NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The city has plans to construct a $55 million school. Some people in the community, however, are opposed to those plans.
So, parents of Lincoln Annex students, community leaders and activists are planning to meet outside City Hall on Wednesday at 6 p.m. to announce the formation of a coalition.
The group, to be called Coalition to Defend Lincoln Annex, is seeking to halt a plan that would have students at the school on Somerset Street be sent to the school district's facility on Van Dyke Avenue.
Lincoln Annex School would be razed and a $750 million, state-of-the-art Cancer Pavilion would be built on the parcel. A replacement school would be built on Jersey Avenue.
Opponents of the project want the replacement school to be built before the children are moved from Lincoln Annex, according to a press release announcing tonight's meeting.
The press release contained testimonials from parents of Lincoln Annex children and community leaders who oppose the plan.
Esmeralda Hernandez, a mother of two Lincoln Annex students, said: “I don’t agree with selling the school without first having a decent place for the children, where they can feel safe. Children are not things.”
The announcement of the coalition's formation will come just before the City Council meeting, in which the plans will be formally put into action. On the agenda is item R-022056, which seeks Council resolution to "refer a development plan for Block 243, Lots 27.1 and 27.02 and for Block 51, Lot 2.01 to the Planning Board for review and report."
Lot 21.01 (131 Jersey Ave.) and Lot 21.02 (121 Jersey Ave.) were identified as potential sites for the replacement school at Tuesday's meeting between Mayor Jim Cahill, DEVCO President Chris Paladino and Dr. Steven Libutti, the senior vice president of oncology services at RWJ/Barnabas Health and the director of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.
Cahill said it might take close to three years before the new school is ready for students to move in.
The school board bought the shuttered St. Peter's school, spent millions to refurbish it and opened it a few years ago under the name Lincoln Annex School. It currently is home to about 750 students in grades 3-7.
Cahill on Tuesday recalled his own personal connections to St. Peter's. He recalled having to move his desk from one part of the school to the other when he switched grades - the school is housed in two buildings joined by a walkway. Later, he said he was one of the first custodians in the school's high school area.
The mayor emphasized the site of the Lincoln Annex School is crucial to the plan because of its proximity to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Cancer Institute of New Jersey.
“It is the only site that works, the Lincoln Annex site," he said. " That doesn’t mitigate the need to put it there, but we’re not unmindful that moving people from an existing school to another site is critically important and impactful to a number of people.”
It's not clear if the groups' representatives will also attend and/or speak at the Council meeting. However, Tuesday's press release listed the groups that will be joining the coalition:
- Anakbayan Rutgers
- Central Jersey DSA
- Lazos America Unidas
- New Labor
- Movimiento Cosecha New Jersey
- New Brunswick 5th and 6th Ward Neighborhood Association
- Newark Food and Water Watch
- Proyecto Esperanza
- Rutgers Pakistani Student Association
- Rutgers University Student Assembly
- Rutgers AAUP-AFT
- Rutgers Business Governing Council
- Rutgers Engineering Governing Council
- Rutgers SEBS Governing Council
- Rutgers Mason Gross Student Government Association
- Rutgers Douglass Governing Council
- Rutgers Residence Hall Association
- RU Progressive
- Rutgers NAACP
- Rutgers New Brunswick Nursing Council
- Rutgers Muslim Public Relations Council
- Rutgers Asian Student Council
- Rutgers Committee on Minority Student Affairs
- Rutgers Latino Student Council
- Rutgers Students for Justice in Palestine
- Rutgers United Black Council
- Unidos Por Escuelas Dignas