Many local residents may be surprised, as was the Manhattan Borough President, to discover that the Department of Education (DOE) is planning to destroy some local school buildings.
The DOE has plans to completely demolish three schools, on the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side: the School of Technical Co-Op Education on East 96th Street between First and Second Avenues, P.S. 191 on Amsterdam and 61st Street, and P.S. 199 on West 70th Street and West End Avenue.
The redevelopment plan, created by the DOE, along with the New York School Construction Authority and the New York City Educational Construction Fund, has left the public in the dark. Parents, teachers and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer have been up in arms because the DOE has not provided the public with any information on the redesign of these schools. According to Stringer, the DOE owns these parcels of land, so they are not subject to the uniform land use review process, or a public review of the land use. These questions might remain unanswered.
“These agencies should contact the schools and parents immediately and answer their questions,” said Stringer, who sent a letter to the DOE about the issue. “What is their timeline for prospective development? What is the neighborhood impact? What are their plans? We need to have a discussion.”
Stringer said that he is just as much in the dark about the proposal as the school districts themselves. “And I’m the borough president!” he said.“We have to be mindful that major development would increase traffic, impact the character of the neighborhood and add a new population to area that already lacks school seats,” said Stringer.
The borough president said that these schools in particular are experiencing major overcrowding, and that school overpopulation is something that both he and the DOE have been trying to curb. This, he said, is probably why they are looking to redesign the schools. However, he emphasized, that until there is some transparency, they will not know for sure.
Another mystery that parents may be wondering about is why demolish these schools in the first place? In total, the city has spent almost $21,000,000 improving and refurbishing these schools, including exterior repairs for P.S. 191 and capital improvements for P.S. 199 and the School for Cooperative Technical Education.
“We have already contributed major capital dollars to these schools, so why are we investing all of this money to completely rebuild the schools?” said Stringer.
The DOE has yet to respond to Stringer’s letter requesting more information, as well as answers for the community.
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