By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Neighborhood residents are renewing the push to have the Police Academy building on East 20th Street converted into a school. Community Board 6 passed a resolution in 2008 from the Youth and Education Committee proposing the change and board members are again urging the city to revisit the issue because the academy will be leaving the space soon.
The 2008 resolution noted that the building, located at 235 East 20th Street, would be ideal for a school because it already contains classroom space, an auditorium and a gymnasium and there is a need in the neighborhood for more public school seats.
The board’s Land Use and Waterfront committee discussed the possible conversion in a meeting last Wednesday evening, bringing the issue up again because the police academy is expected to move to Queens by the end of next year, vacating the space on East 20th Street.
Residents at the meeting said they wanted to discuss the possibility of a public school not only because the city needs the seats for students but also to prevent the land from being sold to private developers for luxury high-rises.
“(The NYPD) needs to transfer the property to the Department of Education,” CB6 Vice Chair Ellen Imbimbo said. “So many properties have been sold out from under us with little or no notice with no opportunity to recast the transaction.”
A neighborhood resident suggested that a Department of Education official tour the facility to assess the feasibility of such a project and most at the meeting agreed that action needed to be taken because the DOE has not yet commented on whether or not the building could become a public school.
The committee will be drafting a letter to send to the DOE but the issue will not be reviewed by Community Board 6 again until the next full board meeting in January.
“It would make a wonderful high school or intermediate school,” resident Jim Collins said of the facility. “Yes, it’s beat up, but the cost of cleaning this space up is relatively de minimis compared to building a new school.”