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Two Local Schools Safe From Demolition After DOE Shifts Gears: Officials

By Emily Frost | June 17, 2013 11:54am
 Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal said the DOE assured her the schools were no longer part of its redevelopment plan. 
P.S. 191 and P.S. 199 Safe from Redevelopment
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UPPER WEST SIDE — Two local schools that had been targeted for demolition have gotten a reprieve from the Department of Education, according to a DOE spokeswoman.

P.S. 199 and P.S. 191, which were in danger of being torn down as part of a redevelopment plan that would have replaced them with new high-rises, received the good news last week from Ben Goodman, the DOE's Manhattan borough director, Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal said.

The department will shift gears and instead plan to redevelop the School of Cooperative Technical Education at 321 E. 96th St., which serves 11th and 12th-graders, said Marge Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the DOE. 

"We are in the process now of meeting with the community and we will be sending out the solicitation this summer," said Feinberg of the next steps, adding, "we have chosen to look at 321 East 96th Street."

For months, ever since a parent first discovered the revenue-generating plan listed by the DOE in Crain's in an ad soliciting interest from developers, the school communities and neighbors worried about the preponderance of high-rises and the effects of the plan on students.

West Siders have both joined opposition campaigns and taken a more cautious approach by urging the DOE to share more information. 

Some parents, like P.S. 199 dad Joe Fiordaliso, were open to at least looking at the proposal.

"P.S.199 is ground zero for PCB contamination and school overcrowding, so any proposal that would address those issues at least deserves to be looked at," Fiordaliso said.

"Even though we did not see a formal proposal from the DOE, I'm relieved that the P.S. 199 community will be spared the stress and anxiety that would accompany a redevelopment," he added. 

Opposition groups, concerned parents and public officials have held forums and rallies dating back to the fall, with the most recent meeting last week in Lincoln Square, near the two schools.

Rosenthal said the community's effort to stop the redevelopment was successful "because we were ready and organized and ready to defeat the plan."