FW: Critics rip athletic field plan (Daily News)
Critics rip athletic field plan (Daily News)
an article in Daily news about hearings yesterday; there was also a story on WNYC radio this morning apparently, though I haven’t heard it.
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Critics rip athletic field plan
BY FRANK LOMBARDI
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU
A revised plan to give 20 private schools partial exclusive use of most of the sports fields on Randalls Island failed yesterday to satisfy its critics.
"It's an unbelievable disgrace," Matthew Washington, an East Harlem community board member, said at a City Council hearing. "It sends a message to our children that if you have money, we will rank you above other children."
Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe staunchly defended the proposed arrangement, which calls for the private schools to spend $52.4 million over 20 years to help renovate 36 existing fields and build 27 new fields.
In return, the schools would have exclusive use of at least 42 of the fields during the prime weekday hours of 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. for 20 weeks a year.
Benepe said public schools and others would have priority access to 20 of the new fields, rather than just two.
"In effect, the private schools are subsidizing in a pretty large measure the public use of this space," he testified. "So it's really quite a good deal for the city."
In a prior plan that caused a furor, the private schools would have gotten exclusive use of 80% of the fields during the prime weekday hours for 30 years. The current proposal calls for exclusive field use of 66% for 20 years.
Councilwoman Melissa Mark Viverito (D-Harlem) continued to oppose the plan, contending it underserves her community. She urged reducing the exclusive use by private schools and requiring renewals of the arrangement every five years.
Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) derided Benepe's assertion that the arrangement would be mutually beneficial, saying, "No pun intended - you're way out of the ballpark."
The Council has no formal vote on the issue, but its criticisms could prod the Bloomberg administration into making more adjustments in the terms.
A formal vote is scheduled Feb. 14 by the Franchise Concession Review Committee, which is controlled by the mayor.