Thursday, December 03, 2009

Councilman 'Dollar Bill' De Blasio's Underhanded Move To Amend A 150-Year Old Law Angers Many In Carroll Gardens

scan0001Carroll Gardeners are fuming.

Just weeks before leaving the City Council to become NYC Advocate, Councilman Bill De Blasio gave the neighborhood the finger by announcing that on December 9th, he will introduce a change in the Administrative Code that would amend the 150-year old law protecting Carroll Gardens' unique court yards.
The change would chip away at the law by exempting the corner of Smith Street and First Place, where Hannah Senesh, a private school, wants to use the court yard to build onto their existing building. 

Hannah Senesh just moved to the location 2 years ago, but is claiming that it has already outgrown its current space.
The school has hired former Council Member and Attorney Ken Fisher to represent them. (Fisher, you may remember, represented the developers of the Dock Street/Brooklyn Bridge/school development project.)

The Carroll Gardens Community has fought for years to protect the neighborhood's wide front gardens. Just in 2008, the Wide Street Text Amendment was passed by the City Council, establishing once and for all that building and parking on the courtyards was forbidden.

Bill De Blasio's underhanded move would undermine all the efforts of the community which has worked so hard to protect the neighborhood. It is also completely contrary to the recently passed Text Amendment and re-zoning of the neighborhood.

Below is a statement on the issue from Maria Pagano, President of the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association: 

Hi All, 
Yesterday afternoon Tom Gray and the Hannah Senesh Board invited community members to a presentation of their plans to expand the school into the side yard (aka, front garden) at the Hannah Senesh Community Day School. The plan will extend the existing first and second floors of the building to the lot line at the fence along First Place and Smith Streets. Ken Fisher, legal counsel for Hannah Senesh, explained that the school has made all the necessary applications to move forward with their plan, which will add approximately 8 classrooms to the existing building. The project will add a solid two story extension for the length of the building and width of the front garden. It will be faced to match the main building.
Mr. Fisher stated that this plan and the necessary changes required in the new zoning will not apply to any other site in Carroll Gardens. It was announced that City Councilman Bill DeBlasio will present this project to the City Council next week for the first phase of the necessary approvals. 

We at the CGNA are concerned that this extension will not only challenge but eliminate the sight lines and streetscape standards established by the new zoning and the text amendment so recently passed. FYI- more to follow. 
Best, Maria


Anonymous said...

I would have more sympathy for the school if it were a public school instead of a private school that charges close to $25,000 per year in tuition.
This speaks to a much larger issue and that is the lack of space in the good schools. The District 15 middle schools, even the less "desirable" ones, are at full capacity. Bill De Blasio should focus on this important issue instead of this sweetheart deal.

Anonymous said...

This school doesn't serve the CG community. Looking at the mess created by double parking in the morning and afternoon, most of the kids going the this school are not from the neighborhood.
Using the courtyard to extend the building will result bigger FAR for future higher construction above the school.
More parking and traffic mess, more double parking, more pollution.
Thanks Bill! Thanks Hannah Senesh School Community!

Matthew said...

It's simple: no public giveaways to private entities. The commonweal -- the commonwealth -- is not for sale.