You would think that after six years in office, the Bloomberg Administration would not be so ham-fisted.
But recent days have again reminded us that the Mayor, for all his strengths, riches, leadership skills and subway-riding, is tone deaf to the way his decisions play out on the streets of this town.
In Park Slope, the mayor’s hauteur exploded in two separate, but related, instances.
In the first case, the Department of Transportation quietly made it known that it intended to turn Sixth and Seventh avenues into one-way streets — and in doing so, blindsided the very residents whose support it would need.
Park Slope soundly rejected the proposal — but not entirely because the plan didn’t make sense. No, mostly the residents were upset at how the DOT, which is obviously under pressure to fix the coming traffic nightmare of Atlantic Yards, dumped the plan on the neighborhood without prior consultation.
Then, last week, also without any prior notification, Department of Education officials came to a PTA meeting at PS 282 and announced that the up-and-coming elementary school would have to make room for a brand new Arabic-language and culture middle school.
PS 282 parents were livid — in large measure because Education officials, like those at the DOT, dumped the Khalil Gibran International Academy on the neighborhood without prior consultation.
Parents rallied last week, complaining that their school actually doesn’t have any spare rooms and that it is inappropriate to house middle-school kids with kindergarteners.
Certainly the principal of the Arabic school, Debbie Almontaser, has not done her program any favors by not returning calls. Like the Bloomberg Administration, Almontaser needs to learn, right now, that being open and accessible is the best way to earn the trust and support of the very people whose trust and support you need.
That said, we aren’t prepared to say that both the Department of Education and the Department of Transportation plans are completely misguided. There still needs to be a larger discussion of whether the Gibran Academy is even appropriate, whether in Park Slope or any neighborhood. And certainly there needs to be a way to calm Brooklyn’s borough-wide traffic problems that doesn’t resemble a patch, as does the Sixth and Seventh avenue proposal.
In every instance, though, the city needs to treat its stakeholders with respect instead of thinking it can steamroll legitimate local concerns.
©2007 Community News Group
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