Letters to the editor

Rebuilding coverage

To The Editor:

I want to take this time to compliment you on the Downtown Express’ coverage of the rebuilding process to date. As someone who has been following the rebuilding process closely, I have always been impressed with your instincts for producing timely and accurate articles on the emerging issues in rebuilding. Your February 19 article entitled “Downtown’s Transportation Future” is a particularly good example. At the time, the planning on the 16-acre site was the headline story, but at the same time more than $20 billion in transportation projects was being put on the table for discussion. The Downtown Express brought this issue to forefront and helped to bring the larger rebuilding issues into the public view.

Lately, it has seemed that the headline stories in the newspapers have been largely about self-interest, dissent and disagreement. The papers were being dragged into a strategic battle driven by a fear of control (or lack thereof). The voices of dissent seemed to be prevailing and I feared this would give the public an impression that infighting was going to derail the process.

I was pleased to see the series of articles that were published in your latest issue. The editorial, “Reviewing plans for the W.T.C.,” plus your article on the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation community workshops (news article, July 29 –Aug. 4, 2003, “Downtowners brainstorm at L.M.D.C. workshops”), were again well-timed and sorely needed. More attention needs to be brought to groups like New York New Visions, Imagine NY, the Civic Alliance, LCAN and R.Dot because they represent both a fully informed opinion and a very broad and diverse constituency.

Moving the bus depot off the site, keeping the 1776-foot tower in place and making $50 million available for affordable housing were good steps. Moving some of the commercial and retail density off-site would be another. Now if we could just figure out a way to get 60,000 people back to work, then we would really be generating prosperity out of loss.

Michael Kuo

Project manager, Imagine NY

New school, no expansion

To The Editor:

A proposal’s been “floated” recently to build on six new classrooms to the back of P.S. 234 (news article, July 1 – 7, 2003, “Plan floated to expand P.S. 234).

The architects did an outstanding job designing P.S. 234, both in terms of scale and usability.

My first fear about this proposal is the loss of P.S. 234’s back playground.

I returned to my childhood hometown elementary school recently and discovered the playground had been turned into a parking lot. I still have fond memories of playing there — with the playground equipment, having fun at the drinking fountain and the little corners where we played games.

I wasn’t around to stop the loss of my hometown school playground, but I’m certainly here to prevent the loss of this one.

After 9/11, P.S. 234’s children were displaced twice. The playgrounds were critical at both locations. I volunteered then as a teacher in the afterschool program. At first, we time-shared P.S. 141’s playground. And then we had St. Bernard’s to ourselves. The afterschool classes I lead were just outdoor games, mostly invented on the fly. But, with all the tension of 9/11, outdoor play was critical.

Similarly now, outdoor play for the children at P.S. 234 is critical. Adding the loss of the back playground to the stresses of a recovering 9/11 neighborhood does not make sense.

The priority has to be the children.

If the child age population Downtown is ballooning so dramatically, then another elementary school must be built. Adding rooms to P.S. 234 only distracts and delays the planning for another school.

The toll of the construction projects here is already high. There are constant street projects, as well as the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site, and the transportation hub at John and Fulton.

Sept. 11 caused considerable environmental dust concerns. Unfortunately, the next five years of construction will bring a lot of new dust and noise. This proposed new construction would put another construction project, literally in our backyard.

Given all this, it’s best if we can keep at least a small perimeter around P.S. 234 construction free.

Scott Myers