Berkeley Carroll School gets expansion OK

Community Newspaper Group

The city has approved a Park Slope private school’s expansion plan, a controversial scheme that vexes some residents who fear that the new building will undermine the neighborhood’s historic character.

On Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted 8-0 in favor of the Berkeley Carroll School’s one-story annex and rooftop playground at the rear of its campus on Lincoln Place between Seventh and Eighth avenues.

The addition is four feet taller — and occupies a larger footprint — than an existing portion of the school that will be razed.

The project was approved because it “does not involve the removal of historic fabric, and the addition is not visible from a public thoroughfare,” said Landmarks spokeswoman Lisi de Bourbon.

She added that the agency is not charged with assessing “quality of life concerns,” but merely the impact of a project on a community’s historic texture.

The school has argued that the new building addresses a pressing need for space, but opponents remain convinced that the playground will add an insufferable wall of sound to their daily lives.

Some residents of St. Johns Place, whose backyards abut the Berkeley Carroll School, vow to fight on.

“The community will not stand by and allow … a project so antagonistic to the neighbors,” said John Muir.

Dan Enriquez, a member of the St. Johns Place Block Association, added that the city approval will allow the “valued historic fabric within our landmark district to be lost forever.”

But Lydia Denworth, the vice president of the school’s board of directors, said that the opponents have taken “a hard line position” that is “overstating” the impact of the addition.

“This is our property and we have a right to build on it,” she said. “Given what we need to do for the school, I think we are building a project that will be as low impact as possible.”

Denworth said a 15-month construction could begin this summer.

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