By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
EAST VILLAGE — A local elementary school is making a last-ditch attempt to convince the city to allow it to relocate to a new building, citing the discovery of possibly-toxic oil in the soil underneath their building.
East Village Community School principal Robin Williams wrote a letter to school officials over the weekend warning of a "serious environmental and structural crisis" for her staff and students in light of the discovery of the oil beneath the school's auditorium, and added that the possible contamination should give the school first dibs on an available school space just up the street.
"We don't yet know the scope of the crisis or how extensive the work to abate this contamination and to repair the structural damage will be. But it is clear that the disruption to the three schools in this building will have a tremendous negative impact," Williams wrote in her March 5 letter to the Education Department's District 1 Superintendent, along with other local school officials.
"Given the current crisis in the P.S. 61 building, we want to insist that the East Village Community School be reconsidered for the space," she added in the letter.
The Department of Education did not return repeated request for comment.
Williams has been pushing to secure space in the East Side Community High School at 420 E. 12th St. But the Girls Prep Charter School is said to be very close to securing Education Department approval to move its own middle school grades to that building.
The space is currently housing the Ross Global Academy charter school, which lost its charter and will cease to operate at that location at the end of the school year. A vote on which school will fill the space is expected to be taken on Mar. 23.
"Whatever's available in terms of space, we need to be considered," said Williams, whose letter was presented at a public meeting Monday regarding Girls Prep's proposed relocation.
"No one is saying we'll absolutely be able to function in our building. We're scrounging now," Williams said. "The [renovation's] disruption alone is enough to warrant us to be considered for another space."
Williams said that the School Construction Authority found no evidence of contamination during a recent round of tests. But she said staffers recently smelled oil in the building, and some in the school fear that any construction work on the auditorium could unleash additional toxins into the school.
District 1's Community Education Council has also lent its preliminary support to the Girls Prep's move, saying that the charter school was next in line for the space.
Ian Rowe, CEO of Public Prep, which oversees Girls Prep, did not immediately return a request for comment.