Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Community Board 10, citing traffic issues and overcrowding in the area, as well as concerns that a new high school proposed by the School Construction Authority for Bay Ridge would not primarily serve local students, has voted overwhelmingly to turn down a high school proposed for Ovington Avenue, on a block that already has several schools.
The city wants to construct the school on two lots currently owned by the shuttered St. Nicholas Home, at 441-447 and 425-439 Ovington Avenue, with approximately 676 seats, with room for special education students included in that total, according to the proposal released by the SCA.
A prior public hearing on the issue had drawn nearby neighbors who had voiced concerns about the use of the site for a high school. The board’s vote, taken during its May meeting at the Fort Hamilton Senior Center, 9941 Fort Hamilton Parkway, is advisory only. In total, 34 board members voted against the school siting and six voted in favor, with one abstention and one recusal.
The site is “situated on a densely populated, narrow, one-way residential street,” stressed the motion read out by Stephanie Simone-Mahaney, chair of the board’s Youth Services, Education & Libraries Committee, which drafted it along with the board’s Zoning & Land Use Committee. The motion emphasized that adding a school at the site would “impact emergency vehicles and exacerbate traffic and overcrowding.”
Area high schools are over or near capacity. Within Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton High School is at 155% of capacity and the High School of Telecommunications Arts and Technology is at 96% of capacity. Nearby New Utrecht High School is at 143% of capacity and Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School is at 118% of capacity.
Among the issues is the proximity of other existing school buildings – two used by P.S./I.S. 30 (the main building at Fourth and Ovington Avenues and its annex on Ovington between Fourth and Fifth Avenues), as well as Lutheran Elementary School across the street. If the new high school were built at the site, approximately 5,600 students would be “converging in a small area of Bay Ridge,” said Simone-Mahaney.
Among the concerns was the fact that there would be only a single access point, because the school would front on only one street, as well as the fear that it would not actually significantly reduce overcrowding at other area high schools.
“The new school is not going to alleviate anything at Fort Hamilton High School,” contended board member Barbara Vellucci, a former administrator at the school.
However, board member Dan Hetteix had a different perspective. The neighborhood, he noted, hasn’t gotten a new high school in some 80 years, “because it’s so hard to find anything at all. How long will it be,” he asked, “before we get another shot at this?”
The St. Nicholas Home, which was located in the old Bay Ridge Hospital building, closed in September, 2022, according to New York State Department of Health records.