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An elite private school in Park Slope got initial approval from a community board panel to proceed with a controversial new building and a rooftop play area that many neighbors said is too noisy and also out of character with the school’s existing landmarked space.
By an 11–4 vote on Monday night, the Landmarks and Land-Use Committee of Community Board 6 approved the one-story building at the Berkeley Carroll School, which is on Lincoln Place between Seventh and Eighth avenues.
The vote came after several contentious meetings between the school and locals last year. School officials and some opponents kept talking, eventually settling on a compromise on the new building, which will include a 4,000-square-foot rooftop recreation area for middle school students.
Community board member Betty Lester told the crowd of more than 100 people that the compromise worked for her.
“The school seems to have been compliant [with landmarks code],” said Lester, who backed the proposal. “Let’s agree to disagree. The compromise is there.”
But for some, the Berkeley Carroll proposal remains so heated that even the opposition group had a splinter contingent that did not want to negotiate with the school at all.
Indeed, the St. Johns Block Association was riven by the proposal.
“We’ve lived with the noise from the school coming over the wall and permeating our lives,” said John Muir, who spoke on behalf of the portion of the St. Johns Block Association that still opposes the project. “It is indisputable that the noise of the new rooftop will spread to Seventh Avenue and affect those who live on Lincoln Place.”
School officials were confident that they had adjusted their proposal to better accommodate the wishes of the locals (at least the ones who would talk to them).
As a result, no air conditioning units will be installed on the roof of the new building, no trees will be destroyed during construction, and the recreation area will be set back 15 feet from the roof’s edge to avoid new shadows and better deal with noise concerns.
“We are here with the best we’ve come up with after talking to our neighbors,” said Lydia Denworth, one of the Berkeley Carroll School’s trustees. “The fact that the composition of our neighbors has changed is unfortunate.”
But even aspects of the compromise proposal led to new problems. The co-op board of 209 Lincoln Pl., which is next to the school, had insisted on a solid eight-foot barrier around the recreation area, but later relented when shocked residents of the building realized that their apartment would now look directly at a wall.
The Berkeley Carroll School’s proposal will face another vote at the Community Board 6 full board meeting [250 Baltic St. between Court and Clinton streets in Cobble Hill, (718) 643-3027] on Jan. 13 at 6:30 pm.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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