Rep. Maloney Calls for New Public School at Former Con Edison Waterside Site

Oct 2, 2007
Press Release

New York, NY – In advance of a Community Board 6 hearing this evening on the East River Realty Company’s development plan for the former Con Edison Waterside site, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens) wrote to the New York City Department of Education urging that the massive East Side development’s planned community space be used to house a new public school.

The developer’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which will be discussed at this evening’s hearing, states that the proposed development will bring 417 new public elementary school students to the area.  As a result, enrollment at nearby elementary schools will rise to164% of capacity by 2014.  Intermediate schools would also experience overcrowding as a result of the project.  Maloney believes that the developer’s proposed mitigation measures - namely, sending new students to other schools that are themselves overcrowded or are far away from the area - do not adequately address the problems created by the development.

“East Midtown schools are severely overcrowded now and will become much more so if this development goes forward as planned,” Maloney said. “This giant project might be the best opportunity we will ever have to build a new school in east Midtown.  I urge the East River Realty Company to work with us to make a new school a reality.”

The East River Realty Company (EERC) has agreed to provide a community facility at the former Waterside side as compensation for the project’s impact on the community.  However, the developer’s EIS repeatedly suggests that the proposed community facility will be used for medical purposes, not for a school.  At the last Community Board 6 meeting, the developer’s representatives said that EERC had conversations with the Department of Education about the possibility of a school at the site, but no further details were provided.

Background:
                                                                                                                       
EERC proposes to rezone four parcels along First Avenue in Midtown Manhattan for predominately residential, commercial and mixed-use development. The four parcels, which ERRC purchased from Con Edison in March 2005 and June 2005, are located between First Avenue and the East River between East 35th and East 41st Streets. It is expected that development would be complete by 2014.

Click here for a copy of the full Environmental Impact Statement for the project.

The text of Maloney's letter to the Department of Education follows.

                                                                  
October 1, 2007
Chancellor Joel I. Klein
New York City Department of Education
52 Chambers Street / Room 320
New York, New York 10007                

Dear Chancellor Klein,

           As you may know, East River Realty Company (ERRC) has acquired four parcels along First Avenue between East 35th Street and East 41st Street in Midtown Manhattan (formerly owned by Con Edison) and has a proposal before the  Department of City Planning to rezone and obtain other land use approvals for the property. I note that the current plans include a community facility; however the developer has thus been unwilling to publicly commit to having a school at this site. This will be one of the largest development plans proposed for the East Side in decades and provides a unique opportunity to build a new public school.

           The development project includes large residential buildings and is expected to result in approximately 417 additional public elementary school students. The new students are expected to cause over-crowding at elementary schools in the community to rise to 164% of capacity by 2014. Intermediate schools would also experience overcrowding.

           This community is already experiencing a surge in public school enrollment. At the Community Board 6 public hearing on September 20, 2007, the principal of P.S. 116, Ms. Jane Hsu, advised that enrollment in her school had increased by nearly 13%, rising from 728 students in June 2007 to 820 in September 2007. That is an increase of nearly 100 students from one year to the next. In addition to the Con Edison Waterside site, new buildings are rising throughout the area and enrollment is expected to further soar. Given the seriousness of this problem, it is very important that a public school be included in the proposed development. ERRC stated at the public hearing that they have met with your office to discuss building a school on the development site. This  presents the best opportunity we will ever have to build a new school in this already overcrowded community.

           I would like to schedule a meeting with your office to discuss this matter further. In particular I am interested in learning the status of any discussions with ERRC and what can be done to encourage the development of a school on this site. Please contact Tina Olechowski in my office at your earliest convenience at (212) 860-0606. I look forward to working with you on this vital issue.

                                                                             Sincerely,

 

                                                                            CAROLYN B. MALONEY
                                                                            Member of Congress