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Letters: LaGuardia upgrade isn't worth it

LaGuardia is a postage stamp-size airport with short runways. After spending $4 billion on renovations, New York will still have a dysfunctional facility ["Flying high at LaGuardia," Editorial, July 28].

Here are two better ideas. Put some of that investment into Long Island MacArthur Airport, either by moving a terminal closer to the Long Island Rail Road or by building a rail connector from the Ronkonkoma station to the present terminal.

Then, reallocate the gates at LaGuardia to MacArthur. Close LaGuardia and re-purpose this real estate into taxable properties by allowing residential or industrial use. I estimate the net cost at $1 billion.

Stewart Airport in Newburgh is a first-class facility that is under-utilized because people think 60 miles is too far away. The real problem is not distance, but time. If we could move passengers from Manhattan to Stewart in less time than it takes to go from Manhattan to LaGuardia, then Stewart would be viable.

If we built a maglev link from Grand Central Terminal to Stewart, the travel time would be 30 minutes. I estimate the cost at less than $3 billion.

Instead of squandering enormous amounts of cash on an airport project that will be marginally better, we could take two excellent airports and make them more accessible for the same or lower cost.

At the same time, the LaGuardia property will enhance city tax collections when repurposed to new uses.

Ernest Fazio, Centerport

Editor's note: The writer is the chairman of Long Island Metro Business Action, a business organization.

'Blue Ribbon' prize not worth the time

I wish to express my strong concern regarding the recent article on the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program and, more specifically, the comments of an elementary school principal that she had to spend 60 hours of her valuable time to complete the application [" 'Blue Ribbon' blues," News, Aug. 3].

As a retired principal, I'm very familiar with the program and the external pressure to participate and be recognized. However, not only the principal, but also the faculty, support staff, community and PTA, spend time on the application.

This work drains time from where it belongs: serving the children. That means attending staff development workshops to further professional growth, participating in collegial circles to study educational issues, obtaining appropriate educational services for children and maintaining communication with and involvement of parents.

These are our priorities as educators, not giving in to outside political pressure for artificial recognition. I urge my fellow educators to rethink the value of this huge time commitment. Instead, I would recommend using components of the application for internal review with school improvement teams to assess identified areas of educational concern and develop an action plan.

Louis Brill, Smithtown

Planned Parenthood essential to LI

The attacks on Planned Parenthood have hit a new low ["A goal for both sides on abortion," Opinion, Aug. 12].

Spurred on by deceptive, dishonest videos released by anti-abortion activists over the past weeks, extremists have hacked into the Planned Parenthood website, blocking thousands from getting the health care information they need. More than 200,000 people visit Planned Parenthood websites each day for important information about reproductive and sexual health care, including where to find a local health center for breast and cervical cancer screenings or birth control.

Our opposition in Congress has wasted no time in attacking Planned Parenthood, either. Already, politicians have begun to use this video campaign to justify legislation to defund Planned Parenthood, which would cut off essential, lifesaving reproductive and family planning health care and information to more than 80,000 women, men and teens a year on Long Island.

Planned Parenthood is the most trusted women's health care provider in this country, and nothing is more important than the health and safety of our patients. The tens of thousands of people in our communities who depend on us for high-quality, low-cost reproductive health care and medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education should never be deprived of the services and programs Planned Parenthood provides.

JoAnn D. Smith and Reina Schiffrin

Editor's note: The writers are the chief executives of Planned Parenthood of Nassau County and Planned Parenthood of Hudson Peconic, respectively.


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