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Pols Want Riverside School Named After Longtime Activist

By Emily Frost | November 21, 2013 5:50pm
 A group of elected officials representing the UWS wants to name the new Riverside School after Madeleine F. Polayes. 
New School Should be Named After UWS Activist, Elected Officials Say
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UPPER WEST SIDE — The new K-8 school planned for the Riverside Center and brokered through negotiations with the site's developer is still years from opening, but local elected officials are eager to name it after a well-known neighborhood activist.

A group of politicans is asking that the school be named in honor of local activist Madeleine F. Polayes, who died in February at 87 and was a tireless advocate for numerous local causes. 

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, State Senators Adriano Espaillat and Brad Hoylman, Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal and City Councilwoman Gale Brewer all signed a Nov. 18 letter to the Department of Education asking for the honorary school naming. 

In their letter, the Upper West Side representatives wrote that Polayes "fought tirelessly to improve the lives of her neighbors on the West Side and throughout the city over the course of her entire life."  

Polayes founded the Coalition for a Liveable West Side in 1981, which advocates against neighborhood overdevelopment, among other issues, and tried to stop development of Riverside South in the '90s because she thought it would interfere with the North River Sewage Treatment plant, The New York Times reported.

She originally did not support the development of luxury housing at Riverside South, which ultimately agreed to build the school in question.

Earlier in her career, she fought for affordable housing on the Mayor's Committee on Urban Renewal from 1958-1965, and helped develop moderate income cooperatives, the politicians' letter said. 

She began her career as a guidance counselor in Queens in 1953, "working to integrate autistic children into the mainstream school system," the letter added. She also "was known as a tireless advocate for abuse victims," it said.

The elected officials said they're aware that deliberation about the school naming will not start until 2015, a year before the school opens, but that "the conversation should begin today."   

The DOE did not immediately return a request for comment.