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Local Civic Organization Petitions to Convert Court Square Parking Structure into Elementary School

A municipal lot at 45-40 Court Square West is being considered as the location of a new school. (Google Maps)
May 3, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan

The Court Square Civic Association is calling on the School Construction Authority to take over a city-owned parking lot and build an elementary school on it.

The local civic organization started an online petition Thursday to garner support for the plan, which would see a PreK-5 school built at 45-40 Court Square West—the location of the Court Square Municipal Parking Garage that has 702 parking spaces.

The petition to date has more than 50 signatures.

Frank Wu, president of the Court Square Civic Association, says residents have grown frustrated with the SCA’s inability to secure a location in the area, which has seen massive residential growth with no neighborhood schools, spurring the organization to suggest its own plan.

“They have been unable to locate the appropriate building because of the design restrictions on what a school needs to be, there’s the height and the space,” Wu said. “They’ve had a couple private negotiations fall through.”

The civic association held a public panel-discussion meeting with the SCA last month and the agency said that it has been scouting for potential school locations in Court Square since 2017. The agency said it has faced challenges in finding and negotiating for an appropriate site.

Court Square Municipal Parking Garage lot is located behind the Courthouse (Google)

The SCA said in a statement yesterday that it is looking into the recommendation of the civic group and is continuing to look for a site.

State Senator Michael Gianaris says he has also reviewed the civic association’s plan and will discuss it when he meets with SCA Chief Lorraine Grillo in the coming days.

“More school space in Court Square is absolutely critical to keep up with the rapid growth of the neighborhood,” Gianaris said.

The active parking lot is currently operated by the Department of Transportation.The DOT could not be reached for comment.

The funds are available for a school. Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio officially put $60 million in the 2020 budget to fund it.

Wu says that building the school on a city-owned lot would see a school go up faster–since it would avoid protracted negotiations with a property owner. The cost would also be less.

He does recognize that a lot of parking spaces would be lost. However, with several parking garages on the surrounding blocks, Wu says that the need for a school on the municipal property is much greater.

“There’s a plethora of other parking options in the area,” Wu said. “There really aren’t other options for elementary schools.”

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