Gang of Four incredibly converges in last ditch attempt to prevent PS 109 restoration as a school! 
We appeal to you to write to the elected officials below, who we believe have together betrayed the East Harlem community at every political level, on saving PS 109 and educating community youth. We have provided their contact information next to their signatures at bottom. We would appreciate it if you could send us a copy of any such communication.
The Coalition to Save PS 109 founded and presided over by Gwen Goodwin notes with sharp disappointment a convergence of East Harlem elected officials to try to prevent the restoration of PS 109 as a school within the NYC Education system.
The Coalition to Save PS 109 stopped the illegal demolition that was already underway in 1999, and will continue to fight for its restoration as a school.
Below is a reprint of the Gang of Four politicians' unbelievable letter to Tiempo NY, calling for a giveaway of public educational facilities to a a specious Artist housing proposal.
This in the face of the repeatedly stated position of Community Education Council 4, containing PS 109, as well as the recent NY Court of Appeals decision in the lawsuit by NYC Councilmember Robert Jackson and the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE). This decision directs a defiant Gov. George Pataki to turn over $14.5 billion in school funds impounded in the early 1990s, including moneys specifically earmarked for restoration and repair of PS 109.
Do not be intimidated or stampeded. The fix is NOT in. So far, the building has not been turned over from the Education Department to Housing Preservation and Development.
We appeal to you to write to the elected officials below who we believe have betrayed the East Harlem community at every political level. We would appreciate it if you could send us a copy of any such communication.
To the Editor:
We are excited to write in support of El Barrio’s Operation Fightback and Artspace’s collaborative effort to renovate PS109 into 64 units of affordable live/work space for our local artists and their families. Unfortunately, a recent op-ed in Tiempo erroneously reported that 50% of the units would be market rate. In fact, ALL 64 units will be affordable, meaning that those artists who qualify will be earning at or below 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI) – that’s at or below $38,400 a year.
[The excitement expressed here is in our opinion is a perverse result of carelessness with accuracy and a manipulative distortion of facts.
[Area Median Income cited is for an area different from the immediate surroundings of PS 109. East Harlem media income is approximately $22,000/year (NY Times, Aug. 29, 2004). Even If the "Area" is the entire borough of Manhattan, the figure would be woule be $29,040, which is 60% of Manhattan's median household income of $48,400, according to the NYC Housing and Vacancy Survey, 2002.)
[Furthermore, NYC generally requires that at least 50% of housing developments be at market rate, in order to subsidize the "affordable" portion. If less than 50% is market rate, it could only mean that the taxpayers are to a greater extent subsidizing the "affordable" rents for the specialized constituency..
[Recruitment for Artspace is not confined exclusively to currently East Harlem-based artists, so that the culture of the incoming population will likely alter the culture of the current community. The fact is that Artspace will get to define who qualifies as an artist fit to reside in their new specialized community.]
The PS109 project is a visionary partnership between El Barrio’s Operation Fightback, a group that has served our community for over 20 years by providing low-income housing and social services, and Artspace Projects, the nation’s leading nonprofit developer for the arts.
These two organizations have come together to transform an abandoned building into a new center for arts, culture, and education that will help anchor a new cultural corridor in El Barrio/East Harlem.
[In fact, Operation Fightback mysteriously contacted Artspace, which is based in Minneapolis, and maneuvered Artspace into a No-Bid proposal to privatize a Public School building, and prevent its restoration to a school which can provide 1,200 educational seats much needed by the upcoming El Barrio generation. With all due respect for Operation Fightback's work in many areas, it turned down over the years of struggle every request for even the slightest participation in efforts to save the PS 109 building.]
We understand the disappointment of those who had hoped to see PS109 returned to use as a public school--we share that disappointment. But, it would be prohibitively expensive to adapt this 19th century building to the educational needs of children in the 21st century. Understanding that the City of New York and the Department of Education have decided that renovation of the existing building is not a viable option we welcome El Barrio’s Operation Fightback and Artspace’s plan for PS109, which will save and refurbish this beautiful and historic building.
[The false implication here is that because PS 109 was built some 100 years ago, it is not suited as an educational facility in the lofty standards of the 21st century. Actually, the school was expertly designed by CBJ Snyder with optimum architecture for education, regardless of the number of the century, along with artwork that boosts self-esteem and adds an incalculable psychological boost to the educational environment. "Modern" construction and architecture tends to subordinate such functionality to bare-bones efficiency, which is more of a fictitious accounting perspective. The Artspace proponents admit that their plan is at the expense of the building's use as a public school. They also falsely claim that restoring school space is more expensive than building new space. But Please notice, they do not mention any new construction to compensate for stealing the building from its original educational purpose.
[One of the reasons PS 109 was saved was that the School Construction Authority was forced to admit that the restoration the PS 109 building would cost a fraction of constructing such a building anew.]
In the end, this project will create affordable housing, strengthen our cultural infrastructure, and provide much-needed community gathering and education space. Furthermore, there is a serious effort to incorporate green technology in this project-- something we all welcome. We are delighted that El Barrio’s Operation Fightback and Artspace Projects have taken on this challenge on behalf of our community, and we fully support this innovative project.
[Finally, it must be noted housing, affordable or otherwise, is functionally devalued if the residents have inadequate schools in the surrounding community to which to send their kids. Artist space in Little Italy, the Lower East Side, Greenwich Village, Williamsburg and many other communities, has effectively provided the first foothold in a gentrifying process, ultimately driving out low-income neighbors. We are all for Artist space in principle, but sometimes, as in this case, community preservation and education must take priority.]
Congressman Charles B. Rangel 15th Congressional District
163 W. 125th Street #737
New York, NY 10027
Phone: 212-663-3900
Fax: 212-663-4277
Hon. Jose M. Serrano, New York State Senator
157 E 104th Street
New York, NY 10029
Phone: 212-828-5829
Fax: 212-828-2420
Hon. Adam Clayton Powell, IV New York State Assemblyman
87 E. 116th Street
New York, NY 10029
Hon. Melissa Mark Viverito Councilmember, New York City Council
250 Broadway
New York, NY 10007
Phone: 212-788-8960
Phone: 212-828-9800