Call it a gift from the Adams administration.
Borough President Adams has stepped in to fund a portion of much-needed repairs to the historic Erasmus Hall Academy building. Preservationists and alumni have long battled to save the landmarked structure from demolition — they sent a 2,000-signature petition to Mayor DeBlasio demanding action last year, and more recently name-dropped the popular “Hamilton” Broadway musical because two of its main stars, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, were early benefactors of the school — so the cash is finally a step in the right direction, said one alumna.
“Fabulous, that’s good,” said Karen Ansis, Erasmus class of 1966, who works for the New York Landmarks Conservancy, a preservationist group campaigning to save the city-owned building, which sits in the middle of the school’s Flatbush campus. “Kudos to the Borough President, we really appreciate it and will try to make the best of it.”
Brooklyn’s commander-in-chief has earmarked $665,000 of his 2018 capital budget funds for the restoration of the Erasmus Hall Academy building, said his spokesman, Stefan Ringel. Erected in 1787, the structure housed the state’s oldest secondary school, which was named for Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus. The city landmarked the structure in 1966, but in the past 15 years the Department of Education officials have neglected it and allowed it to deteriorate, said alumna Robin Sherman-Epstein.
And after Hizzoner failed to jump in to save the iconic building, the alumni group’s latest ploy was trying to lobby the city council to allocate cash for the abandoned structure — but the legislators’ newly– passed budget did not include any funding for that purpose, according a spokeswoman for Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D–Bronx).
Some alumni are disheartened the pols let them down, but are confident Adams’s funding will get repairs started and ward off further destruction until more dollars are allocated, said Ansis.
“We are disappointed of course. It’s structurally stable; it’s not in imminent danger of coming down, we have some time, we will work to get some more money,” she said. “If we don’t start now on protecting it then at some point it will become serious, now is the time to plan. “[The Borough Hall money is] a good first step; it would have been nice if the council stepped up.”
The building needs extensive work — and preservationists estimate restoring the entire exterior of the building is about a $2 million job — but the Beep’s generosity is a big help, said a Department of Education spokeswoman.
“We are grateful to Borough President Adams for his support which will begin to fund the first steps of the exterior restoration work,” said Toya Holness.