School comes to its Seneshes

Community Newspaper Group
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

A Carroll Gardens private school announced late on Friday that it had abandoned its controversial plan to build an annex on its courtyard — ending a bitter debate over whether building on such yards would destroy the very character of the neighborhood.

The Hannah Senesh Community Day School said it would not erect a two-story building on land at the corner of Smith Street and First Place, and has decided instead to “pursue other space opportunit­ies” in the neighborhood.

Neighbors were overjoyed.

“This would have absolutely taken away the uniqueness of our street and the value of our property — and we’ve put everything in these properties,” said Barbara Brookhart.

At issue was the school’s attempt to amend a city code so that it could build on its courtyard, which it currently uses as a parking lot. Once the plan was made public, neighbors recoiled, arguing that the portion of the city code in question, which dates back to the mid-1800s, essentially considers the front gardens on First through Fourth places as public streets that can not be built upon. Changing it would allow a precedent that, opponents said, could lead to an erosion in the very essence of the neighborhood — the front gardens that give Carroll Gardens its name.

“We were most afraid that once law changed for [Hannah Senesh] other people would get the same idea and it would be changed again, and the signature courtyards would vanish, corner by corner,” said Triada Samaras, a member of the group Carroll Gardens Coalition for Respectful Development.

The controversy, which began in December, put a bitter punctuation mark on the term of Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D-Park Slope), who was preparing to introduce a bill that would amend the administrative code to allow the expansion. The resulting local outcry derailed that maneuver. Opponents argued that such a significant change in a land use should go through the city’s public review process.

Pam Kaplan, the president of the Hannah Senesh board of directors, said that the school abandoned the plan because it is “sensitive to the concerns of our neighbors.”

“We know that we will need additional space in the future … and will seek out such opportunities when available,” she added. “We are, as a school, looking forward to being part of the Carroll Gardens community for many years to come.”

She declined to say whether the school had found an off-site location for its expansion.

The 152-student Jewish day school, which has been at its current location for just three years, said it sought the expansion not to add enrollment, but to expand programs.

Now “the school is going to have to adapt to what is best for the kids,” said Ken Fisher, the former Councilman hired by the school as its lobbyist. “How it plays out, we don’t know.”

Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reader Feedback

loiuse Crawford from park slope says:
Great headline!
March 13, 2010, 3:20 pm
al pankin from downttown says:
how did this group get to takeover a building that was formerly a nyc building for the community school board offices? that is the real question.
March 15, 2010, 11:28 am
al pankin from downttown says:
how did this group get to take over a building that was formerly a nyc school building for the community school board. that is the real question.
March 15, 2010, 11:31 am

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.