Victory: Classrooms to Emerge at 75 Morton St.

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On Mar. 14, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn announced publicly that it had sold the building located at 75 Morton Street to the Department of Education (DOE), and that the building would indeed be converted into a school. In a statement, Ms. Quinn said "This purchase will provide us with needed additional educational space, leaving us with many options, including middle school seats which the community has long advocated for," continuing by saying "I look forward to working with both the DOE and community to determine how to best utilize the space and how to realize our goal."

For many West Village parents, the vote signals a victorious end to the battle for 75 Morton St., which has been ongoing since 2008. At that time, hundreds of citizens stood in line with concerned parents to signify unilateral agreement that the building be used only as a school, rather than as a housing complex, office building, or other venture.

On Aug. 7, 2008, Margie Feinberg said on a telephone interview to Albert Amateau of The Villager "We've told E.S.D.C. that we're interested in acquiring the building for a school, and we're waiting to hear back from them," and those talks did apparently lead to an agreement, although it was nearly four years later; the DOE has agreed to purchase the NYS owned building at 75 Morton St., though it was at a hard-fought price reduction. When it did finally agree, the DOE purchased the building for $40M. -- down from the $78M. the city had originally asked for, according to city officials.

"We don't have any middle schools," said Ann Kjellberg, a West Village parent who supported opening a school in the Morton Street building. "And the more people who saw the building, the more obvious it got that it should be one. It has an auditorium; it has open space; it has elevators."

Although it is now confirmed that 75 Morton St. will be converted into a school, it is unclear if the space will be used as a middle school, as was originally hoped.

However, gaining another school was not the only victory that city residents won with the Mar. 14 City Council vote. Among other topics, the council voted to preserve the Reiss building, hand over permanent control of the Triangle Park to the Parks Department, distribute a $1M. donation by the Rudin family to the Arts programs in Village schools PS41, PS3, and the Foundling School, scheduled to open in 2014. The city will further create a $1M. legal fund, whose aim will be to retain Affordable Housing in the West Village.

Additionally, a planned development in the area will see a reduction in its size (from a proposed 450 units with 159 parking spaces to 350 units with 95 parking spaces).

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