Volume 19 • Issue 20 | Sept. 29 - Oct. 5, 2006

Letters to the editor

P.S. 89’s getting crowded

To The Editor:
Re “Room at P.S. 89” (Letters Sept. 8 – 14):

I have been a resident of Battery Park City for 18 years and have sent all three of my children to P.S. 89 at one point or another over the years since it’s opening in 1998. My daughter, Marina, is currently in the fifth grade. 

What we know:  P.S. 89 is a wonderful school that has offered a solid, well rounded education to the children of Battery Park City. As mentioned in previous articles, P.S. 89’s capacity was originally three classes per grades K-5.  This year because of the population explosion Downtown, the school had no choice but to open a fourth kindergarten and a fourth first grade class to alleviate the overcrowding issue in those classes. Some rooms had to be moved, etc., to accommodate the additions but thankfully no enrichment programs had to be eliminated. 

This is all fine for the moment, but there are still five more buildings yet to be occupied and/or built in the neighborhood.  Just because the school is not listed at capacity according to the Department of Education standards, that doesn’t mean that we should bury our heads in the sand and hope that everything will work itself out.   Over capacity is going to be here very soon.  This is not an opinion but a fact.  The D.O.E. should be more proactive and not so reactive in addressing the needs of the community and to what is sure to be a dire situation when there will not be enough physical space in the building to accommodate all the classes and all the amazing enrichment programs and the Pre-K program (that is not mandatory) that the school now offers.

New schools need to be built in order to give our children the education they deserve.  An enormous collaborative effort has to be made among the families in the neighborhood, the existing school administration, the Department of Education, the Battery Park City Authority, local politicians and local developers to address this very serious issue.  After all, it does take a village....

Maria Ouranitsas
Former president, P.S. 89 P.T.A. 

Safety is a 2-way street

To The Editor:
I would like to respond to two letters you published that complained about cycling legislation and bike safety (Letters, Sept. 22 – 28, “Cycling waste” and “Biker problems”). Having been a cyclist as well as a pedestrian for over 20 years in the city, I also have complaints. I can complain about pedestrians who march into the crosswalk against the light and steer my bike into potholes, and about the joggers and walkers who dangerously clog the bikeway along the West Side Highway.

We all want safer streets. But the complaints of the letter writers in your last issue were misguided. To say that unwarranted money and attention are placed on cyclists is shortsighted and uninformed. I can assure you that millions more in taxpayer dollars are spent on accommodating four-wheeled behemoths in this city. These vehicles are not only more deadly in their unfortunate encounters with pedestrians, but also infringe on the quality of life and health of the average New Yorker in the amount of noise and pollution that is spewed everyday.

Sadly, most of the people I talk to would love to ride their bikes in the city, but they feel that they would be endangering their lives in the process. The installation of more bike lanes will encourage more ridership, and ultimately produce safer and less polluted city streets.

Unfortunately, even with more bike lanes, cyclists may still be subjected to cars that use the lane to double park. Without enforcement by the city to keep cars off of bike lanes, cyclists will continue to be pushed into moving traffic. It is imperative that the city enforce these rules and live up to the promise of safer streets. Perhaps we could look forward to a day when bikes will have a lane of their own throughout the city, and ultimately, pedestrians and cyclists will learn to respect one another.

Jack Cadwallader

Bikes over taxis

To The Editor:
Re “City rolls out plan to add miles of bike lanes Downtown” and “More bike lanes are a great start” (News article, editorial Sept. 22 – 28):

I applaud and support the creation of more bike lanes in Lower Manhattan, but the fact is that it will reduce the space reserved for cars and thus create more traffic congestion.  Having worked here for some time now, I think much of the congestion is due to the proliferation of taxis, most of which are taking one person at a time to or from work, between meetings in buildings other than their own, or even to and from lunch.

With so many subways and buses, including the free buses offered by the Downtown Alliance, and so many restaurants, there is really no need for anyone who can walk and is at all skilled at managing time to take a taxi to do any of these.  Further, since energy conservation and independence remain hot-button issues, to say nothing of staying in shape, the increased use of both bicycles and mass transit would definitely be welcome.

It is no less than utterly selfish to insist on individual chauffeuring, whether at morning rush, evening rush or in between. At the very least, let me suggest that if you must take a taxi, take someone else with you, if only to split the recently-increased fare.

J. Andrew Smith
Bloomfield, N.J.

Broad support

To The Editor:
Re “Paul Goldstein, Downtown’s district manager, steps down” (news article, Sept. 22 – 28):

I believe that your article on the resignation of Paul Goldstein as district manager of Community Board 1 painted an inaccurate portrait of the current state of the board under the leadership of Julie Menin. You quote unnamed board members to suggest that there is a “tremendous civil war on the board” and a “tense atmosphere” with former leaders of the organization being “left on the sidelines.” While a few board members may feel this way based on what they told your reporter, it is clear to me that a strong majority of the board approves of both the substance and the style of Menin’s leadership.

It is extremely unfortunate that former C.B.1 chairperson Madelyn Wils was not allowed to finish out her term of office by former Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields. At the time, I joined many other members of C.B.1 in signing a letter to Fields seeking to head off this action. I have not changed my mind regarding the impropriety of Fields’ action in removing Wils. Given the outcome, however, I believe that C.B.1 and the community were extremely fortunate that a leader with the skills and the energy of Menin was available and willing to step in to fill the void. While there is a great deal of difference in the leadership styles of Wils and Menin, I do not believe that their substantive views have been all that different.

It should not have come as a surprise to anyone that a strong hands-on leader like Menin would want to install her own leadership team to carry out her program, and it was equally predictable that this would lead to some unhappiness on the part of some of those individuals who were replaced as committee chairs or officers. My guess is that some of these same people will once again find themselves back in board leadership roles in the future if they continue to participate constructively in the board’s work.

Based on 40 years of volunteer activity in a number of organizations at both the local and national levels, I can testify that every such organization that I have ever participated in for any length of time has experienced personal conflicts to some degree. On most key matters of concern to Lower Manhattan, members of C.B.1 share common interests. This is why the personal issues described in your article, while irritating to the people involved, are not all that serious from a “big picture” viewpoint and will not prevent C.B.1 from successfully addressing the critical issues facing Lower Manhattan in the years ahead.

Bill Love

Health omission

To The Editor:
Thank you for printing the full page ad “Affected But Neglected: the Impact of 9/11 on Community Health and a Call for Federal Action” (Advertisement, Sept. 1 - 7).

On September 7, 2006, St. Paul’s Chapel was packed with over 300 people who were concerned about the environmental impact of 9/11 on their health. These included residents, office workers, students and concerned parents. Science and medical experts from the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, Bellevue and Mount Sinai treatment centers presented their findings. Elected officials spoke out. Dr. John Howard, the new 9/11 health commissioner, was there to listen to them and to hear comments from the audience.

I was disappointed that there was no article about this town hall forum in the Downtown Express. This was an important local event and I don’t understand why it wasn’t covered here. While I appreciate your coverage of this subject in the past I consider this omission a serious lapse.

Diane F. Stein
Member of the Independence Plaza North Tenants Association Environmental Committee

Letters policy

Downtown Express welcomes letters to The Editor. They must include the writer’s first and last name, a phone number for confirmation purposes only, and any affiliation that relates directly to the letter’s subject matter. Letters should be less than 300 words. Downtown Express reserves the right to edit letters for space, clarity, civility or libel reasons. Letters should be e-mailed to or can be mailed to 145 Sixth Ave., N.Y., N.Y. 10013.


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