Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Two City Charter Schools Eye Closing Off St. Andrew's Park for Sports Teams by Jake Pearson - NY Daily News

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I guess it's good to be King Mike's daughter...you get to take over public parks...

A private foundation that helps fund two Bedford-Stuyvesant charter schools wants to renovate and close off a city park for sports team practices, the Daily News has learned.
Mayor Bloomberg's daughter Emma Bloomberg, a planning officer at the Robin Hood Foundation, pitched the idea to local and city officials at an August meeting.
St. Andrew's Park would be closed and used exclusively for parts of the school day by high school athletic teams from the Uncommon Schools and Achievement First, which share a building on Atlantic Ave., said Community Board 3 chair Henry Butler.
In exchange for the exclusive use of the park, Robin Hood would fund a renovation of the rundown, dangerous park, which has been the scene of two crimes in recent months.
"If they can renovate it and make it safer, I'm all for it as long as it's the community's park first not the school's park first that the community can use," said Butler, who attended the meeting.
Parks Department spokeswoman Meghan Lalor called Robin Hood's presentation "conceptual."
"While the original proposal was to renovate the athletic field, as a result of discussion at this meeting, the project was expanded to include other areas of the park as well," Lalor said.
In August, a female Parks Department employee was raped in an early morning attack in St. Andrew's. In June, a man was killed at the park after a drive-by shooter sprayed bullets into a crowd watching a basketball game.
Neighborhood mom Tyra McKinney was all for the park being closed for schoolkids' use.
"My son would be in a safe place," said McKinney, 39. "I would love that."
But Crown Heights lab worker Wendell Johnson, who plays basketball in St. Andrew's with his 13-year-old son every week, didn't like the idea of a city park being closed off to the public - even for part of the day.
"The park is supposed to be open to everybody," he said.
The park currently has three blacktop basketball courts, a play area and concrete bleacher seats.
Robin Hood officials did not return calls for comment.
New York City Park Advocates President Geoffrey Croft said the idea of a private group renovating a public park in exchange for exclusive use sets "a very dangerous precedent."
"The security issue has to be addressed but [private use] doesn't solve the problem that's happening at St. Andrew's," Croft said,