Thursday, March 22, 2012

City Agrees To Buy Private School Yard For Travers Park Extension For $ 6 Mil.

The city has agreed to purchase a private 29,000 sq.ft school yard (above) for $ 6 million dollars to expand Travers Park, located at the corner of 34th Ave. and 78th St. in Jackson Heights. The Garden School was set to sell the property to a developer for condos. Nearly half a million dollars was raised privately to buy the property. The school had over $2 million in debt last year. (Photo: Kirsten Luce for The New York Times)


The city has reached a long-awaited deal to purchase the yard of a cash-strapped private school to expand a popular Jackson Heights park, accoring to the New York Daily News.

The Garden School sold its more than 26,000-square-foot yard to the city for roughly $6 million, sources close to the deal told the Daily News on Wednesday.

The property will be used to expand Travers Park.

“It’s a deal that’s a win-win for everyone involved,” said City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), who has been pushing for the acquisition. “Jackson Heights has needed this open space for years and finally this dream has come true.”

The yard is to be connected to Travers Park by turning 78th St., between 34th Ave. and Northern Blvd., into a permanent pedestrian plaza, Dromm said.

The road, which runs between the two properties, is already closed to traffic in the summer.

Will Sweeney, a community leader who had been involved in the deal, said he was happy the land wasn’t sold to a developer — which is what the Garden School had originally planned to do.

“It’s a great moment for the community, because the alternative was terrible,” he said of previous proposals to erect high-rises on the site. The park land “will be enjoyed for generations of Jackson Heights families and residents.”

The deal stipulates that the Garden School, a nursery-through-12th-grade institution, will retain exclusive use of the yard until 4 p.m. on school days, Dromm said.

The yard will be open to the public in the evenings, weekends and when the school is closed.

The 89-year-old school, which is suffering from financial troubles, is also to receive a private loan to tide it over until it receives a check from the city.

The deal must still be approved by the city Controller’s office.

Garden School Board of Trustees members Michael Rakosi and Arthur Gruen declined to comment.

But some parents had threatened to pull their students out of the school if a deal with the city wasn’t reached.

And locals had pledged to loan the school almost $500,000 if the school sold the land to the city.

Dudley Stewart, president of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance, said this will help alleviate overcrowding at Travers Park.

“This will give us so much more space that we desperately need,” said Stewart, whose children often wait up to 20 minutes to use the play equipment at the park. “The playground is bursting at the seams.”

Read More:

City reaches deal to expand Travers Park in Jackson Heights
Garden School agrees to sell its yard for roughly $6 million
New York Daily News - March 21, 2012 - By Clare Trapasso

New York Times - March 22, 2012 - By Sarah Maslin Nir

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