Volume 16 • Issue 18 | Sept 30 - Oct 06, 2003

Board looks to hospital site for school

By Elizabeth O’Brien

Community Board 1 officials are looking toward a parking lot in Lower Manhattan as a possible site for a new public elementary and middle school to help alleviate overcrowding in local classrooms.

The parking-lot site, bordered by Spruce, Beekman, Nassau and Gold Sts., is owned by N.Y.U. Downtown Hospital. At their monthly meeting last week, members of the youth and education committee of C.B. 1 discussed a draft of a resolution calling upon the hospital and the city to incorporate a new school into their plans for the site.

“We have the best opportunity to get something built quickly and large on this site,” said Paul Goldstein, the district manager of C.B. 1.

C.B. 1 officials say the hospital is looking to pick a developer for the site, which is also expected to contain hospital offices.

Local services must keep pace with the rising population in Lower Manhattan, community members have said. Neighborhood classrooms are fuller than ever this fall, and many worry that the crowding will only get worse with at least 8,173 new residential units currently in development south of Canal St.

Community leaders hope to create separate elementary and middle schools on the same location, like P.S./I.S. 89 in Battery Park City, which have different principals but share a building. But unlike I.S. 89, the new intermediate school would give admissions preference to local students, said Paul Hovitz, chairperson of the youth and education committee.

A spokesperson for N.Y.U. Downtown Hospital declined to comment on the hospital’s plans for the site.

Cora Fung, the director of special projects for N.Y.U. Downtown Hospital, would only say, “The hospital places great emphasis on the needs and wishes of the community it has proudly served for the past 150 years.”

The location is an urban renewal site whose designation is set to expire in April of 2004, according to Janel Patterson, a spokesperson for the city’s Economic Development Corporation. Even so, plans for the site must undergo some sort of public approval process, Patterson said, because of an agreement made when the city transferred the property to the hospital.

The board likes the hospital site since it would be on the east side of the district and the other grade schools in the C.B. 1 area, P.S. 234, P.S. 150 and P.S./I.S. 89, are on or west of Greenwich St.

In November, the city’s School Construction Authority will release its five-year capital plan with projections for new school construction. School officials have declined to comment on whether they planned to build any new schools in Lower Manhattan.

Madelyn Wils, chairperson of Community Board 1, said at last week’s meeting that the board has lobbied for inclusion in the city’s school building plans.

“If we don’t get on the list, I think we should take a very, very hard stand,” Wils said.

It would be “incredibly hypocritical” of the city to promote residential construction Downtown without providing enough support for the growing community, Wils added.



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