The wrecking ball aimed at two Upper West Side schools isn’t going to swing.

The potential demolition of PS 199 on 70th street and PS 191 on 61st has been averted. Months after the West Side Rag broke the story that the Department of Education was quietly floating a proposal to big developers that they knock down the schools and build new high-rises with schools in their place, the city has decided not to move ahead with the proposals, state assembly member Linda Rosenthal said. “We won!” she said.

“We are absolutely thrilled that P.S. 191 and P.S. 199 will be saved,” wrote David Saphier, Co-Founder of Lincoln Square Community Coalition and “They are cherished neighborhood institutions and the disruption would have been terrible for kids, the parents and the neighborhoods. However, our joy is tempered by the fact that another amazing school, the High School Cooperative Education has been chosen by the ECF for demolition and redevelopment.”

Instead, the city is planning to demolish the School of Cooperative Technical Education at 321 East 96th Street to rebuild it inside a luxury high-rise, according to Rosenthal.

The decision comes after the “Save Our Schools” coalition, including neighbors and parents of the two schools, held a big rally and meeting on Thursday fighting the plans.

NEWS | 14 comments | permalink
    1. Crawford says:

      This is terrible news. So the community loses, and the NIMBYS win again. No money for new schools, no new housing, and no new tax base.

      We just keep the old crumbling schools, because a few neighbors don’t want to be inconvenienced with construction, and have to wait a few years down the line to figure out the space crunch.

      • Public school parent says:

        This is not a loss is a major win. As a parent at one of those schools I can tell you it is in very good shape and well taken care of. In addition, there was no commitment to build a larger school (how does it get larger than 6 k classes?). We would have overcrowding made worse by the addition children from the the new high rise.

        • 199 Parent says:

          Crawford. You have only to look at the mess they created on the East Side with the last ECF project to know that this is GREAT news. The last project opened with kindergarten and first grade wait-listing and they scrapped the planned pre-K program. All of this, and they have not even built the 59 story tower above it yet!

          They DOE’s proposal for 199 included a 105,000-110,000 sq. ft. school when other 100,000 sq. ft. schools only hold 600-650 kids (e.g. the upcoming Riverside Center School, and the Spruce Street School). The population of 199 would have been nearly 1,000 kids by the time that building opened.

          This was never about gaining new capacity. It was about the developers’ quest for a new untapped market that schools across the city represent.

          Rampant tax-abated luxury development that has strained our public schools without providing the necessary financial support or school space for new school facilities – IT IS A MAJOR SOURCE of our overcrowding problem – not its solution.

          If the DOE was worried about capacity, they would not have planned the Riverside Center School at 2/3 the size that CB7 had demanded. Extell offered to build the shell of the school as large as 150,000 sq. ft. but the School Construction Authority didn’t want to put the extra effort into constructing the inside of a larger shell.

          Now that Beacon will not be tied up as a space to hold displaced 199 and / or 191 students, let’s fight for the Middle School we deserve at Beacon!

          District 3 Parents Unite! Don’t let the DOE tell you there isn’t enough money to make Beacon shine. They have been building 87,300 new capital seats throughout the city – at the tune of 7.86 billion dollars over ten years (see their last 2 Capital plans). District 3 has simply been left behind – we have received less than 1% of these new capital seats (only Riverside Center).

          This isn’t just about someone’s back yard. The ECF fund is merely an arm of the forces that seek to privatize education (such as through charters). Why must we tear down our public schools and privatize our land when the charter schools so easily have the vast majority of their leasing and new construction costs paid for by the DOE (460 million in new charter construction in 10 years)?

          The problem with the charters is isn’t just that they take precious UWS public school spaces from us, like they did on 84th street with the Success Academy – they divert the funds we need to create new capital seats.

          If the impending E3 Middle School Charter can simply lease space and open a middle school in the West 60s (with the DOE’s financial support)- without dismantling a sister school, than so can we!

          This is more than someone’s back yard. This fight is about sending a message to the next wave of city leadership that we resist the privatization forces that threaten the viability of our public schools!

          • James Austin Roe says:

            Commendations to Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal,and Paul Sawyier, her amazingly smart
            staffmember; and to Gale Brewer, Manhattan Cuty Coucil representative; AND to the parents of 199ers, and we as a community (have lived 210 West 70, same apt. above 70th St. Playground, since 1977. I have seen the “Sixth Avenue” over-explosions of Tall, very ruinous overdevelopment, year in, out. Had not the news leaked and the neighborhoods nearly ruined learned how this
            egregiously underhanded sneak plan by the
            Bloomberg building mania almost pushed his chutzpah beyond belief. If you are IN FAVOR,
            just be sure to vote for Bloomie’s Puppet
            the odious Ms. Quinn, Were there even any enviromental/public transit studies made? If
            you hit bad timing at Trader Joe, the line runs around the corner and wet on 72 street, just to gain entry. Want more crowding ALL
            OVER? Then, vote for Ms.”Evita” Quinn.

      • Sara Gootblatt says:

        This is not just a “not in my backyard ” issue. The UFT has come out strongly against this plan, and they are not interested only in one neighborhood. What the neighbor needs are more classrooms, not proportionally less (when you calculate the new school age children living in the 50 story behemoth that was planned.) The upper Westside has been a beehive of development and there have been no new schools or classrooms added to accommodate all of the families who are using public instead of private schools.

      • Funny you should say NIMBY’s. We were just discussing how we can help the High school that is far from being in our back yard, because this is just plain wrong. We are not happy they they were chosen either. It isn’t just about new schools, new housing, and taxes. It is about lack of transparency, displacing children and making education secondary to monetary gain, and giving up public lands. Hey if you want to build me a brand new free standing school without a building on top and complete it during the summer – go ahead! If you want to find free land without a school on it and build affordable housing on it (way less than $2500 a month for rent), then by all means do, but please do keep in style with the old world charm that used to be the UWS and keep it under 10 stories. You want to give a tax break to developers that help support the community by giving them a perk they do not have (i.e. a public garden, open tennis courts to the public, etc) – go ahead. Go ahead and do THOSE things in our back yard. We will worry about the “space crunch” when it actually happens – we are not holding our breath.

      • Snowy says:

        Crawford, what a simplistic way of looking at this. This is hardly a NIMBY issue – this has to do with overcrowding that would only have worsened with this new tower and – at 199 – a new school of exactly the same size as the one we have now, no good place to send the kids during demolition/rebuilding, etc. Educate yourself before talking nonsense.

        This is a huge win for the community and the two excellent schools that were in jeopardy of being pulled apart.

      • Jonathan says:

        Huh? Old crumbling schools, Crawford? Have you ever even taken a look at PS199? It’s a great school where lots of investments have been made. I live right across the street from PS199, but that doesn’t make me a NIMBY – I don’t want this kind of pandering to real-estate developers stuff happening ANYWHERE.

    2. Yvonne Lamy says:

      Alleluia! Our wonderful community will remain intact!

    3. degas sedona says:

      This may be a “victory” for 191 and 199 but it is a maddening loss for the teenagers of all of NYC.
      The School of Cooperative Technical Education (Co-opTech)has been a fixture of the East Side since 1941. Our school has opened its doors to all high school kids who are looking for free top-notch technical and trade instruction. We received word yesterday that we have been chosen for demolition by the greedy and short-sighted Blumberg administration. This is another instance of “Imminent Domain”. Co-opTech is the only effective NYC program that trains our teens to be socially responsible and productive members of society.
      Shame on you, DOE!

    4. Amanda Koos says:

      I don’t understand how people think that if you put up yet another giant high-rise with a school in the basement that will solve your classroom size problem. Don’t all those kids need class room seats? Where is the logic here?

    5. Penelope Bareau says:

      The sale of publicly financed buildings to private developers amounts to theft of public resources. Schools and libraries being sold off for luxury development–of which we have too much–is outrageous and should be stopped.

    6. Rat A.Tooey says:

      DANG! Me and my friends were hoping for a nice period of excavation, chaos, and noise to have fun and find food.

      Now we’ll just hafta wait till they replace the Schul (yes, I am Jewish) with a high-rise.

      Sighhh…more boring old Verdi Square for us!

    7. David Toscano says:

      The P.S. 191 building has been “saved” from a proposal to replace it, under which a private developer would be required to both build a permanent replacement and provide an interim replacement at its own expense. Perhaps that resulted from the Department of Education not consulting with the affected persons. But that wouldn’t justify rejecting the proposal outright without even waiting to see more specifics. To the extent it resulted from concern that construction is disruptive, that never will change, so it’s hard to see the building ever being replaced consistent with that concern. (And that’s certainly not stopping the new water main from being laid down on two sides of P.S. 191.) As a result, the neighborhood, including the P.S. 191 students, is stuck with a decrepit eyesore. And to the extent that it resulted from concern about highrises, that seems quite late, and highly selective, given the recent evolution of the neighborhood. For example, no similar outcry blocked the 48-story tower that will be built right across Amsterdam, or the 54-story tower being completed just north of that. Indeed, it is now the hideous, pre-Sputnik P.S. 191 building that — unlike the timeless 59th Street Recreation Center and its modern extension — no longer “fits” the neighborhood. Under the circumstances, I don’t see scuttling the proposal to replace P.S. 191 as good news.