Bay Ridge

City eyes opening Bay Ridge pre-K site next to expressway

January 11, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The proposed pre-kindergarten site is located next to the 86th Street exit of the Gowanus Expressway. Eagle photo by Paula Katinas
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Roaring trucks and 4-year-olds aren’t a good combination, according to a Bay Ridge educational leader who is raising objections to a proposal by the city’s School Construction Authority (SCA) to open a pre-K center next to a Gowanus Expressway exit.

Laurie Windsor, president of the Community Education Council (CEC) of School District 20, said she sees problems ahead if the SCA moves forward with a proposal to house a pre-K site in a building at 621 86 St.

The two-story building, which formerly housed the offices of Community Board 10, is located smack next to the 86th Street exit of the Gowanus Expressway. Board 10 moved out of the space and into new offices at 8119 Fifth Ave. in 2009.

The CEC as a group has not taken a formal position on the pre-K proposal.

But Windsor, who has been a parent leader in the city’s school system for more than a decade, did not mince words when asked by the Brooklyn Eagle for her opinion. “Personally, I hate that location! How can we even consider this with that block as the exit ramp from the expressway?” she told the Eagle via email.

The CEC will hold a public hearing on the pre-K proposal on Wednesday, Jan. 20, at P.S./I.S. 104, at 9115 Fifth Ave., from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Windsor said the CEC will likely take a vote on the merits of the proposal after the Jan. 20 public hearing.

The building is located on the corner of 86th Street and Gatling Place, next to the Gowanus Expressway’s 86th Street exit. The exit is a particularly busy one at all times of the day, according to Bay Ridge community leaders, who noted that it is the next-to-last exit before drivers get on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to go to Staten Island. The last Brooklyn exit on the Gowanus is located at 92nd Street.

Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann said the exit is especially busy when there is a traffic tie-up on the bridge. Drivers get off the expressway, she said. “When something happens on the bridge, it’s a mess,” she told the Eagle.

But nixing the city’s plans could prove tricky for the CEC, since the parent-panel has spent the past several years asking the city to find sites in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and elsewhere to house pre-K classes and ease overcrowding in the burgeoning school district.

The CEC is constantly pushing the SCA and the New York City Department of Education to build new schools, not just pre-K sites, in the district, Windsor said. “We’ve had new schools open in the past few years, but it’s not enough,” she told the Eagle in 2015.

Under the city’s plan, the building at 621 86th St. would become a pre-K center with 108 seats.

Board 10 will also weigh in on the proposal. Two board committees, Zoning and Land Use and Youth Services, and Education and Libraries, will hold a joint public hearing on Jan. 20, the same night as the CEC hearing. The Board 10 hearing will take place at the Knights of Columbus Hall, at 1305 86th St., starting at 7 p.m.

“We are hearing from people who have concerns over traffic and safety,” Beckmann said. “That’s why we hold public hearings. We encourage anyone who has a concern to come to our hearing.”

For more information, call Board 10 at 718-745-6827 or the CEC at 718-759-3921.


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