It quickly became apparent at Wednesday morning’s hearing on the city’s controversial Randall’s Island plan that private schools were already hogging the available playing fields on the island.
Some 95 percent of the weekday after-school permits are controlled by private schools; public schools get just two or three fields a week, according to Sabina Ellentuck, director of Randall’s Island Kids & Community.
Why? Because of a Parks Department “tradition” of grandfathering each permit holder from one season to the next, and the private schools were the ones who first migrated to the island years ago.
So, how about ending that tradition and giving priority to public schools to use the present fields there?
“I would suffer the fate of the Czar and his family if I were to get rid of the grandfather clause,” Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe told The Real Estate after he came under fiery cross-examination by City Council members who didn’t like the way a renovation plan gave precedence to private schools. “I would be lined up in a room and shot.”
“Probably the City Council would come after me. The grandfathering creates a reliable way for leagues to know they are going to have fields on which to play each year: all the Little Leagues, all the Catholic schools, all the public schools, all the adult leagues, all the corporate leagues.”
- Matthew Schuerman