Saturday, November 18, 2006

CB9M Opposes Plans for P.S. 36

Columbia Spectator

Home > News

CB9M Opposes Plans for P.S. 36
Meeting Addresses Assemblyman Demotion, Magnet School

By Jacob Schneider
Issue date: 11/17/06 Section: News

Assemblyman Keith Wright said his
dismissal from the HCDC was an act
of "pure retaliation" by Governor
George Pataki.

The discussion at Thursday night's Community Board 9 meeting centered around a recently announced plan to locate a Columbia-sponsored magnet school at a Harlem elementary school, procedural changes on the Local Development Board, and the demotion of one local politician.

The planned placement of the Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science, and Engineering in P.S. 36, a pre-K to second-grade school on Morningside Drive, drew fire from elected officials and CB9 members. Local residents took issue with the fact that the project would put young elementary school students in the same building as secondary school students and complained that the community was not consulted before the decision.

Assemblyman Keith Wright, D-Harlem, said he was "opposed to the move because economically it doesn't make sense," arguing that money would be wasted on renovations to accommodate the middle school students who would only be there temporarily."There's no way this could have happened if Columbia hadn't been talking to the Board of Education," said Tom Demott, anti-expansion activist and leader of the Coalition to Preserve Community.

"The Columbia high school is not intended for children in CB9," Jordi Reyes-Montblanc, CB9 chair, said. "We certainly want a math and science school, but we want our children to benefit."CB9 member Keith Mitchell arrived late at the meeting from discussing the plan with Dennis Walcott, deputy mayor for education and community development, who he described as "sympathetic."

Wright announced before the board that he was removed by outgoing Governor George Pataki as chair of the Harlem Community Development Corporation three weeks ago, citing what he believed were political motives."I was dismissed out of pure retaliation," said Wright, arguing that Pataki took issue with his support of two local candidates for a hotel development project in Harlem.

"The Pataki administration wanted HCDC to pick an outfit called Apollo, but we did not choose them because we want as much participation from the community as possible," he said.Though Wright said that he expects to be reappointed by Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer when Spitzer takes office in January, he called the corporation, which recently came under the leadership of President Keith Wofford, "woeful."

The board also discussed the decision by the Local Development Corporation, a group formed to negotiate a community-benefits agreement with Columbia, to open meetings to the public but not allow a public-speaking period, which one member attributed to the clout of elected officials on the board of the corporation."They have their ways of influencing people and they vote as a bloc," said Demott, who also serves on the LDC.

The board also nominated officer candidates for next year: Reyes-Montblanc for chair, Carolyn Thompson and Pat Jones for vice chairs, Ted Kovaleff for secretary, Ramona Jennett for assistant secretary, Barbara Marshall for treasurer, and Yvonne Stennett for assistant treasurer-all of whom already hold these positions.

In addition, members nominated Vicky Gholson for vice chair, Michael Palma for treasurer, and Martha Norrick, BC '07, for secretary.

No comments: