The mayors word, and Downtown schools
The mayor is fighting a noble fight in a dishonorable way.
Mike Bloomberg should be fighting hard for the state to fund New York City schools fairly. The governor and the Republican-controlled State Senate have ignored court orders to rectify the inequities by increasing city aid to the tune of $5.6 billion a year. To put pressure on the state, Mayor Bloomberg is delaying 21 school projects he was planning to start this year, until the state starts paying its fair share. It is unconscionable that at least two of these projects a K-8 on Beekman St. and an annex for Tribecas P.S. 234 and probably many more, are on this list.
A year ago, Bloomberg said he was fulfilling a promise to Downtown residents with the Beekman St. school. The P.S. 234 annex is linked to a sale of city land to private developers. The City Council and Community Board 1 supported the sale primarily because of the school projects.
Now that the land sales have been approved and the mayor has been reelected, he is bringing a new issue to the deal increased state funding. In order to get the City Council to approve the Site 5C plan, Dep. Mayor Daniel Doctoroff signed a letter in which he said there was $44 million available for the school now slated for Beekman St., and that the P.S. 234 annex would open at the same time as the Site 5B development. Bloomberg is going to a groundbreaking for developer Ed Minskoffs Site 5B project Thursday while he is blocking the school annex that he promised to build simultaneously with 5B.
The mayor staged public appearances for both school projects and never hinted that he couldnt do them without more state money.
We understand why City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has joined the mayors push for more state money, but she has made a mistake by endorsing the strategy. She undermines the institution she is supposed to protect the City Council if she allows the mayor to renege on the deals he made to get council approval.
The strongest sign of Lower Manhattans recovery is that it continues to be the fastest growing part of the city and the mayors action is an attack on this strength because it blocks the most important necessity needed to support all of these new residents adequate schooling. The crowding problem at P.S. 234 will get worse each year the mayor delays the annex. The delays also feed into the growing feeling of drifting and delay in Downtowns redevelopment.
The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation has pledged $20 million for the Beekman St. school, and even though the agency reiterated its support for the school this week, it is never a good idea to leave government money unspent.
This is not a NIMBY argument. We think many, if not all of the school projects, probably should go forward since the city said they had the money to build them before it had any promises from the state. The Downtown projects should go forward without question because they were part of a negotiated deal connected to city land sales; the mayor made specific, public promises that he had the money; they are intimately linked to Downtowns recovery from the attack on America; and they are desperately needed.
You cant fight the good fight by breaking your word.