City makes deal to keep 2 P.S. 234 classrooms open


Volume 22, Number 51 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | April 30 – May 6, 2010

One of the two classrooms Manhattan Youth has tentatively agreed to continue leasing to P.S. 234.

City makes deal to keep 2 P.S. 234 classrooms open

Manhattan Youth has reached a tentative deal with the city to maintain two classrooms for P.S. 234 in the Downtown Community Center for the next three years.

The city has rented the space for P.S. 234 in Manhattan Youth’s center for the past two years. The extra space allows the overcrowded Tribeca school to have separate rooms for art and science, rather than holding those subjects in regular classrooms.

“Asking P.S. 234 to leave our space in September was never on the table,” said Bob Townley, Manhattan Youth’s executive director, in a statement April 23.

The city’s lease on the 2,000 square feet of space is set to expire this year, and until last week it was uncertain whether the city and Townley would agree on a renewal price to allow P.S. 234 to stay in the rooms.

The D.O.E. initially offered to pay $48 per square foot on a renewal, an increase from the $45 per square foot they are now paying. However, Townley asked for $150 per square foot, saying that was how much he needed to rent and build out similar space for his center nearby, to make up for the space he was giving to P.S. 234. He said a few months ago he wouldn’t be able to take less than $150.

The impasse appeared insoluble, but Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said last Thursday that after speaking to both parties, Manhattan Youth recently submitted a revised offer to the Dept. of Education.

“I’m hopeful they can have a formal agreement before too long,” Silver said at a meeting of his school overcrowding taskforce.

Townley issued a statement the next morning saying that he and the city had come to a preliminary understanding.

“Since the agreement is not final I will not comment on the nature of the agreement except to say it will be in place for three years,” Townley said in the statement. “The DOE did the best it could and we thank them for that.

“The agreement will probably not generate enough resources to find comparable space close to the community center,” Townley continued. “However, Manhattan Youth felt a strong obligation to the school and hopes there can be other ways to meet our needs.”

Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld, spokesperson for the Dept. of Education, said in a statement, “We understand that space within P.S. 234 is tight, and are very pleased to have reached a tentative agreement on this temporary space.”

— Julie Shapiro