outside the U.S. Custom House at One Bowling Green every day, but after Downtown Express placed a call to the federal General Services Administration, the feds moved on the scofflaws and the problem seemed solved.

But last week on his regular dog walk, Suarez saw two different vehicles blocking the same sidewalk near the National Museum of the American Indian.

“It appears bad habits die hard,” Suarez told us. “Whomever is doing this — and those at the museum that are allowing it to happen  — grew accustomed to breaking the law day in and day out, seeing as they did it routinely without repercussions for over ten months.”

But to his relief and ours, it turned out to be a one-day problem.

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