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Letters to the Editors:
(Note: Letters are posted in the order we receive and verify them, not necessarily the date on which they were written. Letters may be edited for clarity; please keep letter under 500 words. We are not in a position to check all facts; please attempt to verify factual data presented in your letters.)
- Vote YES for Bond: Children Freezing at Hommocks
- Vote No – Your Children’s Future Depends On It
- MDs Support Synthetic Turf as Safer Option
- Bond Strikes Correct Balance
- Bond Pared Down to Crucial Items
- Better Sports Facilities Will Help Keep Kids From Drugs & Alcohol
- Can’t Afford to Wait on Bond Projects
- Kemper Kin Supports School Bond
- Still Caring about the Mam’k Schools
- Thanks For Supporting Troop Phone Cards
- Caveat Emptor at County Computer Show
- School Bond Essential For Safety, Education
- Vote Yes Feb 10 on School Bond
- Support Bond As Long Term Investment
- School Bond Deserves Full Support of Community
- Remember Children’s Library In Year-End Giving
- ASK If There is a Gun in The Home Your Child is Visiting
- For More Letters on the School Bond, See: LETTERS 2008
- LETTERS ARCHIVE: 2008
- LETTERS ARCHIVE: 2007
- LETTERS ARCHIVE 2006
- POLITICAL LETTERS ARCHIVE: 2006
- LETTERS ARCHIVE: 2005
- LETTERS ARCHIVE: 2004
- LETTERS ARCHIVE: 2003
- LETTERS ARCHIVE: 2002
To email your own letter to the editors, please click here.
|Janaury 22, 2009
Vote YES for Bond: Children Freezing at Hommocks
Some of our children are wearing parkas, fleece, and mittens all day long at Hommocks Middle School. Teachers are too. This is just one of many reasons we need to show our responsibility as a community and vote YES for the bond referendum on February 10th.
The cost of not approving this bond is much too high, in terms of both cold hard cash and compromise of our kids’ education. The boiler systems at Hommocks and Central are over 40 years old and are obviously not capable of properly heating the buildings. The windows at Hommocks are gaping, single-paned glass.
In an era when energy conservation is so critical for our planet, how can we possibly continue to waste expensive energy because of inefficient and outdated equipment? Further, how can we sacrifice the precious time and energy of our children in this manner? This frigid learning environment for our children is obviously far less than optimum.
Our own daughter expressed repeatedly that her hands would turn cold and purple during each winter school day. We considered the spectrum of potential causes: poor circulation, not enough iron in her diet, some weird disease. Then we discovered she was not the only student suffering from this ailment. We were informed that much of the middle school is simply not getting sufficient heat. That was two years ago.
Last year, our community spent $25,000 to repair the boiler at Central School. If we let this crisis go, future repair needs may be even more costly; worse, equipment failure could temporarily close school. Besides the cash out-of-pocket, the intangible cost would be the negative compromise of our kids’ education and learning environment.
Here we live in a community of our nation’s best and brightest, of highly educated and successful parents and grandparents, of children who will forge the future. Our neighborhoods are well-known as amongst the most desirable to raise children, largely because of our leading-edge schools and our community mindset to make them that way. How could we possibly not take an active and positive position to fund the cost of basic maintenance of our school buildings and grounds?
Our school board members have been doing their work. They have been deliberate and sensitive and trustworthy; even more so as the events of this past year unfolded. They have spent hours thinking, discussing, deliberating, researching, rethinking, crunching numbers, listening and empathizing – all for the benefit of each of our kids and our school district as a whole, for years to come.
Now is time for the rest of the members of our community to step up to the plate and vote YES to approve this bond. Vote YES because we care about maintaining our school buildings and grounds. Vote YES because it is a long-term investment in our kids’ learning environment and education.
Yes, the proposed bond is a lot of money. Yes, we as taxpayers must foot the bill. Yes, we must vote YES to the bond referendum on February 10th.
MDs Support Synthetic Turf as Safer Option
As parents and as doctors, we support the upcoming school bond, which funds many projects critical to the health and safety of our district’s children. Specifically, we want to address health benefits of replacing some of our widely used playing fields – which are in terrible condition – with synthetic turf.
Turf has been proposed for two very important reasons, safety and capacity. It will be safer on kid’s bodies than the current fields which, despite best efforts of the district to maintain them, cannot stand up to constant use by the schools and community and consist of rock-hard dirt, dangerous pot-holes, bald spots, poor drainage, and uneven surfaces. The only way to maintain a healthy and safe grass field is to severely restrict its use and rest it, something we can’t do without seriously cutting back on our athletic programs. Turf provides a smooth, cushioned surface that can weather constant use, even during or after rains, enabling the district to meet the needs of our growing student population and provide healthy activities for more kids.
Heat: The district plans to use a lighter color infill that absorbs less heat. District fields are used most heavily in the fall and spring, not the hot summer months. Summer activities can be scheduled in the morning, late afternoon and evening, under the lights when it is cooler. Interestingly, turf fields cool down more quickly. And we can close the fields on the few occasions when air temperatures exceed 90 degrees.
MRSA Skin Infections: Although there have been cases of MRSA infections in football players who play on synthetic fields, there have also been cases in players of other contact sports on other surfaces. The solution is proper care for wounds and abrasions and safe hygiene in the locker room. According to the CDC, turf itself is not thought to be the vehicle of infection. And newer generation turf has become softer and less abrasive (maybe less abrasive than our fields.)
Infill and turf materials: Many concerns stem from the use of recycled crumb rubber. The district has committed not to use recycled crumb rubber (even though there is no evidence that recycled tire crumbs for cushioning present any health hazard). While some older fields were replaced due to concerns about the presence of lead, the Consumer Products Safety Commission determined that newer fields do not present this risk.
While there are no proven dangers from the kind of turf the district proposes, there are many proven dangers from obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other effects of a sedentary lifestyle, and many proven benefits of an active lifestyle that these fields will help foster . Installing synthetic fields will yield more playable hours on surfaces that will remain consistently safe over time.
Let’s give our kids the opportunity to play safely.
Joe Geldwert, DPM
Bond Pared Down to Crucial Items
I am writing to add my voice to the chorus of support for the current Mamaroneck School District bond issue. Please vote for the bond. It makes sense and it is the right thing to do. Among the key reasons are: 1) the items in the bond are critical. 2) Doing less will cost us more. 3) We gain the advantage of a good purchasing environment.
My support is based on my activities as a volunteer on the School Board Building Committee for the last twelve years, as an architect practicing in the community, and as a taxpayer in Larchmont for 28 years. Although our youngest child is a junior at the high school, so none of our children will benefit directly from this work, I remain committed to the concept that good schools are one of the foundations of our community.
The items on the bond are critical. The building committee had a much longer list of items that would be good and beneficial to work on. However, the board asked that these be pared down to only the most crucial items. This has been done.
Doing less will cost us more. When I joined the building committee the district was emerging from a phase of unplanned repairs. Many things were done on an emergency basis, incurring higher costs and having a negative impact on the use of the facilities. In the last twelve years, we have worked to have orderly, planned repairs and improvements, done at lower cost and less impact. The items in the bond, if delayed, could well end up as emergency repairs at substantial additional cost.
We gain the advantage of a good purchasing environment. Because we must do this work, it makes sense to do it at the least cost. The current bidding environment is very favorable. Material costs are down and contractors are eager for work. We will get the most for our expenditures.
Some people have told me that they wondered about the costs. Do not be misled by simple labels. The “Hommocks Boilers” are not just a simple unit like the one you may have in your basement. This is the label for an extensive system of central heating plant, distribution, controls, and supporting necessary building modifications. The cost estimating team that has prepared the budgets has a good track record working for our district and many others over the years. And if the bids come in a little less the district will see the savings. It is worth noting that the building heating upgrades will produce significant energy savings to offset against the bond costs. The reduced energy use will benefit the earth as well as our district.
So please join me in voting for the bond issue.
Can’t Afford to Wait on Bond Projects
As active members of the community, we believe that it is critically important to invest now in our most valuable asset: our schools.
The significance of approving the bond cannot be underestimated. The health and safety of our children are now in question. Our schools are old and many of the buildings are past their useful life. The last bond was completed in 2001. Greater deterioration to our schools’ infrastructure could result in much more costly renovations. Furthermore, the immediate cost impact to tax payers will not be experienced for two years.
The health and safety of our children is one of the reasons why people choose to live in Mamaroneck. With the implementation of the bond, the capital improvement projects will enhance the well-being of our children. Specific projects include: asbestos abatement, updated fire alarm systems, replacement of the heating systems, roof repairs, new fields, etc. A comprehensive renovation plan that was originally estimated to cost $65 million, has been reduced to $38 million, only focusing on issues deemed urgent. The school board and administration has been fiscally responsible and conservative given the current economic times.
What does this all mean: We cannot afford to wait any longer.
Delaying the bond will result in much more costly renovations in the future and in the meantime, put our children at risk. Once a bond is approved, the work will take several years to complete. We need to act now. By taking a long term view of our investment we will help strengthen our community and our children’s future. Our children will be able to learn and play in a much safer environment. An environment we can be proud of, especially knowing that we played a role in making it better.
Lex and Bari Malas
Still Caring about the Mam’k Schools
My youngest kid graduated from Mamaroneck High School in 2002. I join those “empty nest” parents who still care about our schools and I support the Mamaroneck School Capital Improvement Bond. If the bond does not pass I worry that:
>The next generation of kids might not have the safe and modern physical facilities that benefited my kids. That would be terribly unfair.
>Our district has not made a capital bonding proposal for 8 years, despite the New York State mandate for a Capital Improvement Plan every 5 years. Further delay increases the risk of more expensive system failures.
>Many more capital improvement needs are going to continue to stack up. The school board has already postponed many projects just to get this bond down to a reasonable number. These are the most critical needs right now. We have to start making a dent in the growing to-do list.
>A delay in approving this bond could result in the reduction of available building State aid. The State is likely to be less supportive in the future with its own shrunken resources. If we don’t take advantage of the near $10 million in building and excel aid that enhances the value of this plan, someone else will.
>The old windows at Hommocks are energy inefficient and result in higher heating bills. Why throw money out the windows?
>Four of our buildings need major roof repairs. Damages from a failed roof would be far more expensive than a replacement.
>There are fire alarm systems and fire doors in our buildings that are not up to current codes. This is not acceptable.
>Electrical upgrades are needed for the safe use of modern classroom technology. Inadequate electrical systems leave our classrooms in the last century.
>Our school properties are grossly under capacity and overused. They are not as safe and efficient as they should be for outdoor education. A modest investment (less than 20% of the total bond) will add safety and allow increased use of outdoor school and municipal space by our kids and the entire community.
>Real estate purchase prices are declining, if a purchaser can be found, at all. We don’t want another “hit” to our reputation as an outstanding school district.
A resounding “YES” vote will help maintain the strength of our community.
School Bond Essential For Safety, Education
The time is rapidly approaching when we will all be asked to make an important decision about the bond that was worked on so tirelessly and is being proposed by the Mamaroneck Board of Education. The bond contains essential and fundamental improvements to ensure the safety, education and development of our children–roof repairs, boiler and window replacements, electrical and plumbing upgrades, athletic field improvements, and playground resurfacing.
A little over 4 years ago our family made the decision to invest in this community. We chose Mamaroneck over neighboring communities for its combination of school system, recreational programs and diversity. Reflecting on the state of our community’s facilities, it is clear the time has come for investment. While general economic concerns are a factor to be considered, we must not lose sight of the long term benefits to what we have already invested in. Quality academic facilities and athletic fields are important and visible and will help ensure our community remains a desirable place to live and raise a family. Contrast that with a downward trend led by an infrastructure that continues to degrade.
My family and I are particularly passionate about the proposed improvements to our “outdoor classrooms” – the athletic fields so I will use this as one example of why the bond is so important. The teachings of athletics are vast. Commitment, dedication, pride, teamwork, trust, hard work, friendship, competitiveness, winning and losing, sportsmanship, self-confidence, and camaraderie are all lessons and experiences that will serve our children for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, the current shortage of playing fields limits these experiences. We have a large district—with more and more kids wanting to play. But our facilities are inferior in number and quality to all of our neighboring districts, many of which are smaller than us. The lack of safe athletic fields is, frankly, shocking given the overall quality of the community. Field closures on sunny days, inability to find practice space, and a high school varsity field that is bare, has no lights and is not even level should be unacceptable in a community such as ours.
It has been a wonderful experience becoming part of such a terrific community as we watch our children learn, play, and begin to grow up. Whether helping with the struggles of homework, watching a school concert, coaching a baseball game or cheering at a soccer game the experiences are priceless. The many friends we have made through these activities grow stronger each year. To sum it all up, we have a very special community and we know we made the right choice in moving here. Let’s pass this bond, make the necessary improvements and ensure the future of this great community we all call home.
Bill and Allison Nachtigal
Support Bond As Long Term Investment
As a resident with children who have graduated and moved on, I see this upcoming school bond as a necessary investment in our community – one that will have a direct link to my greatest personal investment, my home. By attending many Mamaroneck School Board meetings during the time the bond projects have been discussed, I have learned some compelling facts.
Like everyone, I am concerned about the current economic crisis. Yet, the tax impact of this bond will not be felt for 2 years and in the first year of impact it will be about $80 over what we pay today. This will average under $150 per year over the next 10 years (relative to an average $20,000 assessed home).
As the second largest school district in Westchester (after cities), and after 8 years of bond relief, there is critical work needed in this bond. This is work that cannot wait any longer – work that will become more expensive with bigger problems if left to further decay (including items that were left off the last bond and as such have become bigger, more urgent, and more expensive). Most of the proposed work in this bond addresses safety issues for our children. The fields and playgrounds fall into this category as well.
The Mamaroneck School District has been planning and waiting for safer and greater capacity fields for over 8 years. The Kemper plan was abandoned (despite winning the right to proceed) in favor of a better, less divisive solution. The district fields are used not only by the athletic program, but the complete physical education program and for the community youth sports and under-the-lights community gatherings. The current fields are now extremely unsafe and are often closed to our community members and for hosting intercommunity games. Our playground surfaces have also become unsafe.
The long term investment in our schools must be seen as an investment in our community. There will be great value and tangible benefits from the work proposed. Our home values will be affected – positively if the work is done – negatively if the bond fails.
Regarding costs and this economic time: As with any public school district projects, NY State Education Department guidelines apply, which makes for a very lengthy process. The vote happens in February, followed by a 6 month or so review in Albany, then drawings, bids and finally borrowing and construction — in phases – several months later. Our economy is unpredictable, but will improve at some point. This bond vote is an authorization to borrow as needed in the future over time, not a vote to spend today.
We must keep up with the work and maintain our excellent program, facility and reputation. This bond has already been cut back several times, and it would be irresponsible not to continue moving forward. I encourage my neighbors to support this effort and take the long term view.
School Bond Deserves Full Support of Community
Our family would like to thank the Mamaroneck School Board for the support that it has provided for new turf playing fields at our local schools. Now the field improvement plan is part of a school bond that will provide critical structural improvements, repairs and renovations at all of the district’s aging buildings. The bond is scheduled for a public vote on February 10 and it deserves the community’s full support.
We witnessed the extraordinary transformation in youth athletics that took place with the new turf field at Flint Park, where we watched our daughter play as a member of the Mamaroneck High School varsity field hockey team. Last year, the worn-out grass field created dangerous playing conditions, with uneven footing and balls that suddenly bounced up in the girls’ faces. This year, the smooth turf resulted in safer conditions, improved play — and no doubt helped to lead the high school team to a sectional championship!
Yet the improvements go well beyond sports titles. In these tight economic times, it’s vitally important that the community make sound investments that will secure our home values and protect our tax base. To cut back on these necessary improvements would be a step toward economizing ourselves into a downward financial cycle.
In particular, we hope the improvements planned for the high school’s Memorial Field will move ahead as quickly as possible. This is a highly visible, centralized facility that reflects upon the status and condition of our community. Currently, the field is a dangerous liability and the overall facility is an outdated relic that reflects poorly on our community.
The capital improvement bond itself is past due and so are the field improvements. The board’s analysis shows that the $38 million bond will cover all of the necessary school repairs and field work, yet it will not add to our local tax payments for at least two years, and even then the effect will be minimal.
In the face of today’s strong temptations to slash spending, we hope that the community will recognize all of the proposed improvements as a necessary, short-term investment that will yield lasting economic benefits. We think we will all look back and view this as a positive step for all of our community and, most of all, our children.
Craig & Margaret Leddy
|January 21, 2009
Vote No – Your Children’s Future Depends On It
I am writing this as perhaps a lonely voice advocating a “No” vote on the upcoming bond authorization. The residents of Mamaroneck UFSD should teach our youth a lesson in debt, tax policy, and state competitiveness.
The school district should not continue to pile onto the massive debts the state and public authorities have already accumulated (which will be paid for by your beloved children).
The voters of this district should vote “Yes” only if budgetary room is created via pension and health insurance givebacks from the unions or other cost saving measures.
This state is bleeding youth at one of, if not the, highest rate in the country because of the tax burden (which should tell you how they would vote).
I prefer the future over fields.
Bond Strikes Correct Balance
The February 10th school bond vote is an enormously important day for our community. What happens on this day—whether each of us as taxpayers chooses to get educated on the issues, whether we take the time to show up and vote, and of course how we vote — will significantly influence the health and safety and educational welfare of our children, the structural integrity of our school assets, and our property values for years to come.
Our last school bond was in 2001, which means it has been 8 years since we authorized the school district to make any significant infrastructure repairs or investments. These are difficult, even scary, economic times for everyone but we must face that fact that the physical plant of our schools is decaying and the work is piling up. Continued non-investment in the facilities that our children learn and play in and which serve as the engine for our property values is, in my view, short-sighted.
Your school board has worked tirelessly, transparently, and skillfully over the last few years putting together a capital plan that addresses the most critical infrastructure needs of our school system—leaky roofs, failing boilers, crumbling retaining walls, irreparably pot-holed fields — yet which also reflects the economic realities that we face today as a community.
Those of us who have attended these meetings have seen a board constantly focused on its role as stewards of both our schools and our tax dollars. Remember, the bond we will vote on February 10th already excludes tens of millions of dollars of projects considered critical by the Buildings Committee. What’s left are projects that are either essential to keeping the schools open or important to ensuring the health, safety and educational welfare of our children.
Each family will have to judge what the tax impact — no increase for the first two years and then an annual net impact of about $150 for the average homeowner — means for them. But it is important to keep in mind that — in the event the community votes “no” on February 10th — this work still has to be completed and the money spent at some point in the future. It is just a matter of what happens along the way: Will the cost of these projects escalate? How will continued non-investment affect our property values and kids?
Again, these are difficult times and what may be an easy answer for my family may not be for yours. I urge my fellow citizens to get educated on the issues and — please — resist sensational or simplistic arguments one way or the other. Your vote on February 10th is not just “for” or “against” kids or athletes or the environment or taxes. It is a decision, rather, about whether this plan represents the right balance of investment — in our schools, our children, our community — and restraint as it relates to our tax dollars.
I believe the answer here is YES and I urge you to vote YES on February 10th.
Better Sports Facilities Will Help Keep Kids From Drugs & Alcohol
As parents, as community members, we always consider how best to keep our teens away from alcohol and drugs. All of us have a responsibility to join in fostering a community environment that will help our youth grow into healthy adults. Strong families and caring, supportive communities are an essential tool for helping teenagers navigate difficult developmental years and steering them away from destructive decisions.
We ask you to consider how the upcoming Mamaroneck Schools’ bond referendum gives us an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our young people and our community. By improving our athletic facilities and installing lights to allow for evening practices and games, we will bring our community together in a way we have not been able to before. At homecoming, when the school district rented lights for the high school’s weekend games, we had just a glimpse of what this community-building experience would be like on a regular basis. Our fields can become a place where not only students, but families, can gather for evening events. School spirit will soar and our children’s connection with their community will deepen. In addition, evening sports games will give our teens “something to do” on weekend nights that is fun and drug and alcohol free.
Science tells us that the best way to be successful in reducing underage drinking and drug use is to reduce risk factors and increase certain known protective factors in the community. Improving our athletic fields can help increase those critical protective factors by providing our youth with safe and fun alternative activities that will at the same time increase their bond with the community. At a time when we seem to be losing our sense of community, this opportunity to turn that around should not be missed.
Kemper Kin Supports School Bond
“Why should I vote for the proposed Mamaroneck School Board thirty-eight million dollar bond to fund capital improvements for schools and, in particular, athletic fields if I don’t have kids?”
You hear that question often. What if Richard Kemper, my uncle, was asked to answer it? Richard Kemper was a student at Mamaroneck High School. On August 6, 1944 he was killed near Mortain, France in the Battle of the Hedgerows. Richard Kemper Park by the high school was established in his name and the names of the other former Mamaroneck school district residents killed in World War II. Here is how I think he would have responded:
“But you do have kids. Everyone’s kids are everyone’s kids. The children of the world belong to all of us. They are our future. They are the ones who will defend us when we need to be defended, take care of us when we are sick, construct our houses, pilot our planes, and make the discoveries that improve our lives.”
“But why are athletic fields a priority?”
“Because,” Richard would say, “Sound minds and sound bodies go together (mens sana in corpore sano) and both are built on playing fields. It is on playing fields, in other words, that students learn to cooperate with one another to achieve shared goals, compete in a friendly manner, and love activities that keep them strong and healthy.”
“Of course the reason you are saying that, Lieutenant Kemper,” someone might interject, “is because the board found a way to provide students with playing fields without encroaching on your park.”
“Naturally I am glad the board recognizes the park’s value to the students and the community,” my uncle would reply. “The park is there to remind us of the consequences of war and to honor the memories of those who were killed by motivating students to think about how to create a just world order in which wars no longer take place. But the reason I support issuing a bond in order to raise funds to make capital improvements to school facilities is because I recognize some things are worth the sacrifices needed to obtain them even when times are hard. Sure our taxes will go up a bit two years hence because of the bond but our future will be a whole lot brighter as a result of the improvements that will be made to our schools with the money raised.”
Thanks For Supporting Troop Phone Cards
For the past few holiday seasons, representatives from the Villages of Mamaroneck and Larchmont and the Town of Mamaroneck have raised thousands of dollars for the USO for the purchase of phone cards for the troops who serve overseas. Shortly after Thanksgiving, we set up tables outside of the Corner Store in Larchmont, and the CVS on Mamaroneck Avenue, to raise awareness for the good work of the USO and to collect contributions for the phone cards. It is our small way of expressing gratitude to the brave men and women who serve in all of the branches of our Armed Services.
People stopped to make donations and to send good wishes to the troops and their families. From the small children who donated their allowance money, to those who gave hundreds of dollars, this year was no different. The generosity of our community was overwhelming, including contributions from so many important groups in our area:
During these tough economic times, it is heartening to see how generous and thoughtful our community remains. On behalf of all of our public officials, thank you for your continued support of this effort.
Elizabeth N. Feld, Mayor, Village of Larchmont
Caveat Emptor at County Computer Show
The County Center in White Plains advertised a computer trade show for this past weekend (which will run again on 3-21 through 3-22-09), MarketPro Computer Show, which was to feature desktops, laptops, all kinds of computer equipment, at up to 50% off!! Based on the ad in the Center’s website, it actually sounded like it might be worth the time to schlep up to that out-of-the-way section of Central Avenue at the corner of Tarrytown Road in White Plains, a neighborhood replete with big box stores and nothing else, other than a gas station or two.
You pay $7.00 for entry into the “Show.” Then you walk into the basement, and soon realize how many other and better ways the entry fee could have been spent. If you actually came here for the computers, as I did, you saw that among the football field-sized room of cheap folding tables holding second-rate refurbished merchandise, there were maybe two sellers offering them. Most of the computers were produced years ago, or if new, were a few days from obsolescence. And most everything else was refurbished.
I had come looking for netbooks, and the two that I managed to find that were new were priced higher than they were at J&R (in NYC) last week. Ironically, the Staples next door to the County Center had better deals and deeper stock, but you didn’t have to fork over an entry fee to get in.
Frankly, the entire “show” looked like the result of someone’s driving a moving van down Canal Street in Chinatown, telling all the local street vendors to climb aboard with their knock-offs and grey-market goods, and try pawning them off on less sophisticated suburbanites in White Plains. What a joke! Fellow Westchester residents, please spare yourselves the trip to this shabby, transplanted junk heap of a show when it returns in March. You’ll get much better deals on computers and the related equipment anywhere else.
Andrew J. Barovick
Vote Yes Feb 10 on School Bond
As the president of the Mamaroneck School Board last year, I am writing to share the most important reasons I believe that it is imperative that the community approve the district’s capital improvements bond on February 10.
I am all too aware of the hard work and countless hours that went into reducing – by nearly half – the work initially proposed by the district’s building committee for inclusion in the bond. The bond being proposed truly contains only the work most critical for the preservation of the district’s infrastructure and maintenance of the health and safety of its students.
The work to be funded by the bond will benefit all of the district’s children. By keeping our buildings safe and warm, the underlying mission of the district, teaching and learning, can flourish. Moreover, passage of the bond will ensure healthy bodies for both our students and athletes and the entire community.
Improving the playgrounds at the Chatsworth and Murray Avenue Schools will benefit not only the children who attend those schools and all those who live nearby and use them after school and on weekends. Turfing the field at Central School (the most used field in Larchmont or Mamaroneck), which, despite constant effort, is riddled with pot holes, will ensure the safety of the hundreds of kids who use that field during school and recreational league play. The work that is envisioned for Mamaroneck High School – rotating and turfing the current football field and putting a new track around it and turfing the current baseball field and track, thereby creating two varsity sized playing fields, and lighting all of them – will substantially increase the amount of playing time on district fields. This will free community fields for more use by youth and adult recreational leagues and will also provide the community with a much more accessible track for exercise, so vital for a healthy life. Further, lighting the fields at the high school will offer the opportunity for many more community events as well as more safe evening alternative programming for our teenagers, which should lead to less drug and alcohol abuse.
I know that the timing of the bond is not ideal given the uncertain economic climate, however I don’t believe we have the luxury of delay: all of the work is so critical, and is long overdue. Moreover, there will be NO tax impact from this bond for 2 years, because of the amount of time it will take before any of the work can begin and the retirement of older bonds. Further, our infrastructure will only continue to deteriorate, and may well be more expensive to remediate in the future; some items that could be repaired now might need to be completely replaced later, and/or emergency measures, which are significantly more costly, may be required to allow our buildings to remain open if systems fail completely.
I am, therefore, urging all of you reading this letter to vote YES on February 10.
ASK If There is a Gun in The Home Your Child is Visiting
As the executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (www.nyagv.org) I work through advocacy and education to inform New Yorkers about the dangers of gun violence. Although I read every day about unintentional shootings ending tragically for people in this country, I was surprised to read about the shooting by the ten year old in my home town.(See: Child Injures Himself With Handgun.)
Far too often a story like this about a child who shots himself, ends with even more horrific results. This Larchmont boy was fortunate, as were the other children and family members in that household, that no one was killed or more seriously injured. The owner of the gun may incorrectly believe that he or she is somehow safer, since that is the myth perpetuated by the National Rifle Association, but this case – like many others – confirms the real results you are likely to experience.
Statistically, if you have a gun in your home you are much more likely to kill or injure a family member or neighbor, than you are to ever use the gun against an intruder. (See Harvard School of Public Health studies and statistics.)
We are not immune here in Larchmont/Mamaroneck to neighbors who own guns. More than ten years ago when I was testifying at the County Center in White Plains in favor of the safe storage law now enacted in Westchester, I noticed a neighbor standing just in front of me. He asked why I was there and when I told him I supported the proposed law, he informed me he was testifying against it, was a life long member of the NRA and had many guns in his home that he stored safely. I was surprised but later realized that with 200 million guns in circulation in this country, some of them were bound to be here in town.
With that many guns in our country, improperly stored weapons remains an important problem for all parents to address. PAX is an advocacy organization founded in 1997 by Daniel Gross when his brother was the victim of a random shooting on the top of the Empire State Building. PAX (www.paxusa.org) developed a very successful program called “ASK” which encourages parents to ask their neighbors, friends and family members if there is a gun where my children play.
As responsible parents we often ask how our children will be supervised when visiting another house, what kind of foods are served, and what kind of television is permitted. It is even more important to ask if there is a gun in the home – so that you can judge for yourself the safety measures you accept as reasonable for your child and whether you want your child playing in a home where there is a gun.
New Yorkers Against Gun Violence provides speakers for community events and materials and information are available from PAX for any PTA wishing to present a program.
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