The New York City School Construction Authority plans to construct a new school campus in the Concourse Village section of the Bronx on a seven-acre site at East 153rd Street and Concourse Village West. The $235 million projects would be the single biggest project in the largest school construction plan in the history of New York City.
The proposed campus would accommodate four schools consisting of one 544-seat charter school, one 573-seat intermediate/high school, and two 549-seat high schools. The eastern portion of the site would be developed with playing fields and open space.
City officials have said that schools are needed before 2009 to alleviate overcrowding. South Bronx Churches, a coalition of neighborhood congregations, nonprofit agencies and tenant and homeowner groups, pushed the administration to build the complex and helped develop the site plan.
The site has hosted a railyard, a laundry, a service station, and a manufactured gas plant, leaving behind mercury, lead and the suspected carcinogen benzene. The SCA has a plan to minimize toxic exposure for the new school’s students as well as the thousands of students who attend schools nearby.
To that end, the city has allocated $30 million for the clean-up. Opponents of the plan and local officials say they are doubtful the School Construction Authority can totally eradicate the problem of soil and groundwater contamination that exceeds state environmental standards. Students and teachers at P.S. 156, a school built on stilts next to the site, have complained about rashes and headaches which they assert are related to the area’s environmental issues.
On January 9th, 2007 the City Council unanimously approved a re-submitted plan after receiving assurances that the administration would consider clean-up recommendations by an independent consultant.
The administration previously pledged $30 million to clean up the 6.6-acre Mott Haven site but agreed last month under pressure from community groups to work out a plan to have the area independently tested for pollution. The opposition remains concerned that approval wasn’t delayed until the independent review was completed.