Town Meeting Explodes in the Face of Adam Clayton Powell, IV, and Proposed Conversion of P.S. 109 to ArtSpace
SCAN/LAGUARDIA MEMORIAL HOUSE, July 18, 2006—The Town Meeting called by Adam Clayton Powell and also sponsored by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity and ACORN was held here tonight and drew almost 200 people.
The Coalition to Save P.S. 109 came to fight, since Adam Clayton Powell, IV, had recently signed a letter in Tiempo, NY, calling for turning PS 109 over to a Minneapolis-based YUPPIE artist "Culture Vulture" real estate developer group called ArtSpace.
Yet the meeting was called in the name of increasing and improving educational facilities for the children of East Harlem.
The conflict over P.S. 109 dominated the discussion.
The Coalition unfolded a banner to the wide approval of the audience, and Rev. Norm Eddy as of the East Harlem Coalition to Improve Our Schools, as well as Gwen Goodwin, were able to address the audience.
Gwen also was called upon to speak on school overcrowding, and the statistical lies which cover it up. The main such trick is to eliminate gyms, science labs and other special cluster space, and designate them ordinary classrooms, "showing" a seating growth with the same old buildings, then announcing there is no shortage.
Everyone who mentioned P.S. 109 called for its restoration as a school, often evoking thunderous applause, instead of its conversion into ArtSpace plans.
Even John Ruiz, a candidate for City Council, announced that although he was an opponent of Gwen Goodwin in running for the District 8 City Council Seat, he supported Gwen on this issue.
Adam Clayton Powell, IV, was in and out of the room, and City Councilmember Melissa Mark Viverito left the building altogether on apparent advice from cell phone consultations, rather than face debate over P.S. 109, since they both support ArtSpace.
The orientation of the audience was apparently enhanced by the fact that the audience contained many Democratic officialdom hanger-ons, which was reflected in their reticence, nevertheless, to progress from outbursts and applause to an ongoing organizing process.
But in the aftermath of the meeting, several, including panelists, expressed a desire to take a real stand.
This led to the announced support of United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, among others, at the urging of Class Size Matters leader and founder Leonie Haimson, who was part of the panel.
The spirit of revolt in the face of elected officials, and the coming over of major institutional support, could spell the beginning of the end of the ArtSpace projects, and all other diversions from restoring P.S. 109 as a school.
ArtSpace's methods are becoming increasing typical of abusing a non-profit designation to gain priority over potentially independent projects, receive taxpayer-funded giveaway subsidies, and to invade communities with financial, political and cultural insensitivities.
The PS 109 building had been undergoing an illegal demolition until this was noticed by Gwen Goodwin, who created the Coalition to Save PS 109 to put a stop to the demolition. This was successful, and led to the building being further protected by being entered into the U.S. and N.Y. Registries of Historic Places.
The privatization of PS 109 to ArtSpace, or any similar outfit, would result in removal of these protections, and could lead to a return of the danger of demolition.
The building was designed by the legendary CBJ Snyder to be a marvelously functional school, and is a remaining architectural treasure of the East Harlem/El Barrion community.