Here’s an update on efforts to bring a new school to Essex Crossing, the large development project coming to the former Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. While a parcel has been set aside for a 15,000 square foot school on Clinton Street, the Department of Education has declined to provide funding. In recent months, local elected officials have been trading letters with DOE officials on the subject.
In December, Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm wrote that the DOE and the School Construction Authority “were supportive of the plan” to set aside the parcel for the school, adding, “we recognize that the existing capacity of schools in the area may not be able to accommodate the demand generated by the new housing planned at (Essex Crossing).” But Grimm said the call to leave the proposed Lower East Side school out of the 2015-2019 Capital Plan was a “decision of timing and priorities.” Grimm said that based on Essex Crossing construction timetables, there would not be a need for new seats until the 2020-2024 Capital Plan period.
On January 28, the local officials – including State Sen. Daniel Squadron, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, City Council members Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer – responded.
In the letter, they noted that the DOE is finally acknowledging the need for a school (a fairly recent about-face). But at the same time, they wrote, “the DOE’s understanding of (Essex Crossing’s) construction timetable seems to be inaccurate,” given that more than half of the development’s 1000 apartments are scheduled for completion in 2018. Based on this “mistaken understanding,” the officials asked the DOE to revisit its decision.