How disappointing to learn that “Council OKs school at Keil Brothers site” (Domenick Rafter, Nov. 21, multiple editions). Keil Brothers Inc., established in 1930 as a flower shop, grew into a well-respected, full-service garden center.
The owners of Keil Brothers had annual revenue in the millions and they provided gainful employment to over a dozen people. Many are our neighbors. Both the owner and employees pay taxes like the rest of us. They also generate employment for many suppliers, along with gardeners and landscapers who purchase their products. With 8 percent of residents out of work, 7 percent who have given up looking and many more looking to upgrade from minimum-wage or part-time jobs, the last thing we need is to drive more stores such as Keil Brothers out of business.
Many residents oppose construction of a school on this site for good reasons. It is primarily a residential neighborhood with two other schools located only blocks away.
The site rests along two major bus routes, and is next to a large thoroughfare in an area made up mostly of narrow residential streets. These capacity-constrained streets will be negatively impacted by both school buses and parents dropping off their kids during rush hour taxing strained city resources. Street crossing for students could be dangerous.
The City Council approved this new school by a vote of 36-2. Only aspiring candidate for Council Speaker Mark Weprin and outgoing Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. voted no. Weprin was unable to convince 49 other Council members to protect a thriving business and residential neighborhood. How effective would he be as the next Council speaker? Perhaps there are better candidates for than Weprin, ones who can protect small businesses and the residential neighborhoods which make up the heart of New York City.