No Mission Accomplished Yet on UWS Schools

Mayor Bill de Blasio with City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal (l.) and School Construction Authority president Lorraine Grillo at an August 10 press conference in the construction site of the new public school at Riverside Center. | ED REED/ NYC MAYORAL PRESS OFFICE

September 11, 2016

To the Editor:
I would like to express concern with regard to the cover story “School Opens Early On Upper West Side — a Full Year In Fact” in Manhattan Express (by Jackson Chen, Aug. 25-Sep. 7).

Before the handshakes and fist-bumping, let us not forget that the need to build new schools to serve the Lincoln Square neighborhood is being addressed almost two decades too late. With the proliferation of construction of new buildings along West End and Amsterdam Avenues and Riverside Boulevard and the overcrowding of local public schools, planning for new schools should have started in the 1990s, when the planning for and construction of Riverside South first began.

In this time, there has been a marked increase in the number of private institutions in the area, with minimal response by the city to increase public schools, other than shifting spaces in local area public schools in Lincoln Square and the Upper West Side. The need to increase elementary school seats in the area was apparent prior to 2008, when the Center School Middle School was relocated after several years of overcrowding in PS 199.

In light of the significant development of residential units, local politicians and city planners charged with assuring adequate services are provided should have known that the significant increase in the demand for public schools would continue to grow. While some city and state politicians are new to serving in their positions, many are not new and have participated in city and state governments for decades, whether in their current or other roles.

Further, most if not all of these new residential buildings have multi-year tax abatements, thus not generating the property taxes needed to support the increased need for public services, only part of which is the need for public schools. It is the residents of non-tax abated buildings that are currently paying the tax bill for supporting these needs, as well as suffering through the construction disruptions and crowding of the neighborhood.

So please, the job is not over and needs to go further in order to provide adequate public schools and other necessary public services to the Lincoln Square neighborhood and for all neighborhoods throughout Manhattan and the city undergoing significant development.

Sharon Walters

WRITE US: Address letters to the editor, story ideas or tips, and proposals for writing an Express Yourselves op-ed to Editor@ManhattanExpressNews.nyc. The editor reserves the right to edit letters based on space or legal considerations.