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
National

Humans should thank ancient Scottish fish fossils for…

By Kate KellandLONDON (Reuters) - Scientists studying fossils have discovered that the intimate act of sexual intercourse used by humans was pioneered by ancient armored…

National

Comet makes rare close pass by Mars as…

By Irene KlotzNEW YORK (Reuters) - A comet from the outer reaches of the solar system on Sunday made a rare, close pass by Mars…

Local

NYPD: Man found hanging in Brooklyn subway station

A man was found hanging inside a Brooklyn subway station on Saturday morning, police said. The man, who still had not been identified on Sunday,…

Local

Only church destroyed in 9/11 set to rebuild

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, the only house of worship destroyed during the terrorist attacks on 9/11, held a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday to start the…

Television

9 things we learned about 'Hannibal' Season 3…

There’s plenty of fall television to be excited about, but the crowd inside the Paley Center for Media on Saturday night only wanted one thing:…

Going Out

Watch home cooks try to impress Tom Colicchio…

Is what you’re making for dinner tonight good enough to serve “Top Chef” judge Tom Colicchio? That’s the standard that some of the city’s best…

Television

‘Homeland’ recap: Season 4, Episode 4 ‘Iron in…

Carrie Mathison, what are you doing?! Don’t seduce virgins! More on that later: Lots of crazy stuff went down on the "Iron in the Fire" ep of "Homeland"!

Movies

Box office: Brad Pitt kills Nazis, also Nicholas…

This weekend, Brad Pitt's second WWII movie, "Fury," rolled into the lead, while the latest Nicholas Sparks movie, "The Best of Me," got little love.

College

College football AP Top 25 rankings: Mississippi State…

College football AP Top 25 rankings: Mississippi State holds off FSU

NHL

NHL Power Rankings: Sharks, Canadiens, Blackhawks out in…

NHL Power Rankings: Sharks, Canadiens, Blackhawks out in front

NFL

DeMarco Murray carries Cowboys to win over Giants

The Giants knew they would need to stop DeMarco Murray if they were going to leave Dallas with a win. It didn't matter.

NFL

Jets trade for wide receiver Percy Harvin: Report

According to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, the Jets have sent a conditional draft pick to the Seahawks for wide receiver Percy Harvin.

Wellbeing

Gabby Bernstein: The 3 questions I always get

For the last decade, I’ve been writing self-help books and preaching the Gospel of Gabby to audiences throughout the world. And no matter what country…

Wellbeing

Health News: 5K for lung cancer, free yoga,…

Get some fresh air to benefit lung cancer research On Friday, the first-ever Brooklyn Free to Breathe Run/Walk will take place Oct. 26 at Cadman Plaza…

Education

Can these two college students come up with…

Two Atlanta college students say they have an idea for a simple test that would quickly diagnosis the Ebola virus - and it all started…

Education

Chances are, the average college student isn't taking…

As a bachelor’s degree becomes more expensive than ever, one new report is criticizing colleges for the content of those pricey educations. The American Council…