The site of the Icahn North Charter School is causing community concern over its height and potential parking problems.
A two-school facility that will be housing roughly 875 students in both a regulation New York City Department of Education school and Icahn North Charter School is under construction at 900 Van Nest Avenue. The project, estimated to open in 2010, hopes to alleviate some of the overcrowding from surrounding schools in the district, including P.S. 83, 105, and 108.
Members of the Morris Park Community Association were appalled to learn the height of the building, which they believe to be around 70 feet, and parking problems caused by eliminating parking during school hours. The new school will barley eliminate overcrowding, while bussing in more children from outside the district to the charter school they claim.
“A charter school draws from the entire Bronx, bussing in more children and bringing in more people from outside our community,” said Al D’Angelo, president of the MPCA. “It just makes no sense because they are not alleviating the overcrowding.”
The project, a collaboration between Civic Builders, the Department of Education and School Construction Authority, received a zoning wavier from the Deputy Mayors Office to allow the large structure to override the strict M1-1 zoning district.
“All public schools have the ability to apply for a variance to zoning, and the office does an analysis and reviews the project to determine if it is appropriate,” said David Umansky, CEO of Civic Builders, a non-profit developer of charter school facilities. “Not every school is approved, but we received one quite some time ago, and the facility is in full compliance.”
The structure will reach approximately five stories along the front, on the Bronxdale Avenue side, with a 40% reduction, along the rear of the building to accommodate the residential area behind the school.
“The original plans shown to the community and to Community Board 11 were for five stories, so this building isn’t a surprise to anyone,” said John Fratta, district manager of CB11. “Parking is the only issue we still have to work out.”
With the New York Sports Club having a $1 per hour fee for use of its parking lot, gym members search the local streets for free parking. Parking will be an issue addressed as the building’s construction progresses.
“The biggest issue throughout my district is always parking no matter where you go,” said Councilman Jimmy Vacca. “Lack of parking, the amount of cars and increased congestion do concern me. The school committed that they would vigorously explore parking accommodations and we will be holding them to their word.”