2017-06-07 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Gazette Celebrates 35th Birthday!!

Time flies! Seems like yesterday the Western Queens Gazette came on the scene in Long Island City and Astoria, where residents avidly greeted it. Local weekly newspapers are a fixture in so many areas of Queens and elsewhere, where they fill an important need. In no time, Astorians and Long Island City dwellers were looking forward to their weekly delivery of the Gazette, to find out what was going on in their neck of the woods. That was 35 years ago, but for the present staff they’re enthusiastically getting out a bright, new edition week after week, and making each week a winning one. And from all indications our readers like what they see.

So here’s to year 36 in the Gazette’s lifetime. May our readers continue enjoying each week’s edition as much as we enjoy putting it out. Salute!!

—John Toscano

Heed Community

To The Editor:

The drive to reclaim PS 130 (200-01 42nd Avenue) for the use by local children continues. This school, geographically in District 26, is currently used by mostly District 25 students enrolled in a special program of science and technology. In the meantime, students who live within walking distance of this school are basically shut out and are transported to other overcrowded schools in District 26.

This September, grades 4 and 5 will be added to the PS 130 program. The school is currently operating over capacity. Where will they be putting these additional students? In the meantime, a new school, PS 376, will be opening on the former Keil property this fall. But the plan is only to start out with kindergarten classes in this huge building. The following school year, another grade will be added, and so on, until grades K through 5 are in the building during the 2022-2023 school year. Is this an efficient way to utilize this building, when most elementary schools in District 26 are bursting at the seams?

The solution that the Auburndale Improvement Association is suggesting is to transfer the current PS 130 program to the new school, where there will be adequate room for all of the grades, K-5. Perhaps there will be room for some District 26 students to also attend the excellent program being offered. Then return PS 130 for use by the local neighborhood children who will be able to walk to their school. This will decrease enrollment in overcrowded PS 31, 159 and 162, which currently are feeder schools for those children who would normally be attending PS 130.

The Auburndale Improvement Association has submitted their idea to the Schools Chancellor. We have been told that the idea is not viable, but no concrete reasons have been given why this plan is not viable. We have submitted hundreds of petition signatures with comments to the Chancellor demanding the return of PS 130 for use by local children. Two sets went out, one in 2013 and another in 2016. Copies also went to the Superintendents of District 25 and 26 and elected officials. The answer from on high at the DOE is always no. The last response we received came from an assistant to the Chancellor, who was not even aware that the school had been a District 26 school for over 50 years before it was taken over by District 25.

Momentum is moving toward realization of our goal, despite the avoidance by the Chancellor All three local elected officials (Senator Avella, Assemblyman Braunstein, Councilman Vallone) have written letters supporting our goal. Community Board 11 voted unanimously to write a letter to the Chancellor asking for the return of the school to local District 26 students. So has the Queens Civic Congress, the umbrella organization representing close to 100 civic and community organizations in Queens County.

With all due respect, we cannot understand why the Superintendent of District 26 is not fighting for the return of PS 130 to District 26, when so many of the elementary schools in her district are overcrowded. The Superintendent of District 25 should also be more proactive in fighting for new schools in her district where overcrowding is also commonplace. Perhaps it is just easier for them to accept the status quo.

Our goal is to ensure that all children in our area have a quality education in their own neighborhood. When you see children waiting for a school bus in all kinds of weather, when they could just walk a few blocks to their local school, it just doesn’t make sense. Decisions are being made by people in high places, who are not in touch with the concerns of our area.

We have waited for many years for the return of PS 130 to the local community. We may have to wait a little longer, but we will never give up until this outrageous inequity is corrected.

Terri Pouymari, President
Henry Euler, First Vice President
Auburndale Improvement Association

Fix Before Expanding

To The Editor:

It will take more money and a change in priorities if the Metropolitan Transportation Authority “Mass Transit Should Take Front Seat” (Editorial, May 31) becomes a reality. Governor Andrew Cuomo should come up with the outstanding balance of $5.8 billion that he still owes toward the $8.3 billion shortfall to fully fund the $32 billion 2015-2019 MTA Five Year Capital Plan. Mayor Bill de Blasio should deliver the balance of $2.5 billion which he also pledged to finance the same plan. Perhaps it is time for the MTA and NYCDOT to stop wasting millions of dollars on transportation feasibility studies for future system expansion projects costing billions that will never happen on our lifetime. Do not initiate any new system expansion projects until the MTA and each operating agency, including New York City Transit bus and subway, MTA bus, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad have reached a state of good repair for existing fleet, stations, signals, interlockings, track, power, yards and shops. Ensure that maintenance programs for all MTA operating agencies assets are fully funded and completed on time to ensure riders reliable service.

Starting in 1981, under past MTA Five Year Capital Plans, both the city and state collectively cut billions of their own respective financial contributions. They repeatedly had the MTA refinance or borrow funds to acquire scarce capital funding formerly made up by hard cash from both City Hall and Albany. On a bipartisan basis, this included past Governors Mario Cuomo (Dem), George Pataki (GOP), Elliot Spitzer (Dem) and David Patterson (Dem). Governor Andrew Cuomo (Dem) continues to “honor” this practice. His amendment to increase the MTA $29 billion MTA Five Year 2015-2019 Capital Program Plan by $3 billion to $32 billion is financed by increasing longterm MTA debt to $1.6 billion. This was approved by the MTA Board, but still requires approval by the Albany MTA Capital Program Review Board. That body is made up of one representative each, from the governor, mayor, state assembly speaker and State Senate majority leader. All Cuomo has done is restore the $3 billion cut from the original proposed $32 billion MTA Five Year Capital Plan from 2015. Most dollars, including $1.5 billion for LIRR Main Line Third Track and $700 million for Second Avenue Subway Phase Two, are going toward system expansion projects versus solving more critical state of good repair projects and programs today.

Too many career politicians for over 36 years have insisted that the MTA continue financing more and more of the Capital Program by borrowing. This is no different today. As a result, 17% of the annual MTA budget goes for covering the costs of debt service payments. By the next MTA Five Year 2020 - 2024 Capital Program Plan, it will grow closer to 20%. This means less money is available for operations to provide more frequent and safe service to riders. It also means there is less money just to maintain the state of good repair, safety and basic day-to-day service that riders desire.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

Accord Is Critical

To The Editor:

I am elated that the Anti-Crime officers were honored at the 114th Precinct Community Council meeting. They deserve recognition – all police do – for being in harm’s way as a first responder and protecting us. I am also proud that Mr. McManus was honored with a wreath placed in his honor and a park named after him. Vietnam Veterans who risked their lives in a so-called unpopular war were not given proper recognition and honored as were the veterans of other wars.

It is a shame that this Russian meddling in our presidential election still continues. This distracts our country from doing what is necessary, such as health care, and other important things.

Sad to say, our nation should not be withdrawing from the climate change accord. Our city, New York, is in danger if this is done. Our environment is changing, and shame on Trump, a native New Yorker, who does not care for his city, his country or for the world.

I applaud the different color markings that are spray painted on the streets to inform us that work is being done and that is a safety precaution, to prevent gas lines from exploding.

In addition, backpacks must be inspected by parents prior to the children going to school and also by the entrance to the building. What is a child doing with a BB gun in class? What would happen if it were a real gun or something that would harm other children? Schools must be safe places for both teachers and children and other school workers.

Also, it is a sad state of affairs that transportation systems are a mess with derailments, overcrowding, late buses, late trains, and infrastructure that is very very old and needs fixing. The highways are so crowded – it took me almost 50 minutes to go from Little Neck to Astoria this morning.

I like the idea of having Vision Zero mapped out. That is for pedestrian safety, which is truly important, to save lives.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

Fighting The Diocese

To The Editor:

Parents at Middle Village Prep Charter School in Queens have started a Twitter account for their efforts to get the Brooklyn Diocese to stop its attempt to have the school evicted from its space at Christ the King High School. The Diocese’s attorneys have demanded that the charter move out after this school year. It’s part of a dispute between the Diocese and Christ the King, a Catholic school run independently of the Diocese. As a historical note, Christ the King was saved by parents 40 years ago, after the Diocese decided to close the school.

Here are a few stories on the issue:

•Daily News: www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/brooklyn-diocese-boot-non-catholic...

Channel 7 Eyewitness News: vimeo.com/218863978

The MVP parents’ Twitter handle is @KEEPMVPOPEN.

Robert J. Bellafiore
Delmar, NY

Follow Vets’ Example,

To The Editor:

As Grand Knight of St. Anastasia Knights of Columbus Council, No. 5911, I had the proud experience to attend a Memorial Day flag-raising at the Divine Wisdom School in Douglaston. There were many there from various military services like the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Guard. After the ceremony, we went to Father Smith Hall, which is part of St. Anastasia Parish, where the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade committee offered a Veterans’ Breakfast. I had the opportunity to talk to a few in the military who told me that volunteering to join the military was the greatest thing they could do to guard and protect our great nation. Meanwhile there are many religious, civic and community groups who find it hard to get new members who are willing to volunteer and to serve the greater good and help those in need. And yet these young men and women coming from various parts of the country and who come from different religious, cultural and racial backgrounds put their lives on the line and desire is to make America a better place. I think they put many of us to shame, who only give excuses why they can’t volunteer to help to make our community a better place, and at the same time help those in the most need. So, please volunteer your time to those various political, religious, civic, and community groups that serve and help those in the most need. For doing so let me say, “Thank you.”

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village

Police Scapegoated

To The Editor:

The NYPD sergeant who was convicted of murdering a mentally ill woman last October was in a very dangerous situation. Upon confronting this woman, who had already had multiple complaints about her unstable behavior, this officer and his colleagues ordered that she drop the pair of scissors that she menacingly held in her hands. After doing so, she then grabbed a baseball bat, which certainly could have been used as a deadly weapon to hit and injure or kill any of the officers. While Sergeant Barry did not use his taser as a first attempt to disarm this person, what if he had, and the taser failed to stop her? He most certainly would have had to use his weapon. It is very sad that this lady lost her life, but this police officer should in no way be branded a murderer for doing what he did. Also, why didn’t this woman’s family fight to get her put into an institution where her illness could be treated? Why didn’t social services get involved to help this unfortunate lady? There are far too many people living in this city who need to be put into institutions because they are mentally ill and unstable, and they certainly do not belong on the streets. Let’s not make the NYPD officers scapegoats for the failure of city agencies to do their jobs.

John Amato
Fresh Meadows

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