Volume 19 Issue 40 | February 16 - 22, 2007

Letters to the editor

L.I.R.R. yes, J.F.K. no

To The Editor:
There are two, very simple, but very important ways to make the M.T.A./Long Island Rail Road connection to Lower Manhattan more attractive to all and less expensive (news article, Feb. 9 - 15, “Even with $2B, rail link remains in doubt”).  Right now, most Long Island commuters and many elected officials and transit advocates are against the project because it is too expensive, too complex, and does not properly serve Long Island and eastern Queens commuters.

First, there must be a one-seat ride to Lower Manhattan for the estimated 110,000 daily commuters from Long Island and eastern Queens.  Some say the current plan may even eliminate existing commuter rail service to Flatbush Avenue Terminal, where thousands of commuters each hour transfer to subways to Lower Manhattan.

Secondly, there must not be an extension of the current AirTrain technology onto the Atlantic Avenue commuter rail corridor or toward Lower Manhattan.  It would be exceedingly costly and would have deleterious effects on commuter rail service.  Projected ridership on the airport service is less than 30,000 passengers per day and the expense is not justified.

The L.I.R.R. and AirTrain use different technologies and the floor heights of the vehicles are different.  Extending the AirTrain along Atlantic Avenue would actually be almost as costly as building a whole, new rail line along Atlantic Avenue.

These two types of rail systems have different safety standards and are regulated by different federal agencies.  It is unlikely that the U.S. Department of Transportation will change any rules since it would be unsafe to allow light rail vehicles on track used by heavy rail.

To avoid the complexity and cost of a hybrid system, some plans would eliminate commuter rail service on Atlantic Avenue.  This would alienate thousands of Long Island commuters and force them either to drive or seek jobs outside of Lower Manhattan.

We support the digging of a new tunnel to Lower Manhattan because we do not want to reduce any of the current subway capacity between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The M.T.A./Long Island Rail Road commuter rail service must be extended to Lower Manhattan to reduce traffic congestion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as to ensure the future development of Lower Manhattan.
 Patrick M. Centolanzi, P.E.
Chairperson of the Sierra Club’s Transportation Committee

Small sacrifice for annex

To The Editor:
Re “Don’t sacrifice the rec center for desperately-needed school” (Talking Point, Feb. 2 – 8):

Angela Benfield makes many great points, but a few things need some clarification. The community center is not in jeopardy of being lost. Rather, a dialogue is opening about how the facility can best be used to address the community’s needs. Swimming pools and gathering places are great. We are lucky that we don’t have to give that up. Many have expressed a desire to use a bit of the space as a school annex so the children of our community can have appropriate space for their basic education needs in a community that is facing serious overcrowding in the zoned public elementary schools.

A P.S. 89 annex is proposed for the community center that would only take 10,000 square feet, or 20 percent of the planned 50,000-square-foot space, and would alleviate the overcrowding a bit. This space is almost equal to only one of the two proposed swimming pools.

It is also a much smaller sacrifice proportionally than was necessary to create the P.S. 234 annex, where 10,000 of 35,000 square feet was dedicated to the annex. In the end, the Battery Park City community center will still be bigger than what was originally planned for the Tribeca community center.

The P.S. 89 annex is needed in addition to the school proposed for the museum site, which currently seems more likely to be a zoned middle school and which we also need. The Dept. of Education may consider them for the same reasons it is building the P.S. 234 annex and Beekman St. school simultaneously. Our community is facing an overwhelming need as one of the fastest growing residential areas in the city. Although two sites being discussed are located in B.P.C., they would likely serve areas outside B.P.C., just as P.S. 89 does.

Although making decisions about the community center will involve some compromises, I am hopeful that our leaders are willing to make decisions that strengthen the community and respect its competing needs.
Jennifer J.H. Contegiacomo
Parent of a P.S. 89 pre-K student

Ice field idea

To The Editor:
Re “End the turf war with turf fields” (Talking Point, Feb. 2 – 8) and “Yes to turf” (Letters, Feb. 9 –15):
Perhaps the discussions about the ballfields should not be about grass versus artificial turf, but about finding an appropriate use for the fields during the winter. Even with artificial turf, I doubt that the fields would get much use in the coldest months. An ice skating rink, however, could be used by many more people during more of the time when the fields are vacant. The skating rink sponsored by Citibank at Bryant Park, which is installed over the grass, has become a hugely popular destination in the two seasons that it has been in existence, and is in use from 8 in the morning until late at night seven days a week. If a sponsor could be found for a similar amenity here, this bleak underutilized space could become a popular neighborhood winter spot.
JoAnne Chernow

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