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City still doesn’t know what its doing with Atlantic Yards school

Schoolhouse block! Still no lesson plan for Atlantic Yards school

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Workers are breaking ground on construction of a new public school in the mega-development formerly known as Atlantic Yards — but the city still hasn’t made up its mind about who will roam its halls.

Local parents and pols have been pushing for months to stick a new middle school in the Pacific Park space — and want the city to make a commitment now so it can build with tween students in mind. But the education department says it is still considering going with an elementary school.

“No decision has been made yet,” said spokesman Harry Hartfield.

Developer Greenland Forest City Partners this week unveiled broad designs for 616-desk school, alongside the condo building at Dean Street and Sixth Avenue that it will be housed in.

The new tower of learning will span seven stories of the 26-story high-rise — two of which will be underground — and will be connected by a central staircase, according to architect Jonathan Marvel. There will be an outdoor playground on the fourth floor of the building, along with a more grounded play-space on the first floor.

Marvel said he couldn’t give more details — he is also waiting on more instruction from the department.

Education officials originally envisaged the school as a kindergarten though eighth-grade facility. But neighbors rallied together insisting the local school district — which also encompasses Brooklyn Heights, Downtown, Dumbo, Fort Greene, and Clinton Hill — is lacking in dedicated middle-school institutions and that this is the perfect opportunity to make one happen.

They dream of a school that teaches software engineering and robotics, dual-language classes in both French and Spanish, and drama workshops with local theaters — which they hope will stop families moving out of the district so their kids can attend swanky junior highs in other areas.

“People leave the district when their children reach middle school age to be able to send their children to schools in other districts,” said Prospect Heights resident Gib Veconi, a member of civic group the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council.

Hartfield said the department will use feedback at gathered at recent public forums about middle schools in the district to decide what kind of academic institution to build.

Bulldozers razed three townhouses on Dean Street earlier this week in preparation for the project’s construction, which will get underway early next week. The building is slated to open in 2018.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Norman Oder from Brooklyn says:
If you'd attended the public meeting on Wednesday night, you would have seen Marvel's rhapsodic explanations of design run up against hard questions about the drastic change in scale compared to neighboring structures on Dean Street and the building's very tight fit (no curb cuts for deliveries; bus arrival will be a "management issue," etc.).
Dec. 11, 2015, 7:23 am
Norman Oder from Brooklyn says:
PS. Here's my coverage: http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/2015/12/664-pacific-unveiling-runs-into.html
Dec. 11, 2015, 7:23 am
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
Hey Norman Oder --
There SHOULD be a drastic change in scale... period. This is a major transportation network hub in the heart of a major city. early-20th century row houses may not be an appropriate design anymore.

Other issues you mention are actually a bit more important -- delivery and bus staging areas. However, this could also be fixed by removing free/subsidized parking and restricting the block to traffic and pick-up/drop-off.
Dec. 11, 2015, 9:54 am
Peter Krashes from Prospect Heights says:
The call for a middle school is more accurately described as from parents with existing children in the public system, than it is "neighbors." There is a need for both more elementary capacity in the immediate area and quality middle school options, but there is existing middle school capacity. The elementary schools zoned in the area are already over capacity and the project will be adding a great many more elementary students to the system than middle school students. The issues are complicated, so it is understandable press coverage has been incomplete in this respect.

Another thing that is helpful for context is that the number of schools seats being created -- around 600 -- is far short of the number of students being generated by the project and less than a third of the number of elementary students alone. The number of seats of the school was approved in 2006 when there was available capacity in local schools and its opening was tied to the point when a shortfall in seats was anticipated to arise; it is a project "mitigation." In my view, during the 2014 SEIS process the State and City should have identified that the shortfall was larger and timed sooner in the project's residential development and squeezed the developer to increase the mitigation and create more school seats. Either I am misunderstanding something, they missed the problem, or they just didn't do the squeezing.

The same thing happened with the school location. The opening of the school was originally tied in theory to the point a shortfall in capacity was anticipated to occur (for elementary students I believe). But with the delay in the residential development, and the change in the construction sequence of the project, the timing of the school had to be earlier in the development sequence. In fact, while the environmental commitments don't reflect any change, we know from public documents that last year the developer felt the opening of the first residential building would create the first adverse impact. But they didn't put the school in the first building to be opened (likely 550 Vanderbilt -- I don't think a bad location for a school at all) but instead in this building which has to be one of the most difficult from a functional point of view, (and perhaps one of the easiest to sacrifice to the public from a value point of view?). It will be the six or seventh residential building opened, and only the second phase project building without a ground floor feeding into the project's open space, (ok, they have created a small ground floor open space behind the building), right across from a fire station, and on 6th Avenue which is often snarled during rush hour. It wasn't reassuring to hear the architect basically say, "we build and manage the problems afterwards." What that may mean is that the public and the community may be dealt a hardship moving forward, and they'll let us know once they have made their choices between the bad options they have created for us.
Dec. 11, 2015, 11:54 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
What's there to expect from this school that is being planned in this project? Many of those who pushed for this project never really looked into it let alone knew what Ratner was really planning. Now, they got what they deserved for believing him. The neighborhood already can't handle the existing infrastructure, and this complex will just make it worse than it already is unless something is done now. Meanwhile, the number of construction workers erecting those buildings has decreased lately despite the promise of thousands of construction jobs being given. All I can say about this project is basically this, "Don't look at me, I was against it when it was originally being planned."
Dec. 11, 2015, 5:11 pm
ty from pps says:
And Ratner thanks you, Tal.
Dec. 11, 2015, 6:01 pm
What the heck from Atlantic Yards says:
Biggest scam going on run by Empire State Development and former Brooklyn Partnership President now hack at ESD, Joe Chan and rev/preacher Marion Phillips from ESD. Something really shady going on and Rev Philips keeps talking out of his big booty at all meetings.
Dec. 12, 2015, 12:04 am
Shirley from Cobble Hill says:
Chan and Philips are both ho's. They represent the diversity we demand in these government expedited developer land grabs: Chan is the Asian American ho, Philips is the African American ho.
Dec. 14, 2015, 11:38 am
Gib Veconi from Prospect Heights says:
While the Atlantic Yards environmental impact statement forecasts shortfalls in both elementary and middle school seats in the area, those forecasts cover a period of time that minimally extends ten years into the future. Since both shortfalls are projected to be greater than the 616 seats to be provided in the B15 building, the DOE will in any case be required to add more seats elsewhere over the next decade. However, we have a middle school gap now. The B15 school represents the best opportunity to close that gap, and that is why Community Board 8, Community Education Council 13, and every Brooklyn elected official representing District 13 supports locating a middle school there.
Dec. 24, 2015, 8:59 am
Peter Krashes from Prospect Heights says:
The number of elementary students added by the project, and the risk elementary students will have a meaningful adverse impact within the public school system, far exceeds that of middle school students. That is true in the immediate future and in the long term. At stake are overcrowded and potentially less diverse elementary schools, and zoned elementary schools further from home than standards DOE thinks are appropriate. So what's the plan?

Any reference to a "middle school gap now" is apparently related to what is perceived to be a lack of "quality" options, not school capacity, because currently there is open middle school capacity in District 13. On the other hand the elementary schools zoned for the area are over capacity.
Jan. 9, 2016, 10:58 am

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