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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New School Q&A

Q: What has an 177,000 fully air-conditioned square feet of space, an auditorium, large rooms, separate rest rooms, and multiple elevator banks; is fully ADA compliant; sits right in the middle of the city’s most overcrowded school district, with the fastest growing population of students; has nonresidential zoning; and is virtually empty?

A: Did you think it might be a future public school? No! According to the State of New York, it is a great thing to tear down to make room for more luxury condos!

75 Morton Street is a building owned by the State of New York, the former NYC regional offices of the NYS Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. In December Assemblymember Deborah Glick noted that it was slated for sale, and put in a call to the Empire State Development Corporation requesting that it be considered as a site for a school. Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott told Assemblymember Glick in a meeting shortly after an RFP was posted for the site at the beginning of July that DOE was trying to negotiate with the ESDC to withdraw it and make the property available to the city for a school. So far there's no sign that ESDC is paying any attention.

The state is swiping this piece of desperately needed real estate out from under the city for what can only be seen as a negligible share of its total budget. The opportunity costs involved with the construction of a new school and the acquisition of a comparably large parcel elsewhere in D2 would seem to obliterate the advantage of an outright sale, but the right hand does not seem to know what the left hand is doing. Meanwhile, parents are pushing hard for middle school space at 75 Morton. D2 middle schools nearly all have class sizes in the 30s and are squashed into the top floors (no wheelchairs up there!) of overcrowded elementary schools.

Parents and local elected officials are planning to rally in support of D2 middle school space at 75 Morton—and to remind the state of our space needs, and the city of our need for middle schools. They hope that the sight of hundreds of parents and children, hungry for school space, in front of a school-ready building, will make it a little harder to tear it down. RALLY: 75 Morton Street, between Greenwich and Washington, August 6, 5:30

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