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Parents at P.S. 191, P.S. 199 Express Opposing Views on DOE Redevelopment

By Emily Frost | May 14, 2013 2:10pm | Updated on May 14, 2013 2:26pm
  Some of the parents oppose the city's proposal while others are waiting for more information.
Parents Speak Out About P.S. 191 and P.S. 199 Redevelopment
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UPPER WEST SIDE — Parents from two local schools clashed Monday over the Department of Education's plan to sell the space above P.S. 191 and P.S. 199 to a developer who would then rebuild them at the base of new luxury developments.

The PTAs on both sides differed over the schools' future: those in the 191 camp, which has collected signatures on an online petition, oppose the proposal; parents in the 199 are taking a wait-and-see approach.

Both sides came together in a meeting, held at P.S. 191's auditorium and hosted by the Community Education Council's Noah Gotbaum and Theresa Hammonds, which became heated at points.

Parents heckled Angeline Huang, a parent at P.S. 199, after she expressed support for the plans.

 Some of the students who gathered to protest the DOE's plan on Friday morning. 
Some of the students who gathered to protest the DOE's plan on Friday morning. 
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DNAinfo/ Emily Frost

"I'm sorry. I'm not against the [Educational Construction Fund]," she said. "We have an overwhelming need for seats."

The DOE in November issued a Request for Expressions of Interest, a lengthy document laying out the development potential of the school sites for developers. Still, parents at 199 wanted more information before making up their minds.

"The Request for Expressions of Interest is a highly flawed document but it is only an informational document," said PTA President Eric Shuffler wrote in an email. "It is not the final document and not something we are comfortable basing any opinions on."

Meanwhile, parents at 191 fiercely oppose the project. Shuffler said anti-demolition advocates have been barraging P.S. 199 parents outside the school yard every day.

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, who organized a rally Friday outside P.S. 191, characterized the plan as "a giveaway in the waning days of the administration."

Other elected officials, including City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, also oppose the proposal. She has said the area is already overdeveloped.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who attended Friday's rally with his toddler son, has offered general support but no formal opinion.

Stringer's office shared a letter from Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm at Monday's meeting that, for the first time, committed in writing to sending any potential developments through the city's review process, ULURP.

"Presently we are reviewing responses to the RFEIs and assessing the feasibility of any of the projects," Grimm wrote in the letter.

It went on to say that the department will meet with the community "to brief them on the project(s)," and then "solicit proposals."

CEC member Laurie Frey said that at previous meetings the DOE verbally committed to letting the community know about the status of the projects in May or June.

And Community Board 7 has said it believes ULURP will be too far along in the process for the community to have meaningful input on the shape of the projects.

"The way to have the maximum impact is to have the input before the RFP is issued," said CB7 Chair Mark Diller.