downtownexpress.com
Volume 19 Issue 33 | Dec. 29, 2006 - Jan. 4, 2007

Letters to the Editor

Fiterman hope

To The Editor:
I am writing in reference to your recent editorial entitled “Pataki’s Downtown legacy” (Dec. 22 - 28). While you correctly point out that, under Governor Pataki’s leadership, “deadlines to demolish the former Deutsche Bank building and Fiterman Hall were missed” the editorial goes on to say that “the Fiterman project’s beginning remains in doubt.” I am rather hopeful that this is not the case.

Earlier this fall, I convened several meetings in my office with the key players involved in the demolition of Fiterman Hall. They included the chancellor of CUNY (which owns the building), officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (which must approve all plans), as well as the chairperson of Community Board 1 and our other local elected officials. I am pleased to report that this project is now squarely back on track and CUNY is now working closely with E.P.A. officials on finalizing a plan to deconstruct the Fiterman Hall building. I believe that we have used these meetings to convince both CUNY and the E.P.A. of the importance of moving this project forward in an expeditious manner and to also do so in a way that insures the safety of local residents and workers. I am also overseeing the creation of a Fiterman Hall Community Advisory Committee to work closely with CUNY, E.P.A. and others involved in this project to insure that the community is fully involved with and informed of all the plans.

It is unfortunate that Governor Pataki’s “leadership,” or lack thereof, resulted in the sad series of delays which have plagued the World Trade Center rebuilding efforts. I am very hopeful, however, that we will now be able to get this most important rebuilding project moving steadily forward so that Lower Manhattan can retain its status as not only the financial capital of the world but also as one of the best neighborhoods in which to live.

Sheldon Silver
Speaker of the state Assembly


Other class needs help

To The Editor:
Thank you for Skye H. McFarlane’s well-researched article “City: P.S. 89 building has room, classes are crowded” (news article, Dec. 8 – 14). Our family moved into P.S. 89’s zoned area because we wanted a public school that didn’t have overcrowded classrooms. Our older daughter graduated P.S. 89 in 2005 and benefited from the educational attention small classes at P.S. 89 afforded her. Our younger daughter, who has been at P.S. 89 since kindergarten, has also benefited from small classes. This year, as a fourth grader, she is in the largest class she has ever experienced at P.S. 89 with over 30 children. It is a class which mainstreams children with special needs, and has two full-time certified teachers, plus a paraprofessional. The teacher resources in this classroom have enabled effective education.

P.S. 89’s other fourth grade class currently has 34 students and one teacher. Parents are awaiting a decision on their request for a second certified teacher in that classroom. Based on an analysis by the Downtown Express of the Department of Education’s class size data, P.S. 89 has the third most crowded fourth grade class in the entire city. Given the relatively large class size of P.S. 89’s fourth grade class, the parents’ request for more teaching resources is both reasonable and equitable.

The area zoned for P.S. 89 is undergoing unprecedented residential growth. Our school was designed to have three classes per grade, but this school year a fourth kindergarten and first grade class were added. Parents know that when something is added, something else is taken away. In an ideal world, public schools would have small class sizes and dedicated enrichment classrooms. Going forward, P.S. 89 may not be able to afford the luxury of dedicated enrichment rooms. Our priority is the effective education that comes with low student to teacher ratios. This can be achieved by adding classes or by adding teacher resources into a large classroom. I trust P.S. 89 will find a way to bring an additional teacher into the third most crowded classroom in all of N.Y.C. The children deserve no less.

Joe Lombardi



Gerson’s record

To The Editor:
I am writing in response to the unprovoked attack on our finest councilmember, Alan Gerson, by David Stanke in Downtown Express (Talking Point, Dec. 15 – 21, “Hey Alan, you represent me and my neighbors”).

The only agreement point that Mr. Stanke and myself have in common is our need to move along as quickly as possible with the rebuilding and the Trade Center site. His article reads far more like a campaign ad in the worst spirit. Perhaps Mr. Stanke plans on running for office. 

Even before his election, Mr. Gerson came to the aid of Southbridge residents in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. As a member of the board of directors of S.B.T., I reached out to him for all kinds of help with regard to food, water, power, medical support, etc. He came through for us every time. Mr. Gerson was responsible for financial assistance offered from both the Red Cross and Safe Horizons when S.B.T. residents were initially forgotten by those entities. He saw to it that both agencies were johnny on the spot for our people.

The councilmember has been and continues to be a staunch supporter of youth and education issues. He allocated $1 million for the creation of Millennium High School, has worked tirelessly for the creation of the Beekman St. school and our upcoming community center at site 5C.

Time prevents me from listing all of the contributions the councilmember has made on behalf of our residents. I volunteer my personal time to chair a resident advisory committee for him. He has been and will always be one of our strongest allies in government.

Paul Hovitz
Chairperson of Community Board 1’s Youth & Education Committee


To The Editor:
The responses to my recently published criticism of Alan Gerson’s performance as a city councilmember are interesting (Letters, Dec. 22 – 28, “Praising Gerson”).  I would never go so far as to claim that Mr. Gerson has done nothing for the neighborhood. But in the aftermath of 9/11, money literally poured into the neighborhoods for a variety of reasons. It was simply a matter of directing it. Two of the three letters praising Gerson were from people who benefited substantially from post-9/11 money.  Nothing against the institutions or people who wrote the letters or the subsidies they received, but I’m not surprised that they might be pleased with the situation. Meanwhile, the baseball fields are being shrunk barely to the point of usability and the grass surfaces can not stand up to the play they take. Instead of bashing the mayor about 9/11 family issues, Gerson should be bashing the Battery Park City Authority to get real on parks. The point is that he is misdirecting his efforts, and not wielding a hammer where it is needed. Government officials need to be constantly focused on supporting their electorate, and not only when it is easy.

Dave Stanke


Southbridge views

To The Editor:
Rosemarie Ferrara in last week’s Downtown Express says that my letter referencing Co-op Village was “fraught with misinformation,” yet hers contains a number of inaccuracies, from the name of the pro-Mitchell-Lama group at Southbridge (Southbridge Cooperators for Mitchell-Lama), to Ms. Ferrara’s statement that “Southbridge’s maintenance has risen 40 percent in a four-year span” (Dec. 15 – 21). This doesn’t agree with the data given us by the management office, which is that there were two 15 percent raises in maintenance over the last four years, with no raises for the previous nine. In fact, Southbridge has averaged only a 3.7 percent increase over the last 20 years.

In response to my citation of the message boards for Co-op Village as a good source of independent evidence for some of the pitfalls of privatization (http://p076.ezboard.com/fcoopvillageonlinecommunityfrm8), Ms. Ferrara gives a Web address (sphc.net). This is simply the official Web site for Seward Park, a mechanism for selling apartments. It doesn’t give a picture of what the residents really think.

She catalogs the amenities Seward Park is investing in, “all at no additional cost to the cooperators.” The cooperators of Seward Park would certainly consider the raising of the flip taxes to be additional costs. This also demonstrates the split between the new, wealthier cooperators and the pre-privatization residents; the new ones prefer lower flip taxes and higher maintenance. One poster expresses the sentiment that it’s the duty of the pre-privatization residents to get reverse mortgages to pay for the increased maintenance that will keep the flip tax low.

Finally, since some of us will stay in our apartments, if possible, for decades to come, the yearly turnover will include those that flip multiple times (for a mere 2 percent flip tax) while others don’t turn at all. Ms. Ferrara’s figure of a 5 percent turnover being profitable does not take this into account.

Kathryn Keppler


To The Editor:
Regarding Rosemarie Ferrara’s answer to Kathryn Keppler’s “Northern Exposure” letter (Letters Dec. 15 – 21 and Dec. 8 – 14):

I must applaud Ms. Ferrara for laying out each point succinctly as apposed to the raving on, and untruths told by the anti-privatization people. I also have relatives at Seward Park who are now living luxurious lives. Why not take a bus ride and visit the area and talk to tenants.

Kudos to Downtown Express for letting all our feelings be heard.

Gloria Gallowitz


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 news@DowntownExpress.com or can be mailed to 145 Sixth Ave., N.Y., N.Y. 10013.

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