Today’s news:

From church to school - Deal could bring new classrooms to ‘Green’ site

The city is working on a deal to construct a school on the Green Church site.

“The SCA (School Construction Authority) and owner are now in negotiations,” City Councilmember Vincent Gentile said at last week’s meeting of District 20’s Community Education Council (CEC).

After the city Department of Buildings (DOB) twice rejected site owner Abe Betesh’s plans to build multistory condos where the Bay Ridge Methodist United Church once stood at 7002 Fourth Avenue, Gentile suggested that Betesh meet with the SCA to discuss building a school.

“The SCA has said that the site is appropriate and useable for a P.S./I.S., 600-700 seat school,” Gentile said.

The news is victory for community residents who had opposed the creation of another towering condominium in Bay Ridge, which many say is plagued by overdevelopment.

“I’m pleased to say it will be used for the community and will relieve some of the overcrowding” at nearby schools, Gentile said.

In particular, P.S. 102 on 72nd Street, P.S. 170 on Sixth Avenue and I.S. 30 on Ovington Avenue, which are all packed to the brim.

There is a tight schedule on this new school construction project.

Since funding would be allocated as part of the city Department of Education’s (DOE) current five-year capital plan, the project must be underway before the plan expires next year.

To ensure that the money is not lost, the city hopes to complete the public review process, which would include a presentation to District 20’s CEC, in early 2009.

“We’re going to rush this as quickly as possible,” Gentile said.

Fred Maley, the SCA’s director of external affairs, said the department jumped on the Green Church site because officials have long struggled to find suitable locations in cramped Bay Ridge.

The property “brings 5,000 seats that have been sited in the capital plan for District 20,” Maley said.

With the clock ticking on the current capital plan, the SCA is completing several new school construction projects in District 20, which spans Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton, Borough Park and part of Bensonhurst.

Now underway is an extension for I.S. 259 William Mckinley Educational Center  on Fort Hamilton Parkway.

“The foundation is in and the steel will be going up next week,” Maley said.

The SCA is also building a long-awaited annex for P.S. 163 on Benson Avenue.

The SCA is currently searching for a site in District 20 to create a 200-seat school.

If a site is not found before the capital plan expires, the corresponding funding could be rolled over for other projects outlined in the next plan.

CEC20Capital

B/K/BR/G 12-18-08

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