The absurdity of building a charter middle school here


(re: “Proposed charter middle school raises tension,” April 26)

It always brings a wry smile to my face when I read pronouncements by the International Leadership Charter High School describing how it intends to deal with the issues the community has raised with regard to the micro-monstrosity middle school it’s proposing to build, on a parallelogrammatic 5,000-square-foot lot.

The most “cherce” of these assertions is: “the school would suggest that teachers and staff park off-site,” to ameliorate with the traffic congestion issue. International Leadership is building lot-line to lot-line to lot-line to lot-line in a futile attempt to cram 200 to 300 students into a footprint barely adequate for 134 — plus 10 teachers — if they were to build it to the design specs of the high school.

There is no “on-site” parking, And the school itself consumes four parking spaces on the block. Meanwhile, subsidence damage to the adjacent Tibbett Towers parking lot, from the excavation work, has now required 11 co-operators to forego the use of their pre-paid parking spots, and returns them to the curse of the “alternate-side shuffle” and the “randomly collected New York City motor vehicle owners tax.”

For how long? Not even Nostradamus knows. They’re summoning a conclave of engineers to figure out if — and how — they can get the toothpaste back into the tube.

This has got long, drawn-out civil litigation written all over it. And this aspect doesn’t include structural damage in the basement of The Edwardian, and damage to the two-story brick homes along Tibbett.

Most of what International Leadership writes is halo polishing and glittering generalities. How it’s “countering misinformation,” while ladling on the absurdities. How it’s all about, and of, and involved in the “neighborhood” and “community” while being, apparently, totally ignorant of the parking and traffic situation around here during “arrival and dismissal times.”

The second-most “cherce” assertion: “We’ll stagger our arrival and dismissal times.” There are 15 schools within a five-block radius, and whenever the Major Deegan Expressway and the Henry Hudson Parkway back up, everybody’s Wayfinder app plonks them down onto Irwin, Tibbett and Corlear.

They’re going to stagger arrival and dismissal times? Sure. They’ll stagger in at 7a.m., and stagger home again at 7 p.m. Is that their plan to serve 300 of the underserved in a facility suitable for only 134 at a time?

Parking is a genteel blood sport in this neighborhood — no actual blood, yet, thankfully. Tibbett Towers, Corlear Gardens and The Edwardian do not have sufficient on-site parking for their number of apartments. The Manhattanville Health Care Center has a large staff that overflows their lot and onto both sides of Irwin between West 231st and West 232nd streets, including on the painted diagonal stripes defining the intersection of Irwin and West 231st.

Then there is the staff parking for the International Leadership high school itself, the Amber Charter School on Corlear, and the city high schools beyond West 230th Street on the Kennedy Campus.

There is remarkably little on-street parking on Irwin, Corlear and Tibbett, between West 232nd to West 240th streets as most of the homes have garages and driveways. P.S. 7 also consumes most of the on-street parking on the East side of Corlear between West 232nd and West 233rd streets.

The alternate side spaces fill up as soon as the sweeping machines have passed, with the drivers waiting in their cars until the spaces becomes legal. Sometimes for as much as an hour.

Into this maelstrom they’re promising to add another 20 teachers — to keep their student-teacher ratio — plus administrators and cafeteria and custodial staff? Plus the odd school bus or three?

Their “catchment area” is the entirety of Bronx School Board District 10, which spans from Burnside Avenue in the south to the Yonkers city line in the north. Nearly a fifth of their potential student body lives beyond a mile-and-a-half away, and two-thirds of them more than a half-mile away qualifying them for education department transportation.

Some fraction will get “bus” or “subway” passes if they live close to the Bx1, Bx7 or Bx10, or the 1 train. The rest will get on a big yellow school bus and join the morning melee.

As Voltaire once said, “Those who can convince you of absurdities, can convince you to commit atrocities.”

Eli Ignatoff, International Leadership Charter School, middle school construction, NIMBY, traffic, parking, Tibbett Towers, Corlear Gardens, The Edwardian