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Name New West Village School After Jane Jacobs, Preservationists Urge City

 Jacobs at a 1961 press conference at Lions Head Restaurant in Greenwich Village.
Jacobs at a 1961 press conference at Lions Head Restaurant in Greenwich Village.
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Library of Congress/Phil Stanziola

GREENWICH VILLAGE — Preservationists will make their case at a public meeting Wednesday evening for naming the new middle school coming to the West Village next year the Jane Jacobs School, after the late community activist best known for blocking Robert Moses from allowing cars to drive through Washington Square Park.

The school, M.S. 297, has long been known just by its address, 75 Morton St., and will spend its first year — starting in September 2017 — in the Clinton School for Writers and Artists, while construction continues on their West Village building.

READ MORE: Here's What You Need To Know About the New Middle School at 75 Morton St.

Organized by the Community Board 2 Schools and Education Committee, the Wednesday evening meeting is "an opportunity to lay out the case to the public," Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, told DNAinfo New York.

"There’s obviously a lot of support in this community for a new school being named after Jane Jacobs," Berman said. "It seems like a very natural fit. She’s obviously an incredibly important figure in this community."

Berman said the process by which the school came about — after 10 years of "community-driven effort, really a grassroots campaign," as well as the fact that community advocates made a point of "identifying an existing building" and opting to "reuse it, put new life into it" — is also a big part of why the naming makes sense.

"All of that feels really consistent with the spirit of Jane Jacobs," Berman said.

Other efforts to name things in the area for Jacobs have either been hard-fought, as in the case of the push to name the street on which she lived after her, or unsuccessful, as in the effort to name the park across from the apartment after her, Berman said.

"The Parks Department refused," Berman said. "There's a surprising lack of things in the neighborhood that are named for Jane Jacobs. I think a school certainly makes sense."

Jeannine Kiely, chair of the CB 2 schools committee, said the hearing is the first in what would likely be a long process to get the city Department of Education to approve the school's name — if there is significant enough public support at the Wednesday meeting.

"I personally think it's a wonderful choice, but I defer to the community, which is why we're holding a hearing," Kiely said. "[Being named after] Jane Jacobs would provide rich curriculum opportunities for teachers and students."

75 Morton's principal, Jacqui Getz, will be in attendance at the meeting as well, Kiely said.

The meeting — scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday evening at the Little Red Schoolhouse at 272 Sixth Ave. — will also include a presentation on funding for after-school programming at the school, Kiely added.