2015-01-21 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

To Diocese: Spare MPB

A copy of this letter was received at the
Queens Gazette.
January 14, 2015
Diocese of Brooklyn
Office of the Superintendent
Mr. Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D.
310 Prospect Park West
Brooklyn, New York, 11215

Dear Mr. Chadzutko,

We write to express concern regarding the planned closure of the Most Precious Blood School in Astoria. Parents, students and community members are distressed about the planned closure and have expressed to us that they feel blindsided by the abrupt nature of the announcement. The outpouring of support for keeping the school open has been remarkable, and we wish to join our neighbors in expressing support for this beloved institution and concern over its planned closure.

As public servants we believe all of our children deserve access to a quality education and we will always fight to provide the students of western Queens with the resources they need to succeed. Most Precious Blood is a gem in our community and the thought of its closure has caused parents of nearly 200 students to worry about their children’s futures. The timing of the planned closure has exacerbated these concerns, as closing Most Precious Blood at the end of the 2014-15 school year will leave students with only a few months to find a new school.

In light of the overwhelming support the community continues to demonstrate for keeping Most Precious Blood open and the concerns we share with parents and students about the timing of the planned closure, we respectfully ask the Diocese of Brooklyn to reexamine the issue and consider any and all alternatives that could possibly preserve this beloved institution.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter and we look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
Michael N. Gianaris
State Senator, 12th District;
Costa Constantinides
Councilmember, 22nd District;
Aravella Simotas
Assemblymember, 36th District

Give MPB A Chance

A copy of this letter was received at the
Queens Gazette.
January 15, 2015
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio
Diocese of Brooklyn
310 Prospect Park West
Brooklyn, NY 11213
Re: Impending Closure of Most Precious
Blood School

Dear Bishop DiMarzio:

It is with a heavy heart that I must write this letter to you as a private citizen and a member of this community regarding the impending closing of our beloved Most Precious Blood School. As someone who was invited to sit with you in the past on panels regarding how best to continue Catholic Education in New York City, I am well aware of the standards used to determine whether to close a school – those being that the school is a drain on Diocese resources, and due to declining enrollment it will continue to be in the future. I am informed that neither of those factors is present here, as enrollment has stayed level for the last seven years, and this school makes money. I take a back seat to no one as a supporter of the Church, both in elected office and out, but this is wrong and I believe you may not have been presented with all of the relevant facts.

There is only one reason this school is being closed – the repairs necessary to both the school and the church. Yet, there has not yet been one effort made to work with the private business partners, the Landmark Conservancy, or parishioners to raise the money necessary to make these repairs. Nor has there been an effort to look at other assets, such as the parking lot, which can bring in upwards of $250,000 per year under a lease. In addition, there is already almost $500,000 saved for these repairs, which do not have to occur at one time, and may very well be able to be completed at a far lower cost than estimated. Sadly, and simply, you are closing a beloved, thriving school because it needs repairs. The message you are therefore sending to these parents, and all other potential Catholic school parents is even if you choose a well-run, thriving school, we will close it the minute it needs work, so don’t bother enrolling.

After observing the Catholic parents and children who formed the huge crowd at the recent meeting at school, it was clear by their thoughtful questions that they are well aware of the above. Quite frankly, many do not believe you could possibly close a school for the reasons your representatives stated. While some may continue in Catholic school, most won’t. The majority will never attend Mass at the church again due the way they have been treated. You are, therefore, cutting off the longtime lifeblood of the parish and hurting our children in order to save a church building which will have no parishioners.

One of your students asked at the podium, “where is your faith?”. From having worked closely with you and your team in the past, I am well aware of the tremendous faith you have and possess, and the good work you have done. The children and their parents are asking for some faith in them, and for a chance. I stand ready to help you give them that chance in any way I can. Sincerely,

Peter F. Vallone Jr.
cc: T. Chadzutko, Ed.D.
Office of the Superintendent

Help Preserve MPB

To The Editor:

I am writing hoping someone can help us...my disabled daughter is losing her school!

On Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 the parishioners of Most Precious Blood Catholic school in Astoria, were informed that our beloved school will be closing in June 2015. This came as quite a shock to us all, as the school has not had any debt in years. The pastor is sacrificing and displacing our children so that he may rent or sell the property to gain revenue to repair the church.

My disabled daughter, Angela Marfe, in the fifth grade at Most Precious Blood, has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and in addition is learning disabled. Angela has come a very long way since enrolling into Most Precious Blood. Before, she attended public school, where she was bullied to the extent that her hair was cut off. This staff and faculty at Most Precious Blood school are remarkable and for this to happen to them is a travesty beyond words.

Angela has made amazing friends, and has become incredibly social, at home and outside the home. Displacing her now would be detrimental to her continued growth. We fear she will revert back to the extreme depression, lack of motivation and socially withdrawn state. She absolutely adores and loves everyone in the school. Please, please help!

Sincerely,
Mrs. Marfe

Turmoil Within, Without

To The Editor:

The world is in turmoil. Perhaps it is just a continuation of the human condition but in this moment it is all so overpowering. Death and hatred torments us daily from all corners of the globe. The evil is a cancer that is attacking without limitation.

The sorrows in France have resonated in the streets of New York, London, Jerusalem, and elsewhere. Terrorism has gained prominence in the minds of the citizenry more so than was felt following the 9/11 attacks. The infection of fear now grips the hearts of many.

Protesters in Dresden demand the end of the Muslim presence in Germany. The extreme right wing of Germany are diverting their hatred of the Jews to Islam. The French who gladly participated with the German occupation during the Second World War in exterminating their Jewish population has come to realize the truth of the famous quote, “...then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Jew...Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Terrorist groups are strangling Yemen, Nigeria, Afghanistan, most of North Africa and the Middle East. Millions have fled their homes in Syria while ISIS pursues them by conquering large parts of Iraq. Turkey is frightened of the Kurds and is glad to stand back while Kurds die fighting the Islamic State.

In the US the Republicans have taken control of Congress. The far right wing of the party truly believes that disagreement with their beliefs defines their opponents as unpatriotic. They believe “active judges” are usurping the principles of the Founding Fathers when in fact an active judge is one who finds against their wishes.

At this moment in history the world is looking to the US for hope and leadership. Unless the political parties accept compromise, that hope is illusory. This is not the first time that the US has been called upon to temper our political divide to aid an ailing world. Let us pray that reality and patriotism overcome the political divide that has made Americans enemies to our own!

Ed Horn
Baldwin, NY

Van Bramer’s Report Card

Dear Friends,

2014 was a year of tremendous opportunity, action, and accomplishment. Once again I am proud to share our annual report card. It is the fifth edition my office has created since I’ve taken office. In it you will find an overview of significant accomplishments my office has achieved for all New Yorkers and a snapshot of our ongoing work in the 26th District.

We in the City Council started the year with renewed energy by electing new leadership and setting a bold agenda which sparked a successful 12 months marked by achievement across the city and here in the 26th District.

I was proud to have helped elect Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to lead the City Council and to have been elected majority leader by my peers. As majority leader and a leading member of the Budget Negotiating Team, I have worked with my colleagues to make progress on the issues you care about that have a real impact on the lives of all New Yorkers.

In 2014 we achieved many major victories including:

 The dramatic expansion of our paid sick leave law, which will allow hundreds of thousands more workers to take a sick day

 Creating 53,000 Universal Pre- Kindergarten seats

 The passage of the city’s new Municipal ID Program – IDNYC

 The implementation of many Vision Zero reforms to improve safety on our streets – including the “Justice for Hit-and-Run Victims Act” which I sponsored.

We also funded critical initiatives including:

 Universal free lunch for all middle school students

 Funding to keep 56 NYCHA community and senior centers open across the city

 Increased funding for libraries for the first time in six years

 Expanded access to culture and the arts as well as $23 million for arts education.

My office has helped to achieve all this without losing sight of our core strength – preserving and enhancing quality of life in our district. Our team remains as committed as ever to tackling any issue no matter how big or small. We will continue to work tirelessly on your behalf.

If my staff and I can be of any assistance, please contact my office anytime at 718-383- 9566 or email jvanbramer@council.nyc.gov and stay connected via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Jimmy Van Bramer, Majority Leader
Chair of the Cultural Affairs and Libraries
Committee
New York City Council District 26

I’m Not Charlie, But...

To The Editor:

We are not all Charlie Hebdo, at least I am not Charlie, because I do not support organizations that ridicule religions with indecent, depraved, and repulsive language and cartoons. Opposition to such filth should not, however, include murder of the members of those organizations, nor even deriving satisfaction, feeling “They got what they deserved.” In free societies people must have the opportunity to shun legally obscene trash, but not to destroy it, and to legislate what is illegal obscenity (child pornography, etc) and to set the appropriate legal penalties.

Je ne suis pas Charlie; but the law, not selfselected vigilantes, should determine what “Charlies” can and cannot do.

Leonard Lanzone
Astoria

Westway Dilemma

To The Editor:

Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Homeless Services must listen to the community:

It is the desire of the residents of the Astoria community to restore the Westway Motel at 71- 11 Astoria Boulevard to an Emergency Overnight Intake Facility and NOT a permanent shelter.

For most of the last eight years, the Westway Motel in Queens has served as an emergency overnight shelter for up to 36 families. Our local community has been supportive of this use and has respected the need to utilize the Westway in this capacity. In July of 2014, the Department of Homeless Services declared the Westway a Tier II shelter for a six-month emergency period. The fact that there is now a proposed contract between the Department of Homeless Services and Women in Need, Inc. to continue to operate a stand-alone transitional residence for homeless families at the Westway (using all 121 units for an extended, apparently indefinite basis) is detrimental to our community at large.

There are many reasons why residents of the Astoria community feel this is an unsuitable and ill-chosen location for a permanent shelter for the homeless.

The surrounding community has undertaken its fair share of the burden of providing shelter for the homeless over the last eight years. The Westway has provided emergency, overnight accommodations for individuals and families in need; there is another homeless shelter less than a mile away; and there is a third shelter within a mile and a half. The community has been asked to shoulder a disproportionate number of other burdens as well, such as LaGuardia Airport, Rikers Island, multiple power plants, and already overcrowded schools.

The Westway is located in a low-density residential neighborhood bordered by the Grand Central Parkway. Notably, the area around the Westway lacks essential services, amenities, public transportation, medical services, public parks, and recreational spaces. As the Westway is intended to be a safe-haven for children, it is troublesome that the closest major medical facility (Mount Sinai Queens) lacks an operational pediatrics unit. Additionally, one of the few local elementary schools, P.S. 84, lacks a Special Education department. Furthermore, the Westway’s proximity to the highway presents a safety hazard for children playing outside the premises. Sufficient access to playgrounds and parks is decidedly lacking, as is access to community resources (such as churches and other houses of worship) that aptly represent the diversity that the Westway would house. In order for families to seek out the resources that they require, they would need to rely upon an already overtaxed local bus system. Our community’s infrastructure simply cannot support the repurposing of the Westway.

In addition, and equally disturbing, is the fact that local residents have reported a substantial increase in petty thefts, panhandling, graffiti, and substance abusers wandering around our neighborhood over the past seven months. Prior to the Westway’s operation as a Tier II shelter (using all 121 of its units as a shelter for homeless families), this exorbitant number of incidents did not occur.

It is disturbing to hear that renovations are already underway to redesign the Westway for extended family living. This change in the use of the Westway was undertaken with no community input.

The Westway should never have been considered as a site for a permanent Tier II shelter and should revert to an overnight shelter, as originally planned.

Rudy Sarchese
President, Astoria Homeowners, Tenants, &
Business Civic Association

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