If Senesh plan advances, CGNA says no to free space

It might be back to the drawing board — and the funeral home — for a local civic group at odds with a school that donates its space for the group’s monthly meetings.

The Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association says it will not continue to use the gymnasium in the Hannah Senesh Community Day School if the private school moves ahead with a controversial plan to expand into its adjoining courtyard.

“The bottom line is that we can’t stay there if they don’t respect the gardens,” said Maria Pagano, president of the neighborhood association.

Pagano’s group has been vehemently opposed to the school’s plan, which at one time sought to amend a city code so that it could proceed with aproject that would see the construction of a two-story building on its courtyard, which is currently used as a parking lot. Local preservationists balked, arguing that courtyards, or gardens, are the signature part of the neighborhood’s aesthetic, and to allow major construction on one, could threaten them all.

“There is no compromise,” said Pagano, adding that she wondered if perhaps the school just doesn’t understand how serious the issue is for the civic group.

Amy Glosser, vice president of the school’s board of directors, said she spoke to Pagano on Tuesday, and the conversation was “perfectly amicable.” Glosser said the two-year-old school routinely opens its doors to community groups, and has no intention of booting Pagano’s group. “If she chooses to meet somewhere else, that’s her choice,” she said.

If submitted to the city, the school’s proposed land use changes would be subject to an extensive public review, called the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. After the public hew and cry, the amendment to the city code was withdrawn.Glosser said the school is currently in “a holding pattern” and continues to research its proposal.

Pagano said her group is prepared to search for a new location, but said it would probably not be returning to the site where many a past meeting was convened — the Scotto Funeral Home on First Place. “As quaint and curious as that setting was, we’re not going back,” she said.