Civic OK with private school plan

An influential civic group needed less than a week to decide that a controversial expansion plan would not harm Park Slope’s historic district.

In a statement released just prior to the Jan. 13 meeting of Community Board 6, the Park Slope Civic Council declared that the Berkeley Carroll School’s desire to reconstruct a one-story annex at the rear of its middle and upper school at 181 Lincoln Place would “impose no adverse impact” on the character of the neighborhood, and recommended its approval by the board.

The board followed suit, approving the matter 21-6 with five abstentions, and the matter next goes before the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, which will meet on Feb. 2. Only Landmarks has official say on whether the project may proceed.

Just after the civic’s Jan. 7 meeting, Ken Freeman, its president, said he was unsure what kind of time frame his group would follow for its recommendation, whatever direction it happens to take. Freeman, a parent of children who attend the private school, said he recused himself from the vote. Minutes before the board meeting, Freeman called District Manager Craig Hammerman to inform him about the civic recommendation.

The civic said that should “the project’s scope or details change, [its] position on the project would be based on the details of the changes.“We encourage the Berkeley Carroll School to continue to actively engage its neighbors during and after the construction of its expanded facilities in order to minimize any potential adverse impacts on adjacent properties,” the resolution reads.

Critics charge that the school has not done enough to address the concerns held by a majority of neighbors, particularly the inclusion of a rooftop playground that some feel will spread noise far and wide. Moreover, those opposed to the plan said the civic’s consideration of the project after Board 6’s Landmarks/Land Use Committee already voted, and approved it, was irregular, and didn’t allow the council a chance to inform the committee’s decision, which is generally the protocol. The board typically follows what its committees recommend. The school said the winter holiday season prompted the rescheduling.

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