From ‘Green Church’ ruins, a school will rise

City rezoned itself to allow ‘Green Church’ school
The Brooklyn Paper / Ben Muessig

The plan to build a school on the site of Bay Ridge’s now demolished “Green Church” earned an A+ from an influential neighborhood group last week.

Community Board 10’s zoning and education committees nearly unanimously approved the city’s plan to build a 680-seat kindergarten through fifth grade school at the former site of the Bay Ridge United Methodist Church — an emerald-hued, Landmark-worthy house of worship that was torn down in October by its congregation to make room for a smaller, easier to maintain church funded by the sale of the land at the corner of Fourth and Ovington avenues.

When the $9.75-million deal closes between the congregation and developer Abe Betesh, the city is aiming to acquire the land from the builder — who initially planned to construct 72 condominiums on the site, but in December posted a billboard advertising the property as a potential location for a school.

The city sees the land — which was at the center of a lengthy struggle between the congregation and neighborhood preservationists who sought to “save” the green-toned building — as much-needed space in the borough’s most overcrowded school district.

“This is a fairly large site in an area where we need seats desperately,” said Tami Rachelson of the School Construction Authority, whose agency is currently eyeballing a site on Fourth Avenue between 88th and 89th streets for another school, and is considering building an annex for PS 69 on 62nd Street between Fort Hamilton Parkway and Ninth Avenue.

The board’s lone “no” vote came from Bob Cassara, who argued that instead of building a new school, the city should lease space from the Catholic school Our Lady of Angels, which is scheduled to close next year. Department of Education officials countered that rehabbing parochial schools is typically costly as they do often do not meet the city’s codes.