Volume 21, Number 10 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | July 18 - 24, 2008

Townley guarantees space to P.S. 234 in September

With six weeks to go before the start of the school year, Bob Townley is pushing hard to squeeze two classrooms for P.S. 234 into the recently opened Manhattan Youth Downtown Community Center.

“It’s a lot of heavy lifting, but I’ll guarantee it’s going to happen,” Townley, the youth group’s executive director, promised Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee Tuesday night.

P.S. 234 would use the classrooms as art and science “cluster” rooms, freeing up more space in the adjacent main school building for this fall’s large influx of kindergarteners. If parents’ projections are correct, the school could soon top 1,000 students.

Townley is navigating a lengthy bureaucratic process to get the rooms in his center approved as classrooms. He expects the Department of Education to make him an offer for the space this week, but he said even if it is above market value, it won’t compensate for his loss of programming space.

Townley opened the center with preliminary programs in June, but he plans to roll out a full set of activities this fall. Having classroom space in the center for two years will interfere with those plans and will make it more difficult for Manhattan Youth to compete with future community centers, Townley said, but he said he is willing to provide space for the school.

“We’re really grateful,” Liat Silberman, president of P.S. 234’s P.T.A., started to tell Townley.

Townley wouldn’t let her finish.

“Don’t thank me,” he said. “That is what a community center does.”

-- Julie Shapiro




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