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Two New Middle Schools Could Be on the Way to West Village Building

By Andrea Swalec | January 21, 2013 7:13am

GREENWICH VILLAGE — Two new middle schools and a special needs program could be on the way to the West Village, the New York City School Construction Authority announced.

Officials are considering constructing a 900-student facility in the seven-story building at 75 Morton St., which is currently used by the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, said SCA President Lorraine Grillo.

"The real need is going to be middle school seats, over time," Grillo said at a planning meeting Thursday night, adding that the SCA is eyeing two middle schools and a special needs school for the space.

With input from locals, officials will have to make a final decision on the plan for the building by June, so that the SCA can design it and bid it out to contractors, Grillo said.

School representatives and members of Community Board 2 and the Community Education Council for District 2 said they were looking at several options for new schools within the 177,000-square-foot building. They hope to reduce pressure on area schools and keep children near their homes in the West Village, Greenwich Village, the Meatpacking District and Chelsea instead of sending them to schools all over the city.

"Our hope is that neighborhood children will have the chance to grow up together," said Nick Gottlieb, co-chairman of the P.S. 3 PTA.

CB2 and CEC members said in a joint presentation that the possibilities they have been considering include an elementary school and middle school with 600 to 700 seats, one large middle school with 700 to 900 seats, and a school that could house a 100-student capacity pre-kindergarten and kindergarten plus an 800-student middle and high school.

The two groups said they would like to see the new middle school open in the fall of 2015, so current third-graders in the community could attend.

Ownership of 75 Morton St. still has to be transferred from the state to the city, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick said Thursday.

The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities was scheduled to vacate the building in April, but their new Lower Manhattan location was damaged during Hurricane Sandy, delaying their move-out date, Glick said.

"Where we are now is a little bit stalled," she said, telling the group she was "cautiously optimistic" about the timeline for the new school.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who also spoke at the meeting, led the charge for the city and the DOE to purchase the school. She announced the plans for the purchase last March.

The opportunity to have such leeway in planning a school is rare, said newly instated State Sen. Brad Hoylman, who championed the creation of the school as CB 2 chairman.

"For the first time," he said, "we're building something from the ground up."