Thousands of Queens families rely on Beacon after-school programs to give their children a safe place to go while they’re at work, a place to learn, to socialize, have fun and stay out of trouble.
Two of those programs, located at JHS 190 in Forest Hills and MS 158 in Bayside, are slated for closure at the end of the fiscal year, which runs through June 30. Together they cost about $700,000 to run. Combined with other closures in other boroughs, the shutdowns are expected to save the city $2.1 million.
What the cost to society will be is unclear.
The same goes for the cost of having fewer police on the street, fewer firefighters on the job, fewer teachers in the classroom, fewer arts and music programs, fewer schools being built with gyms.
All because of a lack of money.
And yet while the city is cutting programs like the Beacons — driving hundreds of protesters into the streets and furthering their cynicism about the government — it’s also funding a useless, $14 million addition to Borough Hall. An atrium.
The powers that be need a nice place to gather as they plot new ways to spend your money on other questionable undertakings, you see. And they need something they can put a plaque on bearing Borough President Helen Marshall’s name after she completes her time in office. This is her trophy project.
We believe Borough Hall is large enough as it is. And those left in Queens who still have some aesthetic taste know that however the atrium is designed, it won’t match the existing building. It will look like the add-on it will be. Not that Borough Hall is the prettiest thing; it’s clearly an institutional building, but it has the imposing grace and symmetry of its kind. It’s a case of form following function, the way design should be.
Incidentally, the project has already cost Queens some beauty, as a grove of cherry trees is coming down to make way for it. In full bloom. Nice timing.
Officials will tell you the money’s already allocated and can’t be diverted elsewhere. But new laws can always be written redirecting funding. Choose which you prefer your taxes spent on, vital services or trophy projects, and let your City Council member know.
It’s about priorities, people. Priorities.