Small Band of Community Activists Celebrate 20 Years of Political Obstruction

Local neighborhood bears the brunt of two decades of neglect

At 6pm tonight, a small but dedicated band of so-called community activists will gather at old PS 64 to “commemorate” (lament) the 20-year anniversary of the sale of the school building to Gregg Singer. (See attached) As a result of their fierce opposition to even legal uses for the property that Mr. Singer bought, the building has remained vacant and is now subject to litigation in state and federal courts.

As a result of this retrograde nostalgia, the local community in and around 9th and 10th Streets and Avenues B and C, have been forced to deal with the health and safety dangers from a building that, had it been developed into a college dorm as Mr. Singer has proposed, would have injected life and financial resources into the neighborhood and the local economy. PS 64 will remain a neighborhood eyesore unless Mayor de Blasio – playing against type – becomes actively involved in resolving the 20-year controversy.

The community activists and elected officials who will gather tonight believe that the school should be remanded somehow from the developer and turned back to the “community” for unspecified uses. How this is to be done, and who and what will be involved with the community use has never been clearly specified by the activists that support removing the current developer from the building that he purchased. “The overwhelming majority of the community is in favor of the beautiful state of the art, college dormitory which will be the gold standard. New York is in need of more college dorm space in order to attract students from all over the world. A handful of activists are acting as a barrier and they are responsible for this empty building for twenty years” said attorney David Schwartz.

It is precisely this stalemate that demands political leadership. Whatever side of this political divide you find yourself on, there should be a general agreement that keeping the building vacant doesn’t do any good for anyone in the neighborhood. It is time for action, and it is time for every interest in the community to come together to demand that Mayor de Blasio intervene and negotiate a way forward.

If the Mayor believes, as he said during his re-election campaign, that he’d like to see the building returned to the community, he needs to step up and offer a realistic plan going forward. What this means is that the City of New York must commission an independent appraisal and subsequent evaluation of the cost of both acquisition and redevelopment of the property.

In addition, the City needs to put forward a realistic redevelopment plan that details the future use of the building and who would be involved in that use. If, however, the costs are unrealistic and the future use unspecified, the political leadership must allow the current developer to move forward with a redevelopment plan that conforms with the existing zoning for the site.

The time for foot dragging, political obstruction, and delay must be over. The larger community must demand that the Mayor finally do something beyond virtue signaling that he wants to give a privately-owned building back to a community group that no longer exists.

It is time for action!

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