CB 10 votes against proposed P.S. 71 annex

Community Board 10 has voted its disapproval of the proposed P.S. 71 annex.

On Thursday, November 19, Community Board 10 held its monthly board meeting at Villa Barone Restaurant to vote on the proposal.

Stemming from a floor resolution from Thursday, November 12’s public hearing at P.S. 71 which did not reach quorum, the full board voted against having the proposed site, formerly a parking lot for the defunct Pelham Bay General Hospital, for an approximately $30 million 270-seat early childhood education center annex at Continental Avenue, East 197th Street and Hutchinson River Parkway Service Road and for notification of their decision to be sent to the New York City School Construction Authority and the New York City Department of Education.

The reasons presented by the board included the belief that the proposed annex wasn’t large enough to accommodate the projected increase in student population by the year 2018, the high traffic location would create a major issue for the children’s safety and the site placing an endue pressure on the surrounding community.

“The board felt that the school was too close to Hutchinson Riverway Parkway Service Road and that speeding motorists and traffic on that road posed a threat to student safety,” said Ken Kearns, Community Board 10 district manager. “The majority of the board opposed this proposal and we have wrote a letter to School Construction Authority to take into consideration our concerns and alternative sites for the proposed school.”

Kearns confirmed that the board mailed the letter to SCA on Monday, November 23 and awaits their response.

Bob Beider, CB 10 Youth Services and Education Committee chairman, felt the board made the right decision in voting against the proposal.

“The site itself really didn’t seem right for pre-k and kindergarten students especially since its in a high traffic area and it didn’t make a lot of sense from a fiscal standpoint either,” said Beider adding. “It doesn’t make any sense for the School Construction Authority and Department of Education to spend $30 million on building a small school for 270 students when the student population is expected to significantly increase in the next few years.The community as a whole is against it as it would only create more traffic and parking issues on top of safety concerns.”

Eduardo Hernandez, Community Education Council District 8 president, said the current stage of this proposal does not require an approval vote by CEC.

“There are further studies that need to be completed prior to the actual construction of the facility at which point we will fully address and work to remediate the concerns of the local community,” said Hernandez, adding. “Our CEC will vote on the product proposals once the impact study and construction design gets going and we conduct other community hearings.”

Hernandez said an approval vote from CB 10 would have simply gave the go ahead to Councilman James Vacca and DOE to present to the City Council a request for a transfer of the land from New York City Department of Transportation to DOE which would allow the latter to start the building process.

He added had CB 10 approved the proposal, there are no guarantees this transfer would be approved or the project would be completed.

Rosa Fella, a parent of a P.S. 71 student, is against the idea of the proposed early childhood facility and explained another building is needed for all P.S. 71 students.

“My son right now is in a classroom of 25 children,” said Fella adding. “The school is overcrowded and what we need instead of a pre-k and kindergarten facility is another building to make it ten or 15 students in a classroom instead. As it is now, the teachers are literally in a two-by-four classroom with 25 to 30 students; that’s ridiculous and unacceptable.”