January 12, 2007
Governor Elliot Spitzer
Albany, New York 12224
Dear Governor Spitzer,
We would like to congratulate you on your victory in the recent gubernatorial election.
We are writing to you to request your help in restoration and reuse of P.S. 109.
The Coalition to Save P.S. 109 was formed my initiative of in response to the beginnings of a demolition of P.S. 109, which is located at 215 East 99th Street in East Harlem/El Barrio.
We succeeded in stopping the illegal demolition of P.S. 109 in 1999 by the Board of Education. We have safeguarded the building by securing its acceptance on the National and New York State Registries of Historic Places, as well as the National Trusts 11 Most Endangered places.
As late as 2003, the P.S. 109 site was budgeted for Design/Scope as a public high school, according to a Department of Education Memo. CLICK). We agree that this would be an appropriate use for the site that would satisfy an important need of the community for school space.
We have always wanted P.S. 109 restored as a school within the Department of Education. This would be the most fiscally sound way to create new school space. We expect that your office will be releasing $14.5 billion to the NYC school system as per the lawsuit brought by the New York City councilmember Robert Jackson, and the Campaign for Fiscal Equity. It would seem one of the most appropriate ways of spending some of this money would be on the restoration of P.S. 109 for a public school. The restoration cost of P.S.109 would be between $25 to $40 million and provide 1,200 additional seats.. The cost of a new building of inferior quality, ranges between $150 to $325 million. I think most taxpaying citizens would opt for restoration.
There is a proposal to convert P.S. 109 to specialized artist housing by Artspace Projects, Inc., of Minneapolis, MN, and partner as well as local developer Gus Rosado.
This proposal includes giving away our public school building to Artspace for a nominal $1.00 transfer price. There has been no bidding process, competitive or otherwise. In addition, the developer's brother Felix Rosado works for the State comptroller Allen Hevesi, who will soon be ex-comptroller. Mr. Hevesi's office helped to facilitate this sweetheart deal.
According to documents we have obtained through Freedom of Information Law requests, there was November deadline for completion of plans and identification of credit sources, and a 2006-end deadline for the turnover of the building through the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
However as of this date, January 12, 2007, no turnover has occurred. As of this date all of the documents have not been completed by Artspace.
This plan would replace the perspective of restoring P.S. 109 as a school in favor of 64 middle income apartments for artists who earn $48,000 a year. The median income of East Harlem is $22,000 a year.
These apartments are not only too expensive for the majority of East Harlem residents, one also has to be an artist to qualify!
With all of the crisis in our neighborhood, high school dropouts, homeless women who work, and have children, fifty percent of black males unemployed, artist housing does not seem to be at the top of the list of crises for the people who live in East Harlem now.
The real crisis is loss to the children of East Harlem. They lose 1,200 potential seats in a community of growing educational needs.
The East Harlem Coalition to Improve Our Public Schools, Chaired by Reverend Norman Eddy, did a study of school space in 2001. This study concludes 85% of East Harlem schools are overcrowed.The populatiion of East Harlem has grown since that time and continues to grow. We have not had a population study done by the DOE in ten years. A copy of 2001 space study can be found on our website.
This is not a "done deal" as many of our local politicians would have us believe.
Among the local population, individuals are few and far between who consider giving away a public school to be a good idea, and are shocked and disappointed when they lean our Democratic politicians are the people working hardest to facilitate this deal.
We would like to request your intervention on behalf of the children of East Harlem to rescind of the Artspace proposal. Our children simply must come first.
Won't you please help us in the restoring and reopening P.S. 109 as a public school?
Nothing in the world would be more joyful then the sound of happy childrens' voices ringing in the halls of our beautiful P.S.109, built by C. B. J. Snyder. Mr. Snyder was not only the architect of PS 109 and many other landmarked schools in New York City, he was the superintendent as well.
C.B.J Snyder's schools were built to celebrated education, and they were specifically created for poor and immigrant Americans over 100 years ago.
Things have not much changed in East Harlem over the last 100 years. Today in East Harlem, we are still a vibrant working and working poor and immigrant community.
Our children deserve the chance to go to school in a beautiful castle such as PS 10
Please stand with our children. We thank you in advance for your time and kind consideration.
for the Coalition to Save P.S. 109
- Randi Weingarten, President of UFT
- Leonie Hameson, Classize Matters
- Reverend Norman Eddy
- Euginia Taylor, Chair for The Presidents Council
- Congressman Charles Rangel
- Community Education Council 4
- Borough President Scott Stringer
- Steven Kang, Program director for New York Lawyers for the Public Interest