Volume 20 Issue 21 | October 5 - 11 2007

Dogs not 2B displaced for school plans

By Skye H. McFarlane

Battery Park City dogs are on solid ground, but school children still hang in limbo, a B.P.C. Authority staffer told community members Tuesday night.

The authority’s community liaison, Leticia Remauro, chided members of the media and Community Board 1 for “jumping the gun” last week in announcing that a new public school on Site 2B was a fait accompli. Worries that school preparations would temporarily cut into the West Thames St. dog run were also premature, Remauro said.

“We thought we were going to have to move things quickly, but that didn’t happen,” Remauro said. “So we didn’t need to put anything on public space — which is a good thing.”

Last week both C.B. 1 members and authority chairperson James Gill said that a deal with the School Construction Authority to put a new public school on the undeveloped Battery Place lot was imminent. Supporting this claim was the fact that authority staffers were scrambling to relocate the current Site 2B uses — the B.P.C. Parks Conservancy’s equipment and a sales trailer for the Visionaire condo next door. On Wed., Sept. 26, Remauro said that the authority was thinking of places to move the equipment for the school.

While the conservancy’s equipment would be headed to storage in the Hudson River Park and in Brooklyn, local dog owners were alarmed when the W. Thames run was scouted as a temporary spot for the sales trailer. Remauro said the run was considered because it was flat, made of asphalt and close to the condo construction site.

Dog owners —159 of them — signed a petition asking that the run not be shrunk in any way. They were largely pacified when Remauro told them Tuesday that the dog run is no longer “on the table” because the school deal has not yet happened. Although the authority is still hoping to hammer out a deal with the S.C.A. soon, it seems as though the S.C.A. will need the site by fall 2008 at the earliest, and not by the summer, as some authority officials said last week.

By the fall, Remauro said, the Visionaire will be able to accommodate all of its trailers within its own site, so public space would not be needed. The conservancy equipment will still be moved as scheduled. But if anything changes, Remauro said she hoped that everyone in the community would move forward with a “spirit of cooperation.”

“At some point in time, we all may have to give a little bit to make this school happen,” Remauro said, later adding that the apparent division between school advocates and dog owners was “not helpful” to the ongoing school negotiations.

School advocates were unhappy to hear that a deal for the school had been pushed back.

“What you speak to implies a slight postponement in the contracting,” board member Tom Goodkind told Remauro.

“Please don’t read it like that,” Remauro responded, later implying that the authority is still prepared to get off 2B by the summer, if it becomes necessary.

“You’re talking about two government entities [the authority and the S.C.A.] moving quickly to get something done,” Remauro said. “It’s almost an oxymoron.”

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