Volume 23, Number 4 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | June 4 - 10, 2010
Potential new school on top of Peck Slip Post Office
By Helaina N. Hovitz
If the Peck Slip Post Office remains, they’d like to see a school as their new neighbor.
The Post Office announced last week they expect the facility to stay at its current site, though the final decision lies in the hands of whoever buys the building, which is currently up for grabs.
The post office also announced a strong desire to share their space with a potential new school. The community, with a few exceptions, appears to approve.
The Department of Education and the New York City School Construction Authority have officially deemed the site an acceptable location for the erection of a school building.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has already contacted Senator Chuck Schumer in hopes that Schumer will intercede on a federal level by asking the post office not to offer the building in the open-bid process. Silver said that in addition to seeking Schumer’s assistance in brokering a deal, he has also been pressing the federal government to sell the building to the Department of Education.
“I am extremely enthusiastic about the prospect of a new school opening in the Peck Slip Post Office building,” said Silver. “As more families move into Lower Manhattan, my School Overcrowding Task Force will continue to work to reduce class sizes and improve the quality of our schools.”
If the plan proves successful, the city will be able to purchase the building, maintain the retail post office space on the first floor, and convert the rest of the building into a school. If the building is purchased by an alternative entity, the post office risks being eliminated entirely. There are significant air rights to the building, and if an outside entity builds on the site, the community could end up with yet another new high-rise building.
A large-scale middle school would make many parents in the community happy, especially the ones who have been pushing for a neighborhood middle school for several years. However, some fear that a middle school would become yet another “target area” for rowdy Murray Bergtraum students.
Incidents involving M.B. students around Southbridge Towers and on neighboring streets have become more frequent in recent years, which is why one resident, who asked to remain anonymous, strongly opposes building a school on the site. “I’m afraid the Murray Bergtraum kids will bully the younger middle school kids, and we’d have even more problems, which may be fought out in our courtyard by Squires [restaurant], since it’s in the middle,” she said.
Tricia Joyce, a public school parent and member of Silver’s School Overcrowding Task Force, is all for the school, and as soon as possible.
“They proposed an elementary school, since it’s our most alarming and greatest immediate need. We need two elementary schools and a middle school right away,” she said.
Though Joyce has not seen the space, she hopes something can be done “extremely quickly and affordably.”
CB 1 Chair Julie Menin is also in favor of a new school at the site. Menin said she and Silver are pushing hard to get the new school built. She said the district still does not have enough seats because of the population explosion in Lower Manhattan, even with the two new schools that have just opened.
“The Board of Ed has indicated they have funding in place, and the school construction authority has indicated they are interested in the space as well,” said Menin. “We will be working relentlessly to make this school on Peck Slip a reality for our CB 1 kids.”