New York State’s Education Department OK’d the controversial Urban Dove School for the sprawling national park last week, clearing the first hurdle toward its construction — and bringing on the inevitable backlash that now includes Aviator Sports, the Floyd Bennett Field tenant that had been silent on the issue.
“[Urban Dove] has absolutely no support from the community, so we will not be able to support the project,” Aviator CEO Kevin McCabe told this paper Friday, joining a chorus of elected officials panning the plan.
In their prospectus to the state, school planners said they hoped to use Aviator’s popular facilities as part of their sports-centric curriculum.
But with the ‘no’ vote, the owners of Aviator have become the latest critics of the school, which will cater to 95 over-aged, under-credited youth. Local politicians have slammed the plan since its infancy, claiming a park is no place for a school.
“We don’t use our schools as parks and our parks as schools,” said Councilman Lew Fidler (D-Marine Park). “Aviator is not available to them.”
State Sen. Carl Kruger (D-Mill Basin) agreed.
“[Gateway] was not designed for charter schools,” he said. “It was designed as a community and family use facility.”
Despite its detractors, Urban Dove organizers say they believe Floyd Bennett Field is the perfect spot for a sports, health, and fitness-oriented alternative high school because the national park has plenty of open space and a selection of abandoned buildings they can turn into a “one-of-a-kind campus environment” that will include classrooms, a cafeteria, office space and recreational areas.
At its core will be a socialization-heavy curriculum where students aren’t part of classes, but teams that travel together from lesson to lesson and activity to activity.