GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT 2002: District 4 JUMP TO YOUR DISTRICT
 
 

District 4
Upper East Side



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District 4 - Eva Moskowitz
420 Lexington Avenue (356), 10017
City Hall: (212) 788-7393
District: (212) 818-0580
Fax: (212) 442-1457
Email: moskowitz@council.nyc.ny.us

Committee Assignments:
Education, Chair
Finance, member
Governmental Operations, member
Transportation, member
Women's Issues, member


Paradise From A Parking Lot

By Keith Hendershot

One day this spring, residents of Manhattan Community Board 6 will get something they have been seeking since 1973. On that day, Stuyvesant Cove, a 1.9 acre park between 16th and 24th streets on the East River, will officially open to the public. But residents have not waited for anything so formal as an official opening. They have been using the space already, gazing out over the East River, bicycling and jogging along its paths or venturing over the fence to climb the rocks leading to the water.

Eventually, the park will be graced with an Environmental Learning Center, complete with a museum focusing on the East River's ecosystem and history.

The new park is almost exactly what community board members envisioned in 1996 when they approved a proposal for turning what was then a parking lot on the river side of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village into a park with waterfront access.

"I see it as being the Steve Rosen Memorial Park," said the current chairman of Community Board 6 Mark Taylor, "He worked tirelessly to . . . make this park a reality." Rosen, who headed the Stuyvesant Cove Park Committee, died in 2000.

Unlike many 197-a plans, which confront an array of community problems and locations, this one focused solely on the park. Some believe that was the key to its success.

"We just wanted a park. It was a realistic goal, and it wasn't terribly expensive. We had this available contained space that gave us the opportunity, and we pursued it, said Community Board district manager Toni Carlina.

For all practical purposes, residents of Community Board 6 built the park, and they, not the city, will manage it as well.

The park is on the site of what was to be River Walk, a massive commercial and residential development that was to be built on stilts over the East River bed. It fell through in 1990 because of dwindling real estate values and opposition from environmental agencies and community residents.

Out of the 59 community boards in New York City, the Community Board 6 encompasses an area that falls dead last in the amount of available park space per capita. But it wasn't until after the River Walk plan collapsed that the board first offered a concrete plan for a waterfront park on the site.

The Economic Development Corporation, a government agency that managed the land on behalf of the city's Department of General Services, was able to secure funds from the city, state and federal governments, eventually covering all $6.65 million of the construction budget.

"The funding of the park was a jigsaw," said Taylor, "but no one would have given us a cent if we didn't have this concrete, well-organized plan for them to look at and say 'Hey, this is a viable project.'"

Because the park will not be the responsibility of the Department of Parks and Recreation, the plan had to spell out an "economic component" to pay for management and maintenance. Under the plan, the money-making venture must enhance the experience of being on the East River waterfront and convey a sense of "civic dignity."

Thanks to a federal grant secured by the Economic Development Corporation the park will eventually be home to the Environmental Learning Center, which will contain a cafe, performance space and museum. The center will generate revenues through the cafe, as well as by hosting workshops and special events. The center, which will use alternative energy sources, will feature an exposed steel structure that will be a striking presence on a waterfront where the most prominent feature has been the power plant on 14th Street.
Should the Mayor Control Education?

By Eva Moskowitz

As chair of the New York City Council education committee, I am holding a week of hearings to investigate the question of mayoral control over New York City's public schools.Because mayoral control is an issue of importance both to the political and educational life of New York City, we have reached out to every corner of the city and beyond in order to achieve the greatest possible diversity. The education committee, and the City Council as a whole, can take great pride in the fact that we have established the first ever forum for parents to come to City Hall and raise their voices regarding a subject on which they have been ignored for far too long.

The parents' forum will take place this Thursday, February 28, at 6:00 p.m. in council chambers in City Hall.

The debate surrounding mayoral control over New York City's public schools is one of the most politically important in New York City today. But it is also part of one of the most heated and energetic debates in all of American politics, as well.

As members of a democratically elected body, none of us won a seat in the City Council by promising our constituents that we would always agree with our colleagues. It is our job to discuss, debate, and investigate the pressing questions of our day -- and we ought to do so with good faith and vigor.

That being said, I think we can all agree on at least one point of common ground at the outset of this investigation: We all agree, both friend and foe of mayoral control alike, that the New York City public school system is failing to educate our children. Though we justly take pride in some of the best schools in the world, New Yorkers also feel the shame of allowing the city's future generations -- many of whom are minorities or come from low-income families -- to go to schools where, in too many cases, they leave without having learned the essential skills for life in the real world.

Last month, we celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, who dreamed so courageously of an America in which black boys and black girls could go to public schools with white boys and white girls. It was a dream, he said, firmly rooted in the American Dream -- but what hope does the Dream have today, when public schools lack the resources and the guidance needed to give children of any color or creed the necessary training for life in the fiercely competitive global marketplace.

Even a brief glance at some of the problems afflicting our public schools makes it chillingly clear that the system is failing and change cannot be far behind:

Low Graduation Rate: In 2000, the four-year graduation rate at New York City public high schools was less than 50 percent. The four-year rate for students graduating with a Regents Diploma was an abysmal 30 percent. Many experts expect that the graduation rate will only fall further over the next few years because new standards for graduation require high school students to pass Regents examinations in five separate subjects before earning their diplomas.

Low Student Achievement Levels: In 2000, only 39.8 percent of students in grades three through eight met the State's minimum standards for reading. Even fewer -- 33.7 percent - were able to meet the State's minimum standards for math. These numbers are even worse for students in the 8th Grade, with only 32.5 percent of eighth graders meeting minimum requirements for reading and an abysmal 22.6 percent for math.

Excessive Bureaucracy: Like the ones just listed, many of the problems afflicting New York City public schools seem to stem in large part from excessive bureaucracy. The Board of Education is justly known throughout the world as one of the least competent and most bureaucratic institutions operating in the developed world. The dysfunctional nature of the Board of Ed bureaucracy undoubtedly hurts student achievement and negatively affects the future prospects of public school students. The New York Times recently reported that barely half of the Board of Ed's $11.5 billion budget goes toward classroom instruction. We also learned recently that the Board of Ed has sharply increased funding for administrative costs while funds for teachers, books, librarians, supplies, training, and curriculum remain stagnant at best. The School Construction Authority Operating Budget also points to problems with bureaucracy. The School Construction Authority pays fees 60 percent to 70 percent higher than private firms, costing us 24 new schools that could have been built in areas, like Queens, where we are very short on space.

These are only a few of the citywide ills currently afflicting the health of public education, which anyone can learn about simply from reading the newspaper. My own work as a City Council member, however, has provided the most thorough and painful education on how excessive bureaucracy is strangling the life out of public schools and the hopes for boosting levels of student achievement. At one of the schools in my district, Life Sciences Secondary School on 96th and 1st, students had to go for a full month and a half into the school year before getting their textbooks. In trying to get to the bottom of this problem, I found that there was no one willing to accept responsibility for this inexcusable lapse in management. The Board of Ed blamed the school for not ordering the books in time. The superintendent and the principal blamed the Board of Ed for not providing the money to pay for the books, and on and on it went with excuses piling on top of excuses, burying any hope for accountability to exist in a system that is too big, too complicated, and too corroded to give our children the adequate education that should be theirs by right.

Education often isn't spoken of as a human right, but I hope that we can all agree that it should be and that our unique responsibility as the people's elected representatives binds us to finding a way for the children of this city to enjoy this right so that they may better conduct the pursuit of happiness that is guaranteed to us all by the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

The world never seems to run a shortage on naysayers and I have no doubt that their camp is filled with people complaining that mayoral control and reform of the city's public schools is an Albany issue that will ultimately be decided by the great and powerful figures who rule over the State Legislature.

I cannot agree with the naysayers, however, because to do so would mean abdicating responsibilities to my constituents that I solemnly swore to uphold. I know that every member of this body feels the same way and my fervent hope is that these hearings will herald a new age of activism and innovation in the City Council.

Adapted from the opening statement by Councilmember Eva Moskowitz, chair of the City Council education committee. Posted February 26, 2002.


Community Boards for District 4
Community Board No. 5 (partial)
450 7th Ave.,
Rm. 2109, NY, NY 10123
(212) 465-0907
Ms. Kyle Merker, Chair
Ms. Kathy Kinsella, District Manager
Community Board No. 6
866 UN Plaza Ste. 308, NY, NY 10010
(212) 319-3750
Mr. Mark Adams Taylor, Chair
Ms. Toni Carlina, District Manager
Community Board No. 8
505 Park Ave., Ste. 620, NY, NY 10022
(212) 758-4340
Mr. Kenneth M. Moltner, Chair
Acting Ms. Elizabeth McKee, District Manager
http://www.decny.com/cb8/


Community Plans for District 4 (PDF format)
Waterfront Revitalization and Access Plan - East River Repowering Project (Community Board 6 and East Midtown Coalition for Sensible Development (EMCSD))

197-a plan for Stoyvesant Cove (Community Board 6)

Waterfront Revitalization and Access Plan - Comprehensive Manhattan Waterfront Plan (Manhattan Borough President's Office)

Transportation Plan - Auto-Free Light Rail Boulevard for 42nd Street (Institute for Rational Mobility)



Ethnic Makeup and Political Registration


Ethnic Makeup

Political Registration


Public Schools

Elementary Schools


Middle Schools


High Schools



To find out what school district you live in, call the Board of Education at 718-935-2000 or link to Public School Reports



Police Precincts

Although many precincts cover areas solely within one City Council district, there are many which overlap with other districts. In most cases the overlap of precincts among districts is no more than a few blocks. Wherever there is overlap, we have made sure to alert you.



Community Gardens



Click for larger image
Find out more about community gardens from
the Council on the Environment of New York City


Historic Districts and Landmarks
Learn more about the historic districts and landmarks in this area.


The Waterfront

A
map listing suggestions for use and improvement of the waterfront in this district from the Metropolitan Waterfront
Alliance. (pdf format only)