Underhill playground becomes battleground

Children at the Underhill playground on Monday, Aug. 20. The Department of Education building can be seen in the background.

Prospect Heights residents are frantically trying to stop a center for suspended high school students from opening in September, right next to a popular playground.
 
The center, once a New York City Department of Education office building, will house two academies for students serving both long- and short-term suspensions.

This site, at 355 Park Place, is one of 38 around the city and will provide instruction and counseling for the students.

As many as 70 students will attend the school. The kids have been suspended for periods ranging from 30 days to up to a year.

Sexual harassment, bullying, bomb threats and drug and weapon possession are all grounds for suspension, according to the New York City School District Discipline Code.

Residents say the high school students would not mix well with the parents, nannies and young children who flock to Underhill Playground on the same corner.
 
“It seems like a recipe for tragedy,” said Jason Orans, a film producer who often takes his two-year-old to the playground. “The community is very, very alarmed.”
 
Because the playground, described by one babysitter in the area as “very diverse,” is the only public space in an otherwise residential area, Orans said the suspended teenagers might all hang out there and get into fights.
 
“They’re going to be miserable when they come out at the end of the day, and maybe they’re going to take it out on this neighborhood,” Orans said.

Marisa Cazanave, a teacher who works at a Prospect Heights school, disagreed. She said the concerns are overblown.

“They’re afraid of what they don’t know, what they think might happen,” Cazanave said of some in the neighborhood.

Marge Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the DOE, said staggered dismissals will prevent the entire student body from exiting simultaneously. Staff members will escort students to subway stops.
 
The center is scheduled to open on the first day of school this year, Thursday, Sept. 6.

Space not adequate, some say

Others said the space is inappropriate for educating students, said Councilwoman Letitia James, who represents the neighborhood. Though students will be provided with lunch, the building will not have a kitchen. There will also be an exercise room and area for a library.

Prospect Heights residents remember a far different neighborhood just 20 years ago. Murder in the area is down almost 90 percent since 1990, rape down 77 percent and robbery down 85, according to NYPD statistics. Today, it is known for its sprawling green space, brownstones and the soon-to-be-completed Barclays Center.


Miles Dixon contributed reporting.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Astoria minivan crash kills 1, injures 6: NYPD

Anthony Boyd, 45, died soon after what investigators believe was some sort of medical emergency as he drove his family through Astoria on Sunday afternoon.

Local

NYC pension funds valued at $160b: Scott Stringer

The five NYC pension funds that thousands of city employees contribute to saw its fifth year in a row of increased returns, up $23 billion from last year.

International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Tech

Amazon offers 3D printing to customize earrings, bobble…

By Deepa SeetharamanSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc will offer 3D printing services that allow customers to customize and build earrings, bobble head toys and…

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…