GREENWICH VILLAGE — Parents afraid of losing a proposed public school site on Bleecker Street are turning up the heat on the land's owner — New York University.
NYU offered the 130 Bleecker St. site to the community as part of its massive $6 billion expansion in Greenwich Village, but the university will reclaim the site at the end of December unless the city commits to build a new school.
On Wednesday night, Community Board 2's schools committee called on NYU to extend the year-end deadline to 2025, to give the Department of Education more time to decide whether the neighborhood needs a new school. That was originally the deadline, but City Councilwoman Margaret Chin changed it to 2014 before the City Council greenlighted the expansion in 2012.
NYU had previously said the university would not consider extending the deadline back to 2025, citing a lawsuit that had put the entire development on hold.
This week, though, a state appeals court ruled in favor of NYU in the lawsuit, clearing the way for the development to move forward — and prompting residents to renew their demand that NYU extend the deadline for the school.
“This is a dance — we’re all doing this dance," Heather Campbell, co-chair of CB2's schools committee, said of the negotiations. "We’ve been told, ‘Oh, I can’t dance with you right now because there’s litigation.' Guess what? Today, there’s not. There might be again, but today there’s not. So can we get in a dance with them? Right now.”
An NYU spokesman did not respond to an email about extending the deadline. CB2 schools committee co-chair Jeannine Kiely said NYU declined an invitation to the Wednesday night meeting, still citing the appeal.
The prospective site, currently a Morton Williams grocery store, is available to the city free of charge as long as the DOE's School Construction Authority puts the new public school in its five-year capital plan and files an official statement of interest in the site by Dec. 31.
The SCA has not yet taken either step and has given no indication that they plan to. A DOE spokesman previously told DNAinfo New York that they would like NYU to extend the deadline to give them more time to decide whether to use the school. NYU would also need to extend the deadline to commence construction on the school, which is currently set for July 1, 2018.
Representatives from the offices of Chin, State Senator Daniel Squadron, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, and City Councilman Corey Johnson all said they would support CB2's resolution asking NYU to extend the deadline. CB2 will vote on it at its full board meeting next Thursday.
Also at Wednesday's meeting, CB2's schools committee presented a demographics study, funded by Chin, showing the need for the Bleecker Street school, in the hopes that it will persuade the SCA to add funding for the school to their five-year capital plan. Amending the capital plan would require approval by the City Council.