Volume 21, Number 9 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | July 11 - 17, 2008

City is ‘seriously examining’ 75 Morton St. for new school

By Gabriel Zucker

The outlook for middle schools in the West Village got significantly brighter last week when Assemblymember Deborah Glick convened a meeting with Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, public school parents and Community Board 2 representatives to discuss overcrowding and the possibility of putting a new middle school at 75 Morton St.

Walcott, deputy mayor for policy, serves as the mayor’s liaison to the Department of Education and the School Construction Authority.

The 75 Morton St. property, located between Hudson and Greenwich Sts., is currently owned by New York State and houses a state agency, the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, which is being moved to another location. The state has issued a request for proposals, or R.F.P., to sell the property, but the city reportedly may intervene.

At a meeting, Walcott and Terrance Tolbert, an Education official, said the city is seriously examining 75 Morton St. as a possible public school site, which Brad Hoylman, C.B. 2 chairperson, called “excellent news.”

On Tuesday, a City Hall spokesperson said that it had been a “productive meeting” and that Walcott and Glick “are exploring a variety of options to address the needs of the local community.” The spokesperson did not comment on the 75 Morton St. property specifically.

At the meeting, Glick argued that 75 Morton St. was a prime candidate for a school because the property “belongs to the people.” A petition in support of the school with 700 local parent signatures was also presented to Walcott.

Because area middle schools — especially Greenwich Village Middle School, which is housed in the nearby P.S. 3 building and is at 117 percent capacity — are severely overcrowded, there is a pressing need for a new middle school. The large, seven-story Morton St. building meets all the specifications for a public school, according to the idea’s supporters.

In addition, plans to create three new public high schools on Pier 40, at W. Houston St., were also discussed at the meeting, along with overcrowding at P.S. 234 in Tribeca and the proposed Foundling school site at 17th St. and Sixth Ave. in Chelsea.

Hoylman felt the meeting was very successful.

“It’s really gratifying to see progress being made on this issue,” he said. “C.B. 2 is extremely grateful to Assemblymember Glick for her leadership, the deputy mayor and his colleagues at D.O.E. for their receptiveness to the community’s concerns, and all of our local elected officials and public school parents for continuing to keep up the pressure on school overcrowding.”




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