Friday, December 21, 2012
Developer bribes community with school
From DNA Info:
A proposal to build a $1 billion waterfront development in Hallets Point may include a new K-8 school, according to plans presented last week at a public meeting.
Developer Lincoln Equities Group wants to transform seven acres of the Astoria waterfront, constructing seven residential buildings with more than 2,000 apartment units, retail development and a landscaped public esplanade along the East River.
The latest plans for the site now include the possibility of a new school, according to an environmental planning consultant working on behalf of the developers. The school might be necessary to accommodate the influx of families expected to move into the area once the development opens, planners said.
"Having done some preliminary analysis of what this project means, in terms of new demands on the various services, we are also studying the potential for a new K-8 public school," said Linh Do, of the consulting firm AKRF. "At this point, we are thinking it will be located on the NYCHA campus."
Lincoln Equities is working with NYCHA and the city's School Construction Authority to see if a school would be viable on land that now serves as parking spaces for residents at the Astoria Houses, Do said.
Some NYCHA residents present at last week's meeting say they're thrilled to hear a school is being considered for Hallets Point. The closest public elementary school at the moment is P.S. 117, which is over capacity, enrolling 207 more students last year than designed, according to DOE statistics.
"We want to ensure that the school is a mandate," said Ronnie Minor, who identified himself as a community activist. "The school has to be built."
Andre Stith, a lifelong Astoria Houses resident who works with the local nonprofit Zone 126, said a new school would bring more educational opportunities to the neighborhood's children.
"Right now we have a situation where our children are getting into a lot of things, and it’s as simple as they have no options," he said.
And how does this change the game for electeds?
City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., who has been on the fence about the Hallets Point proposal, said the inclusion of a school in the plan is a step in the right direction.
"That's something that I've been asking for, and I'm glad that they're seriously considering it," he said.
His main concern with the project is that the neighborhood doesn't have the existing resources to accommodate the number of residents the new development would bring.
"Schools for the children there is one of my concerns," Vallone said.
Vallone and other neighborhood stakeholders also worry about transportation, with several calling for a ferry service to Manhattan to be included in the plans.
What about the flooding, stupid?