Objections made by a city agency have delayed the airing of a Park Slope private school’s controversial plan to a commission that could ultimately decide its fate.
The Department of Buildings said the Berkeley Carroll School must revise its plan to reconstruct a one-story annex at the rear of its middle and upper school at 181 Lincoln Place before it can come before the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.
But the issues the agency raised hardly seem fatal to the plan, which has sparked the ire of neighbors who say it is an affront to the historic district, particularly the inclusion of a rooftop playground that some feel will bring a daily disquiet to this well-heeled neighborhood.
Buildings spokesperson Carly Sullivan said the school needs to show compliance with the city’s street tree requirements, essentially a zoning requirement for a project of this sort. The school also needs to address issues of fire safety, and take care of a series of administrative items, she said. Because the project sits in the Park Slope historic district, Landmarks must give its blessing if the new building is to rise.
Berkeley Carroll spokesperson Jodie Corngold said the objections are “routine, standard operating procedure” by Buildings. “We all know Buildings has heightened awareness and revamped procedures, and every project has objections,” she said.“Everything will be approved and there’s no problem.” Corngold stressed that the school has no plans to cut down any trees, and will be working with an arborist.
Opponents of the project are not celebrating the brief hiatus, but hope it might be a chance for an improved dialogue with the school, said St. John’s Place resident Dan Enriquez. “I think neighbors will probably try to take this as a chance to sit down with Berkeley Carroll officials to see if can have some of their concerns addressed,” he said.
Despite the school’s stated attempts at outreach, Enriquez said many residents are still just learning of the project.
“It is becoming clear that the school found the path of least resistance in dealing with as few neighbors as possible, but what has come to light now is that there are 100 or so neighbors that have come out of the woodwork to say that the school never approached them,” he continued. “And they are all pretty upset at finding out the school was disingenuous about representing its support from the community.”
Despite the outcry from residents, the plan recently won approval from both the Park Slope Civic Council and Community Board 6. The president of the civic, and chair of the community board both have children attending the school; both men recused themselves from the votes taken by their respective groups.