Berkeley Carroll plan heard by Landmarks

A Park Slope private school finally got its day before the city agency with authority over the fate of its controversial expansion plan.

Opponents of the Berkeley Carroll School’s proposal outnumbered supporters at a Feb. 16 hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which has oversight over the matter because the school site in question sits in the Park Slope Historic District.

The private school is planning to reconstruct a one-story annex at the rear of its middle and upper school at 181 Lincoln Place. It says its new building, plus a rooftop playground, will provide more space for students and faculty, and would not alter the aesthetics of the historic district. The new building is approximately the same size as the one it will replace.

But opponents say the playground will drastically diminish their quality of life, and that school has failed to win the support of the vast number of residents — despite public assurances that it had.

Lincoln Place resident Sylvia Lowenthal said she attended the hearing, and came away unimpressed by the school’s reassurances. Lowenthal, who lives about half a block from the school, said she hears students as it is now. “With the expansion of the play area, it will undoubtedly get worse,” she predicted.

Lowenthal lauded Councilmember Steve Levin, who offered a compromise plan, an aspect of which would have the school build its new building lower into the ground, so as to mitigate some of the negative effects of the proposal.

Levin spokesperson Hope Reichbach said her boss continues to work with both sides. “It’s a well respected school, and if it needs expansion to house their students, it’s definitely not a bad thing,” she said. But, she continued, expansion can “unfortunately impede” on the residents’ quality of life.

Landmarks spokesperson Elizabeth de Bourbon said a date for the next hearing has yet to be set. A decision might be reached at the next meeting, or some time after, she said. A hearing earlier this month was rescheduled because the city’s Department of Buildings raised a series of concerns with the school’s plans.

–Gary Buiso

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