New School OK’d Parking, Traffic Remain A Concern By John C. McLoughlin
New School OK’d
Parking, Traffic Remain A Concern
By John C. McLoughlin
Officials from Community Board 14 and School Board 27 voted in favor of the construction of a new school for Far Rockaway earlier this week, setting the stage for the proposal to head to the New York City Council for final approval.
The Wave reported in the December 2, 2000 edition that Community School District 27 and the School Construction Authority had proposed a new 704-seat elementary school, P.S. 253, at 1295 Central avenue, former site of the Far Rockaway Jewish Center. The proposal calls for a 67,000 square foot building, a 2,400 square foot early childhood playground, and a 13,000 square foot play yard. The estimated construction cost, including demolition, is $24 million. This cost does not include the purchase of the property.
A representative from the Division of School Facilities informed the attendees of Tuesday night’s Community Board 14 meeting that "primary schools are functioning above capacity" in Far Rockaway. If this Central avenue school is not built, the representative explained that by 2004 there would be a shortfall of 1,118 seats for elementary school students in Rockaway.
As of present, most schools in Far Rockaway are overutilized. P.S. 104 at 2601 Mott avenue has a 743-seat capacity with 839 students enrolled; PS 197 at 825 Hicksville road has a 835-seat capacity with 975 students enrolled; and PS 215 at 535 Briar place has a 701-seat capacity with 837 students enrolled.
Matt Bromme, superintendent of District 27, said that without the construction of new schools "we see a crisis situation on the east end by 2002, 2003." Bromme informed Community Board 14 that additional state aid and federal monies hinges on classroom space.
‘We want to reduce class sizes and improve instruction," Bromme said, "...and create an environment that makes student’s competitive."
Bromme spoke of needing additional space for computer and science labs, as well as modernizing school libraries that would be available for use after school hours and on Saturdays.
School Board 27 President Steve Greenberg reiterated Bromme’s call for additional schools, saying, "Children deserve schools they can go to," and School Board 27 Member Ernest Brown said that with the new housing being built "we have an opportunity to make a small difference."
Although support for the proposed school was overwhelming, there was a concern with the change in parking and traffic conditions as a result of this new structure.
John Neal, who is responsible for the impact study in relation to this project, said that 47 to 69 parking spaces are expected to be utilized by teachers and staff of the school. With no parking being offered onsite, these additional cars would reduce the present spaces for residents and businesses.
A representative from Arverne Church of God, which is located across from the proposed school site, informed Community Board 14 that the church presently uses that property for parking. The church, which operates a 250-student day school, is concerned that there will be an adverse impact on parking and traffic because of the new public school.
Neal claims that preliminary information suggests that the neighborhood "can handle additional increases in traffic flow and parking."
On another note, the School Construction Authority did admit that noise from the yard and school could be a problem, so they will offer double-glazed windows and other noise-reduction devices to residents whose homes will be adjacent to the new school. Jon Gaska, district manager of Community Board 14, suggested that trees and shrubbery also be considered as barriers to reduce noise levels from the schoolyard and other parts of the building.
Community Board 14 unanimously approved a motion to accept the proposal for construction of the school on the Central avenue site with parking and traffic to be addressed.
The public still has until January 4, 2000 to send the School Construction Authority written comment on this project. Comments can be sent to: Attention Ross J. Holden, VP General Counsel, School Construction Authority, 30-30 Thomson avenue, LIC, NY 11101.
Once approved by the City Council, which is considered a formality in this type of project, bidding can start as soon as September 2001 with anticipated completion and occupancy by September 2003.