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City Unveils Alternate UWS School Zoning Plan Amid Yearlong Debate

By Emily Frost | September 15, 2016 12:31pm
 One of the scenarios involves moving P.S. 452 into a new building and two would keep it in its current West 77th Street building. 
DOE Proposes Three Zoning Scenarios for Upper West Side
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UPPER WEST SIDE — A new plan to move school zone lines on the Upper West Side that would mean a local elementary school would not need to relocate has been revealed by the city.

It's the latest in a series of proposals that have been contentiously debated for nearly a year.

After the Department of Education revoked a rezoning plan it presented last fall which would have redrawn the lines determining which school neighborhood children attend, officials came back to education leaders with two new zoning scenarios this spring.

On Wednesday night, education officials presented a third scenario that would include elements of the other two but stipulates that P.S. 452 on West 77th Street would not have to move to a larger building on West 61st Street. 

In one of the original scenarios presented by the DOE in June, the city proposed moving P.S. 452 to the building currently occupied by P.S. 191 at 210 W. 61st St. As a result, P.S. 191 would need to move into the new Riverside Center school building, allowing P.S. 452 more room to expand, officials said. 

P.S. 452 parents pushed back against the plan, arguing it would break apart the community they've built in the seven years since the school opened.

The newest scenario emerged in response to those parents, said Sarah Turchin, the DOE's director of planning for Manhattan. 

However, the DOE has not yet created a map for the new plan showing specific zoning lines, she said.

The plan will still aim to tackle overcrowding, a lack of diversity at some schools and under-enrollment at others, Turchin said. 

Other elements of the new scenario will remain the same as before, including P.S. 191 moving into the new Riverside Center school and zoning lines changing in the northern part of the Upper West Side.

The school zones for P.S. 84, P.S. 75, P.S. 163, P.S. 145 and P.S.165 would grow, while the zones for P.S. 87, P.S. 9, P.S. 199 and P.S. 166 would shrink to help alleviate overcrowding, Turchin said. 

The lack of clarity in the latest scenario irked some residents of Lincoln Towers who would be affected, dozens of whom attended Wednesday's meeting.

Under the two plans presented earlier this year, two buildings within the apartment complex off West End Avenue between West 67th and 69th streets would be removed from the coveted P.S. 199 zone.

Residents of those buildings — 165 and 185 West End avenues — would be moved instead into the P.S. 191 zone.

That change is "grossly unfair and unreasonable," said one Lincoln Towers resident at Wednesday night's meeting, while dozens of others stood up to express their dismay at any plan to rezone the two buildings despite the fact that the latest details have yet to be determined.  

Many argued that by including new luxury developments like 200 Amsterdam Ave. in the new P.S. 199 zone, the DOE was favoring them over Lincoln Towers residents, who've supported P.S. 199 for decades. 

Lincoln Towers residents have created an online petition protesting the possible zoning change and said they had been gathering paper signatures every day.  

Community Education Council 3, the body of parents elected to represent the district, is hosting two upcoming information sessions on the rezoning scenarios. They will be held on Saturday, Sept. 17, at 1 p.m. at P.S. 191, 210 W. 61st St., and on Monday, Sept. 19, at 6 p.m. at P.S. 87, 160 W. 78th St. 

The DOE will present a final zoning scenario and map in October, and CEC 3 will vote on it in November, Turchin added.