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Editorial: If not there, where?

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About 25 people came to a public hearing at Cardozo High School in Bayside to discuss a proposal to build three schools on the campus of the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center. The plans include a 650-seat primary school, a 900-seat intermediate school and a 1,000-seat high school in a borough where 9,500 new seats are needed. Do the arithmetic. This proposal is a no-brainer.

The arguments put forth by those opposing the plans of the School Construction Authority were not impressive. Some worried that the increased traffic created by buses and other transportation bringing in 2,500 students each day would be disruptive. There's bound to be some impact on traffic patterns, but the students will be arriving after most people have gone to work and will leave before they get home. This will have little impact on the quality of life for nearby residents.

In addition, it should be noted that Creedmoor was a busy hospital that had its own impact on traffic. Nevertheless, city planners should meet with local residents to come up with a plan to minimize any inconvenience caused by the traffic.

Others questioned whether it was a good idea to have students ranging in age from 5 to 18 on the same campus. Although this could become a problem, it has its advantages. Parents may find that they like the continuity that comes when children go from kindergarten all the way through high school at the same location. There is a long waiting list to get children into a similar public school in Staten Island.

From a fiscal point of view, it's hard to argue with this proposal. We assume that the cost of renovating the Creedmoor campus will be a fraction of what it would be to acquire new property - if such a site could be found in this part of Queens - and build the schools from scratch.

Ultimately, we can think of no neighborhood in Queens where new schools would not be seen at best as a mixed blessing. Violence and drugs are problems even at high rated high schools such as Bayside and Cardozo. On the other hand, a state-of the-art campus with room for sports fields can only add to property values.

But all of that comes second. The bottom line is that Queens needs new schools yesterday. And we can think of no site better suited than the Creedmoor campus.

Graffiti blight

At a meeting called by the College Point Board of Trade, local residents and merchants voiced their frustration with graffiti vandals. In neighborhoods throughout Queens, patience is running thin and people want to put an end to this problem. Unfortunately, the 109th Precinct did not recognize the importance of the College Point meeting and failed to send a representative.

There were some valuable suggestions made such as calling for tougher sanctions against graffiti vandals, including making them perform community service and pay for the damage they have done. It also makes sense that property owners should paint over graffiti as soon as it appears.

There were some silly notions expressed. For example, one person complained that the vandalism occurs because there are not enough activities for young people. Boredom does not give anyone the right to destroy another person's property. Someone else suggested that the little vandals need a place like the Phun Factory in Long Island City, which has become a kind of museum for aging graffiti vandals.

Such well-intentioned measures send a mixed message. Graffiti is a crime and it should be treated that way. It's not art and the people who do it are not artists - they're criminals.

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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