About 150 residents from the St. Nicholas Houses in Harlem have filed a lawsuit against the city and federal government over the building of a Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) charter school in their complex. The saga of the controversial construction of the charter school continues as residents say park space in the complex is being taken from them unlawfully.

The lawsuit over the 1.7-acre park was filed last Thursday, but a judge denied a temporary restraining order to halt construction on the school while the suit is in court. Sadia Rahman of the Urban Justice Center, who, along with the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project, is representing the residents. She said that her clients still maintain that they were not included in any decision-making.

“It’s not just three or four people-it’s really a community who is opposed to the project,” she said. “We are bringing the case against all of the involved parties to stop the school based on legal theories.”

Those legal theories include the parkland not being allowed to be alienated from the public without approval by the state legislature; the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) labeling the space as “underutilized”; and a cul-de-sac being opened in the middle of the housing complex.

“Talking to the residents, this space was anything but underutilized,” Rahman said. “People use it for athletic games, barbeques and family picnics. Even in the wintertime, kids use the space to build snowmen.”

And controversy is still swirling over the opening of 129th Street, which runs through the St. Nicholas Houses. The street was opened by the Department of Transportation through a uniform land use review procedure (ULURP). Residents say that opening the street poses a hazard and will increase smog and traffic in the complex.

HCZ, NYCHA and the city claim that residents were made aware about what was going and that several meetings were held to bring the construction to the attention of the residents. However, those living in the complex maintain that they have been left in the dark.

“It appears to me that the community as whole is very upset about this happening,” Rahman said. “They didn’t know anything about it. The application was misleading. They say they have done community outreach and they haven’t.”

Reports indicate that, in response to the lawsuit, HCZ President and CEO Geoffrey Canada has said that education is more valuable than park space. He added that the lawsuit will not derail construction on the new school.

The new charter school will be a Promise Academy School and serve 1,300 students from kindergarten through the 12th grade. Admission to the five-story school will be by lottery with priority given to students whose siblings already attend a Promise Academy.

Costing $100 million, 60 percent of the school’s cost is being covered by the city while the remaining 40 percent is being raised by HCZ through fundraising. Reports indicate that Goldman Sachs and Google have already committed to paying for the new school.