SCHOOL EXPANSION CLEARS HURDLE

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Community Board 7’s landmark committee approved Columbia Grammar & Prep’s rear-yard expansion Dec. 10. The committee voted unanimously in favor of a new proposal that members felt was contextual with the surrounding buildings.

Columbia Grammar ditched plans for a glass enclosure opposed by neighbors of the school, which owns several buildings on West 94th Street between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West.

At an October community board meeting, nearby residents told board members that the project would disrupt the character of the “donut”—the collective backyards of a landmarked block that forms a rectangle of green space.

Residents also complained that a glass-enclosed school space would add intrusive light after school hours and allow kids to play right outside their windows.

The newly-planned 16-foot brick enclosure addresses those complaints, said Howard Weiss, a lawyer and spokesperson for the school.

“Columbia Grammar, in deference to those concerns, went back and studied an alternative,” Weiss said. “The children could gather inside the enclosed, covered space.”

The school will also strip layers of paint on the building to bring out the original brick façade.

“[The extension] will have a feel of the original building,” Weiss said.

This project is similar to several others that prompted residents to complain about rear-yard expansions of Upper West Side schools.

The full board is slated to vote on the project at the Jan. 5, 2010 meeting. Board decisions, however, are advisory. The Landmarks Preservation Commission will officially approve or reject the plan.

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