Volume 18 • Issue 41 | February 24 - March 2, 2006

Letters to the Editor

Mayor’s costly decision

To The Editor:
Re “Don’t use school children as pawns” (editorial, Feb. 10 —16):

I am a resident of Southbridge Towers, with a 6-year-old son. He is currently in the first grade at a Catholic school in the Village — as you know, all the public schools in our area are overflowing (especially in my son’s age group). Looking long-term, the news of a school so close to us and in the very near future, enabled me to justify spending the tuition money for grade school now (you cannot imagine the cost of a Catholic high school in Manhattan — unbelievable) with the knowledge that I will be able to send him to the new school and save for his high school education.

How disappointing and disheartening to hear of the mayor’s removal of the monies to enable the new school to be built (news article, Feb. 10 — 16, “Mayor cuts funds for new schools”).

We just received an internal memo from Southbridge restating what you’ve reported and asking us to write the mayor advising our dismay in his decision.

I very much enjoy the Downtown Express and encourage you to keep up the good work.

Laurie Stallone

Sink the gondola

To The Editor:
To the litany of boondoggles proposed for Lower Manhattan in the aftermath of 9/11 — the West St. tunnel, the Libeskind death pit, etc. — we can now add one more:  Mayor Bloomberg’s “aerial gondola” system for Governors Island (news article, Feb. 17 — 23, “That’s 125 million dollars, not lira for this island gondola”).  For a mere $125 million in taxpayer funds, the mayor proposes to string a spider-web-like network of ski lifts across New York Harbor, forever marring one of the most scenic vistas in the world — the grouping of Lower Manhattan towers encircled by water. 

The proposal is so asinine, so incomprehensible from any aesthetic or economic standpoint, that the only way to comprehend it is as part of the mayor’s larger war on Downtown redevelopment.  Witness that, while for years he pursued his stadium fantasy, the mayor left us at the mercy of our governor up in Albany, a man who in turn made it clear that the only voices he was concerned with were those political demagogues claiming to speak for the families of the victims — community be damned.  Indeed, the mayor has cared so little for us down here that for four and a half years, he has not lifted a finger to make the City University of New York tear down the ruined Fiterman Hall.  Nor has he undertaken any effort to complete the renovation of historic, city-owned Pier A, which has been boarded-up for several decades. And he intends to siphon off the $4 billion of Liberty Bonds that Congress and the American people entrusted in him to rebuild the World Trade Center site, and instead use it off for projects in other parts of town more to his liking.

Indeed, to the extent Mayor Bloomberg has paid any attention to Lower Manhattan redevelopment at all, it has only been to impede the process, not encourage it.  How else can one explain the mayor’s insatiable need to harass the one man who is building anything Downtown, Larry Silverstein?  Or the Mayor’s decision to inflict upon us his dim-witted lieutenant, Amanda Burden, who apparently believes that the fate of the World Trade Center site hinges on the restoration of one-half block of teeny-tiny Cortlandt St.?  Or the mayor’s most recent decision to cut off funding for two new, desperately needed public schools for our community?

On December 12, 2002, the Mayor gave a major policy speech in which he first addressed the future of post-9/11 Downtown.  His answer to the problems besetting our community at that time?  A hydroponic garden on the East River.  In the ensuing 38 months, much has changed down here.  The area has become a beehive of activity, at least in all the building sites not controlled by the mayor.  And yet, we local residents still are forced to eat tomatoes grown exclusively from God’s green earth, and not from a giant greenhouse floating off an East River pier.  I propose that, before the Mayor embarks on his latest scheme for Lower Manhattan, he first see his last one through to completion.  Once we all have hydroponic fruits and vegetables on our dinner tables, then the mayor can come back and tell us about aerial gondolas.  Until then, he should just shut up and leave us all alone.
John Dellaportas

Island waste

To The Editor:
“That’s 125 million dollars, not lira for this island gondola” by Josh Rogers (news article, Feb, 17-23) was informative, but missed another side of the story concerning Governors Island. 

The federal government sold the island in 2003 to the city and state for $1. The federal General Services Administration estimated value of Governors Island was $500 million.  Had G.S.A. put this site up for public auction, private developers may have bid $1 billion or more.

Those revenues could have been used toward reducing our $7 trillion national debt or balancing our federal fiscal year ‘06 budget deficit of over $400 billion.

Proceeds could have also been used to provide badly needed federal assistance to New York City and New York State.  These dollars could have supported capital improvements for other projects which could have benefited residents.   

Both Albany and City Hall face their own multi-billion deficits and long-term debt.  Between local bureaucratic rules and regulations, no consensus on what to do — New Yorkers may end up waiting until the end of this decade for any beneficial use of Governors Island.  Despite spending over $120 million in City and State funds to date for infrastructure improvements, taxpayers have seen no real changes.

It would have been a better deal to turn this site over to the private sector years ago.  A private developer like Donald Trump would invest his own monies, resulting in a significant number of construction jobs during conversion.  Creation of new businesses would have provided permanent employment opportunities, which would be good news to some of the five percent of fellow New Yorkers who are still out of work.  New tax revenue streams could be generated by both companies and employees.

While native Americans were robbed when they sold Manhattan Island, we taxpayers are being scalped on this transaction today.
Larry Penner
Great Neck, N.Y. 

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