Pricilla Henegen, a 19-year resident of the neighborhood, who plans to send her grand niece to the school, could not contain her excitement for the new complex. “I wish they had it when I moved in,” she said.
The project is expected to be completed by 2012 and create over 1,000 new seats for students in a neighborhood characterized by overcrowded schools. The Department of Education will own the school, but New Settlement Apartments (located adjacent to the site and a project of the Settlement Housing Fund) will provide facilities management for both the school and community center. Total development costs for the school, center, and pool are estimated to be $83 million.
New Settlement Apartments' executive director, Jack Doyle, credits the collaboration of several government and private funding sources for the realization of the complex in a community that has been the scene of many rehabilitation efforts on the part of the organization over the past twenty years. Since 1987 the Settlement Housing Fund has been running affordable housing buildings and offering youth and parental development programs to the community.
“The future of many children and generations of children to come rests in large part on our success,” Doyle said. “We have no choice but to be successful.”
Lt. Governor Richard Ravitch and Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott attended the groundbreaking ceremony and both echoed praise for the organization and its vision. Ravitch called the school and community center the perfect combination that he hopes to see repeated. “[The Settlement Housing Fund] always manages to rise at a problem with a solution,” Ravich said. “They have made life better for tens of thousands of citizens.”
Top photo: Deputy Borough President Aurelia Greene (left); Jack Doyle, New Settlement Apartments executive director (second from left); Councilmember Maria Baez (center). Bottom photo: Lt. Governor Richard Ravitch