More Free Parking, Less Concern for Safety Confirmed

So You Thought the Story About PS/IS 217 and the Trees Couldn't Get Worse... Guess Again

Peter McCarthy
Free Parking on the School Lawn Where Trees Were Removed
Free Parking on the School Lawn Where Trees Were Removed
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Discouraged by the lack of response from elected and other officials, I'd decided to let the issue of PS/IS 217 thoughtless destruction of healthy trees slide for a while. But in the absence of any oversight from RIOC, Ben Kallos, Gale Brewer or the Board of Education, the school bluntly took another step toward becoming Roosevelt Island's worst neighbor.

Committed to concentrating on other Island news now that it was clear that RIOC could not be counted on do anything about the obvious safety issues and that City Council Member Ben Kallos's environmental interests extended no farther than political expediency, I still found what I saw at PS/IS 217 last week impossible to ignore.

Thumbing its symbolic nose at expressed community objections, the school extended its free parking privileges, as cynics expected, to fill up lawn space where healthy trees were destroyed.

  • Debris from the cutting and mulching was never cleaned up, leaving chips and bare stumps to litter the landscape.
  • Roots that school principal Mandana Beckman claimed as the cause for destroying the trees remain untouched, the "trip hazards" she identified now increased by five large stumps.
  • Although Beckman cited rats as another reason for destroying the trees, the school routinely leaves plastic bags of garbage and untended food litter in the open every weekend.
  • Cars parked for free now obscure even the commemorative plaque established for a tree planted in honor of groundbreaking African American playwright and Roosevelt Island pioneer Alice Childress, that tree also yanked out without explanation.
  • More than two dozen cars parked for free continue to narrow the access alley between the school and Manhattan Park's Section 8 housing. For its part, Manhattan Park carefully positions trash containers and vehicles outside the curbs where emergency vehicles may need to go. The school's indifference is casual, persistent and ignored by Public Safety.

The PTA, iDig2Learn and Ben Kallos, all one-time champions of PS/IS 217 Green Roofs campaign remain silent, willing to ignore callous disregard for environmental and community concerns.

Expect it to get worse.