Purchase agreement for 75 Morton St. is signed; Will be new public school

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | On Fri., July 26, City Council Speaker Christine QuinnAssemblymember Deborah Glick, state Senator Brad Hoylman, Borough President Scott Stringer and Congressmember Jerrold Nadler and advocates announced a major victory for neighborhood schoolchildren and parents. The officials announced that a purchase agreement has been signed for the purchase of 75 Morton St. in the West Village for use of school space.  The city’s Department of Education will also begin “site selection,” which is the public review process that the city must complete in order to site a new city facility.

The city’s School Construction Authority and New York State reached the agreement over the future of the seven-story commercially zoned building on Morton St., which is now on track to become a new school, delivering much needed additional educational capacity.  In terms of the specific type of school use, community discussions have focused on the building being a middle school, with a 900-student total capacity.

The announcement comes more than four years after residents and elected officials spearheaded a campaign for a new school in the West Village.  The campaign was a result of growing concerns regarding overcrowding and space limitations in many of Lower Manhattan’s schools.

The city has come to terms on the $40 million purchase for the Morton St. property, which is currently occupied by the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.  The building has roughly 177,000 square feet of space, including an auditorium, and has access to elevators.

“Each and every child in New York City should be poised to receive an invigorating and rewarding educational experience as they grow,” said Quinn.  “I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg, Department of Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott, [S.C.A.] President Lorraine Grillo, as well as Governor Cuomo and his staff, for coming to an agreement. Additionally, I want to thank my colleagues, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, state Senator Brad Hoylman, Congressmember Jerrold Nadler and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who have been tireless advocates for this. I am proud to have worked with them as well as community leaders in bringing this longstanding community goal to fruition.  With the purchase agreement signed and site selection moving forward, we are taking much-needed steps to reducing overcrowding and bringing much-needed educational capacity to the Village.  I am thrilled that an agreement has been reached to ensure that all children will be placed in the best possible learning environment to achieve success.”

“I am thrilled that we are one step closer to having a school at 75 Morton St.,” said Glick. “This contract is a sure sign of the finalization of the state sale, and city purchase, of the building. When I first identified this excess state building as a potential school, I never thought it would take so long. Speaker Quinn and Senator Hoylman have been wonderful allies, fighting to ensure that our community gets the long-awaited public school at this location. This is a perfect example of a community effort that includes, parents and advocates, and the good results we can get when we are all united for the same great cause. “

“The purchase agreement and commencement of site selection brings us another step closer to a new school at 75 Morton St., which is desperately needed to relieve classroom overcrowding on the West Side,” said Hoylman. “This is an example of what grassroots activism can accomplish. I’m proud of parents, C.B. 2 and Community Education Council 2, in conjunction with my government colleagues, for their work to make this school a reality.”

“The city’s official commitment to purchase the property at 75 Morton St. is an exciting milestone in the years-long effort to establish a neighborhood public school in this space,” said Stringer. “I applaud the hard work and cooperation of the engaged neighbors, local elected officials and Community Board 2 members who have collaborated in this effort thus far, and I look forward to continuing to work with all involved to see this project through.”

“The completion of a purchase agreement for the 75 Morton St. site is long-awaited step toward meeting the serious need for school seats in the West Village,” said Nadler. “This important progress toward a new school is the product of years of collaboration and hard work by area residents, elected officials and Community Board 2.  I look forward to continuing to work together to make this school a reality.”

“This has been a model of community, elected officials and government agencies working together to create the framework for a new middle school in Greenwich Village, said C.B. 2 Chairperson David Gruber. From the amazing and tireless C.B. 2/C.E.C. 75 Morton Task Force and the 75 Morton Envisioning Group, to the unwavering commitment of our elected officials at both the state and city level, to the active participation of the  School Construction Authority — we have seen proof positive that progress can be made when there is common will and determination. We have now a foundation and the opportunity to use all of these efforts and great ideas to move forward in the planning process for our new school.”

“I have vivid memories of the past five years, said 75 Morton Task Force Chairperson Keen Berger. “It began with parents spotting sites for desperately needed ‘rooms to learn.’ Then Assemblymember Glick spied a ‘for sale’ list — the state had put 75 Morton up for sale. Then years of rallies, many community groups, hundreds of parents, all our local leaders standing united. We all chanted ‘Just imagine’ louder and louder as the years rolled by. Our old vision is not just shimmering, it is real, with a new vision — hundreds of public school children streaming into 75 Morton.”

“This is such wonderful news, but we know that there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Shino Tanikawa, president of Community Education Council District 2. “We want to ensure that 75 Morton becomes all that parents, administrators and community members have envisioned — and, especially, that it happens in the timeliest manner possible.  I look forward to our continued partnership with C.B. 2 and the elected officials in making this happen.”