BIG NEWS – Tish James and Steve Levin have both gone on the record in support of building a new school in Downtown Brooklyn
As I mentioned in a previous post, I met with Councilman Levin to talk schools and he suggested I attend a city council committee hearing regarding lowering of parking minimums. It was an opportunity to voice our concerns about the lack of an elementary school in Downtown Brooklyn in front of all of the major players involved with the highrise development in the area and the NYC Department of City Planning. Councilwoman Letitia James has used this issue to advocate for more affordable housing to be built in new developments in exchange for reducing the number of parking spaces required.
During the meeting, Council Levin also raised the issue that new community space, like a school, should be considered to fill the extra space that would be gained by not having to build new parking. He made the point that when they initially rezoned Downtown in 2004, they estimated that there would only be 979 units of housing added, but by the time the building boom is complete in 5-10 years, more than 10,000 units of housing will have been built necessitating a new school.
Most of the members of the public who spoke at the hearing represented the business interests of the big developers. I believe that I was the only resident of Downtown to speak and made clear that the building boom is a failure of urban planning and that a school in the neighborhood is essential part of building a new community. By the end of the meeting, both Levin and James where asking all of the developers about what they planned to do about a new school and many of the developers where also including mention of a new school as part of what is necessary for a successful neighborhood. James even vowed to bring up both affordable housing and a new school every time she talks to any of the developers in the future. During the meeting, Levin also grilled the city planning team that was present and made it clear that he wanted to have further discussions with them about the issue of a new school.
What does this all mean? Not exactly sure yet, but this is positive news. As for likely locations for a new school or timelines, that is yet to be determined. There is still a long road ahead to get anything done, but at least the winds of inevitability are blowing in our direction. Elections are coming up in 2013 and now is the time to make our concerns known.
Please sign the petition, letting Levin and James know that they need to make this a top priority.
You can also contact them directly: