City grabs land for new school on Ridge–Sunset border

A for effort: Lauded proposed school won’t help overcrowding
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

The city is one step closer to adding 976 desks to Brooklyn’s most overcrowded school district.

The School Construction Authority used eminent domain to acquire four lots near Third Avenue and 59th Street, where it plans to build a $4-million elementary school. Some may balk at the idea of forcibly taking land for the public good, but this project is really necessary, according to one neighborhood education advocate.

“For most of New York’s history, eminent domain is kind of a dirty word, but it has potential if it’s used smartly, and it sounds like this can do some good. We have a really bad overcrowding issue in the area, so anything that can be done to alleviate that is welcome,” said Sunset Park resident Julio Pena, the vice-chairman Community Board 7’s education committee.

Brooklyn Supreme Court judge Wayne Saitta ruled on Sept. 29 that the authority can take ownership of the four lots — which are in foreclosure. Courts will determine how much to compensate the landowner at a future hearing, Saitta said.

The forthcoming PS 746 will help ease overcrowding in School District 20, which encompasses Sunset Park, Borough Park, and Bay Ridge.

District classrooms were the city’s most jam-packed last year, according to an Independent Budget Office study, and the nearly 1,000 seats the city is promising are a far cry from the more-than 7,000 district seats needed just to break even.

The city has set aside money to build 4,541 seats in the area by 2024, but it needs to find space to do so, according to information from the School Construction Authority.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2517. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.