Volume 17 • Issue 19 | October 01 - 07, 2004

More school and rec center plans unveiled

By Ronda Kaysen

New details about the recent Downtown real estate agreement – including details about the new Downtown East Side K-8 school and the planned community rec center— came to light at a Sept. 28 Community Board 1 youth committee meeting.

The city is considering three possible sites for the new Downtown school, all on the East Side, according to committee chair Paul Hovitz. The parking lot at 250 Water St. is among the possibilities, according to several sources; the other two sites have yet to be disclosed. According to Hovitz, a decision will be reached by the end of the year.

The zoning catchment area for the school – which has been the source of much anxiety and speculation by neighborhood parents – will not be decided until a year before the school opens, in accordance with the Dept. of Ed. procedure, although Hovitz indicated the possibility of an earlier decision. Whatever the specific parameters, “it will be zoned for the community,” said Hovitz. In all likelihood, the school will give priority to the East Side, which has far fewer schools than the West Side, Hovitz said.

Despite calls from West Side parents, the city has no plans to zone I.S. 89, a Battery Park City middle school, because of its small size – it seats only 100 students — added Hovitz.

The real estate deal, reached between City Councilmember Alan Gerson and Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, provides a much-needed 10,000-square-foot annex for the overcrowded P.S. 234 in Tribeca. It will likely house the school’s pre-K and kindergarten classes as well as pre-K students from neighboring P.S. 89.

Plans for a 30,000-square-foot rec center with a gym and a regulation-size pool in the same building as the P.S. 234 annex will require a capital campaign of more than $6 million to build the site. The center will include a mid-sized pool and “very nice facilities for certain things,” said Bob Townley executive director of Manhattan Youth a nonprofit organization that runs recreation and cultural programs for middle- and high-school students in Lower Manhattan. The new center will not, however, have a full-sized gym.

Raising the needed cash will be challenging because many charitable organizations assume 9/11 relief funds have been set aside for all Downtown groups, according to Townley. “We are not connected to these troughs,” he said of Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and 9/11 fund monies. “In some ways, it works against us.”


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