2017-09-20 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Disruptive Decision

To The Editor:

On September 6, 2017, Justice Marguerite A. Grays of Queens County Supreme Court denied three orders to show cause requested by Christ the King Regional High School (CTK), Middle Village Preparatory Charter School (MVP), and Christ the King Continuing Education (CTKCE). The goal of each of these show cause orders was to stay enforcement of a March 22, 2017 order by Justice Grays which directed MVP to cease operations on the CTK Campus. That decision is currently being appealed to the Appellate Division.

It is unclear why Justice Grays denied these requests after both MVP and CTK had already started their new school year.

The fact is any disruption to MVP will have consequences far beyond MVP itself.

MVP has become, over the last four-plus years, an integral presence on the CTK Campus. Rent from MVP helps fund scholarships and grants for most of the 700 students at CTK. These funds add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars that directly benefit CTK students and their families by keeping the high school tuition affordable for so many hard working people in this area of Queens. In other words, these funds are subsidizing a quality Catholic education. Justice Grays’ decision puts these scholarships and grants in danger of being defunded.

The potential impact of this ruling on MVP as an educational institution is harsh. MVP will be faced with the almost impossible task of finding adequate new educational facilities in the middle of the school year and transitioning its operations, resulting in confusion and dislocation... if such facilities could even be found.

Failing to find a place to relocate, MVP would be forced to end its operation on the CTK Campus. MVP students, over 400 in number, in just grades 6 through 8, would need to be accommodated in public schools in a district already experiencing severe overcrowding. This would be detrimental to their education, and a cause of severe anguish for parents who have seen their children thrive and succeed year after year in the state math and reading scores.

In addition to the turmoil visited on families and students, teachers, administrators, and support staff at MVP, all will also be thrown into confusion with possible job losses if the school is forced to cease operations.

As mentioned, flooding the local school District 24 with an influx of 400-plus students after the school year has started will have a negative impact on other students far removed from the CTK Campus, as well as the administrators and teachers in the entire school system.

The legal counsels for all three schools, CTK, MVP and CTKCE, are confident that they will prevail with the appeal of Justice Grays’ original ruling from March, 2017. To preserve that expected outcome, they will move expeditiously for an emergency stay of this latest ruling by Justice Grays from the Appellate Division.

Fairness and equity for the students, families, teachers and staff affected by this decision requires no less.

Serphin R. Maltese
Christ the King HS Chair, Board of Trustees

Japanese Military Build Up

To The Editor:

As a counterweight to China and North Korea, we should encourage Japan to build up its military capabilities.

Japan should increase its frontline military personnel from 250,000 to 350,000 and increase the number of tanks from 700 to 1,000, and armored vehicles from 3,000 to 4,000. It has about 300 fighter aircraft and 500 transport aircraft which could go to 500 and 600, respectively. Attack helicopters should increase from 120 to 200. It needs to develop a number of fighter bomber wings. It needs to upgrade its navy from three aircraft carriers to five and double its destroyers to 90.

Japan should increase its missile defense systems to counter missile launches from North Korea, and it might want to develop a robust conventional offensive intermediate missile capability that could strike North Korea.

Maybe China and North Korea will be more conciliatory and less aggressive when facing a more powerful Japan.

Also, we should maintain a strong military presence in Japan to influence Japanese policies. We have nuclear weapons available at US bases and on aircraft carriers and submarines in the Pacific. PS: This letter was written before Buchanan’s editorial.

Donald Moskowitz
Londonderry, NH

Symbol Of Pride

To The Editor:

I want to express my strong disapproval of the mayor’s proposal to remove the Christopher Columbus statue from Astoria Blvd. The removal of the statue will demoralize all Americans of Italian heritage, like myself.

Our ancestors came to this country to make better lives for themselves. We respect each other’s beliefs, religions, and cultures. Christopher Columbus should be idolized and commemorated, not depreciated.

I have lived in Astoria most of my adult life, respecting the statue during the Columbus Day Parade festivities.

I hope that Astoria’s political representatives have the courage and guts to oppose Mayor de Blasio’s proposal.

I am a proud member of the Italian Federation at Astoria. I also share this pride with my family. My late brother, Alfred Varriale served the club with many years of service. John Ciafone, who is an attorney, is also a member of the Italian Federation.

I am writing to you on behalf of all native Italians and Americans of Italian descent.

Richard Varriale
Richmond Hill

QC’s 80th Anniversary

To The Editor:

We are delighted to announce the launch of our 80th Anniversary Year website, which highlights the achievements of Queens College and its remarkable alumni, faculty, staff, and students. Please take a few moments to watch a video message from President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez that describes our history, and review the “80 Wows,” revealing, inspiring and insightful points that open up the doors of the college to the unique stories about our campus.

Among the scheduled 80th anniversary year events are an appearance by alumna Fran Drescher to discuss her “Cancer Schmancer” initiative; a campus “Freedom Walk”; Alumni Homecoming; a presentation by Queens Poet Laureate and alumna Maria Lisella; exhibitions, lectures, performances, and more.

Looking back with pride at 80 years of progress, President Matos Rodríguez noted that, “one thing has not changed: the quality of our hardworking students, many of whom are the first in their family to receive a college education.”

Maria Matteo
Queens College of the City University of New
York

Stop Sign

A copy of this letter was received at the
Queens Gazette.
Honorable Catherine Nolan
Assembly Member, 37th District
47-40 21st Street, Room 810
Long Island City, New York 11101

Dear Assembly Member Nolan:

Thank you for your May 25, 2017 correspondence requesting an All Way Stop Sign at the intersection of 12th Street and Broadway.

I am happy to report that the Department of Transportation (DOT) has approved the installation of the All Way Stop sign at this location. We expect the installation to take place in the fall.

Thank you for your concern in this matter. Sincerely,

Polly Trottenberg
Commissioner

Encouragement Day

To The Editor:

I encouraged so many people for the past 26 and one half years as part of the Telephone Reassurance Program of Catholic Charities and the Department of the Aging.

These people are homebound and need encouragement, a sense of hope, a sense that they are cared about and loved and are not alone. I feel that encouragement is wonderful. In my time of need six years ago, when my brother Jay of blessed memory passed away suddenly, my life was bleak and lacking hope, and it was my Rabbi Jonathan Pearl who encouraged me to reach new heights, before only imagined.

I encourage people and cherish their lives as I cherish my own. I also encourage residents who live here at Brandywine, about 25 of them, weekly in the evening.

If more people encouraged each other it would be a wonderful world indeed. Not only in times of sadness should people be encouraged, but schoolchildren, working people, and even neighbors and new friends must be encouraged to strive, to reach their rainbow in the sky. I was and am proud to say that as a result of finding my rainbow I help others find their own. So lend encouragement to others on this national day.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Necke

MTA’s Lost Opportunity

To The Editor:

There is more to the second anniversary for Metropolitan Transportation Authority New York City Transit starting service on the No. 7 subway line to the new 34th Street 11th Ave Hudson Yards station on September 13, 2015 that few remember. The original cost of the overall project was $2.1 billion and ended up at $2.4 billion, not counting the subway station that had to be dropped from the original scope of work, along with additional subway cars necessary to provide opening day service for transit riders. Neither NYC nor the MTA could find $500 million to cover the proposed new intermediate subway station to be built at 10th Avenue and 41st Street. This station was part of the original project. One trick used by transit managers to complete any project within budget, is to drop a portion of the original work. This saves the necessary dollars which were not available to deliver 100% of what was originally promised. Deletion of this second station kept the project cost at $2.4 billion rather than $2.9 billion.

Construction started in 2007 with a planned completion date of December 2013. The anticipated first day of public service slipped several times from this date. First, by six months to June 2014; second, eight more months to February 2015; third, four more months to June 2015 and finally September 13, 2015.

What the public, transit riders, transit advocacy groups and the media is unaware of is MTA’s senior management decision when the project was in the planning stage several years prior to 2007. They instructed staff deliberately not to follow the federal National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) process or enter the Federal Transit Administration New Starts process. The MTA did not want to go after New Starts funding for this project. This would have had this project compete against both the Long Island Rail Road East Side Access to Grand Central Terminal and NYC Transit Phase One Second Avenue Subway projects for Federal Transit Administration New Starts funding. The MTA provided no financial assistance and insisted NYC pay for virtually all of the project costs.

The MTA could have leveraged the $2.4 billion in locally committed funding to apply for up to $500 million in federal New Starts funding. Using $2.4 billion as local share would have demonstrated local commitment, financial capacity and significant over match for justification of these additional dollars from Washington. These funds could have convinced the Federal Transit Administration to provide $500 million in federal funding that would have paid for the deleted station at 10th Avenue and 41st Street.

Offering to pay over 80% of the total project cost, would have made it easier for both City Hall and the MTA to compete against other transit agencies around the nation who have their own proposed New Starts projects, to obtain $500 million. Work for the deleted station could have been part of original construction bid package awarded in 2007. It could have been included as an option to the base bid. This would have afforded the MTA Office of Capital Construction the opportunity to add the deleted station as part of the base construction contract at a later date if funding was found. This was dropped from the original scope of work for the #7 subway Hudson Yards extension as a means to keep the project within a baseline $2.1 billion budget. In the end, the cost was $2.4 billion without this station. The MTA will need a new procurement and third party contractor to build the station. NYC Transit will have to spend millions providing their own employee Force Account to support the construction contractor. They will be needed to provide flagging support which insures the safety of private contractor employees who will have to work adjacent to active subway tracks. The new contractor will also require a staging area for supplies and other support equipment. The previous contractor already had a staging area for supplies, support equipment and employees already mobilized to do the work. They had little need for NYC Transit Force Account flagging support as there was no active subway service. It would have been cheaper to the build the deleted station with the existing contractor already mobilized, on site with few obstacles.

Should the MTA find future funding for this station, the cost could be significantly higher than $500 million. The estimated cost today is $800 million to build the new #7 subway station at 10th Avenue & 41st. There is no funding in the current $32 billion MTA 2015-2019 Five Year Capital Plan for this project. The next opportunity for funding would be under the upcoming MTA 2020-2024 Five Year Capital Plan. Even if funding was approved under this plan, you would still need to complete design and engineering followed by construction. The cost could easily exceed $1 billion or more.

Without construction of the deleted intermediate station, riders and taxpayers continue to question if $2.4 billion for a 1.5 mile extension including one additional station built 21 months behind schedule was worth the cost.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

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