Locally-elected politicians, Borough President Marty Markowitz and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly were among those on hand at the Brooklyn Amity School’s grand opening in the former Golden Gate Inn – and all swooned over the community-boosting transformation.
The site at 3867 Shore Parkway was once a fixture of local lore, rumored to be a pay-per-hour motel that saw more johns than journeyers. But administrators of the Brooklyn Amity School took over the property early this year, and have spent the past several months making it a second home for students.
The building has been gutted, the pool ripped out, and in their place dozens of classrooms, a cafeteria, offices and a quiet courtyard have cropped up. Still in the works for the property is a gymnasium and sports facilities, auditorium, and, eventually, a high school. Since moving to the new school from their smaller Coney Island Avenue location, the student body has increased from just over 200 to 250; full capacity of the current facility is between 460 and 490, which they expect to hit in two or three years.
That kind of turnaround had local leaders cheering on the private school for helping alleviate a neighborhood blight during their ribbon-cutting ceremony on November 3.
“One of our speakers mentioned ‘morals and ethics’ [in describing Brooklyn Amity School]. You would never have said morals and ethics with the building behind me for a lot of years. You could say a lot about what this building was, but ethics and morals were not the two top words I’d use,” said Borough President Marty Markowitz. “So all I can tell you is that, Amity School, you’ve done a great service for Brooklyn and for the community by really making this building one that brings families together and teaches them all the good things that they should know in their life to be successful in whatever pursuits that they have.”
Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Assistant Principal Monica Bajraktarevic led Sheepshead Bites on a tour of the facility, pointing out the colorful hallways and classrooms – many well lit with floor-to-ceiling windows – the cafeteria featuring food cooked on-premises, and tech-equipped workshops like the one used by their award-winning robotics team.
Bajraktarevic also noted how they were managing with community concerns, particularly traffic fears and perception that the school is a religious or Turkish-only institute.
Though founded by Turkish businessmen, the school is non-sectarian and diverse, she said. Currently, the demographics are approximately 36 percent Turkish, down from 60 percent years ago.
Like the community, administrators are also concerned about traffic safety for their students. With the school sitting at the intersection of Knapp Street and Shore Parkway, it’s nestled between a Belt Parkway exit ramp and entrance ramp, making speeding cars a concern. But Bajraktarevic said the school has hired independent traffic engineers to study the area, and they’re also working with Councilman Lew Fidler and Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein to implement a school safety zone.