To The Editor:
In a democracy, the voice of the people must be heard regarding projects planned in a community. Recently, the City Council voted to construct a school on the Keil property in my neighborhood here in Bayside, the neighborhood I have known for over 82 years. Why weren’t the people of my community informed that a hearing was going to take place at City Hall regarding this project? We would have come in force to express our opposition. It is outrageous, disrespectful and undemocratic that we were bypassed! I consider the Council’s approval vote on this matter null and void. And I can’t understand why Councilman Dan Halloran and Councilman-to-be Paul Vallone support this project against the will of people who live in this community.
There were dozens of local people at the community board meeting when the School Construction Authority came to make their presentation about building a new school on the Keil property. The people all said no, this school cannot go behind and between the homeowners’ fences! This school cannot be a curd away from Middle School 158. PS 31 is a short distance away on Bell Boulevard and a Korean school is over on 211th Street. Such a concentration of schools cannot be found in any other area. This school cannot go on a busy bus route surrounded by blocks with narrow streets and limited parking. And did the SCA give the public at the community board meeting an idea of how big the school would be, how it would be situated on the Keil property or who would be using the school and what the hours of operation would be? No! The two reps from the SCA were useless, and then they turned around and made the community board the scapegoat with some problem they had after the meeting. Instead of investigating the matter, the Chancellor punished the community.
As a community and civic leader, I believe that there must be some redress regarding the injustice of approving a school project when the public did not get their chance to speak at the City Council. And it has nothing to do with the Keil family who have served our community well. It has to do with the City Council and the SCA and other City agencies and a Dept. of Education and a Chancellor and certain elected officials who are arrogant and feel that they can impose their will over the taxpayers who pay their salaries and who they are supposed to represent. They do these actions from their offices far away. They should be coming to the community to face us and to hear the voice of the people. That is what democracy is all about.
Mandingo Osceola Tshaka,