The community is crying foul over a canceled meeting with the School Construction Authority to discuss the P.S.14 expansion now under construction.
The meeting, which community leaders said has been postponed a number of times, was supposed to be a dialogue between stakeholders who live near P.S. 14 and the SCA on Wednesday, December 28 at the school building.
Senator Jeff Klein arranged the meeting, and he said he was hopeful that it would be rescheduled for later in January.
He also said that an earlier meeting, on Wednesday, December 14 was canceled because of the holidays.
Klein said that he understands the importance of the expansion, which will provide 344 new seats, a science room and a new cafeteria.
“At the same time, I think the community should have been engaged, especially those who live close to the school,” said Klein. “Clearly, their lives are going to be disturbed during the next couple of years of construction.”
The senator said he has requested to select people for a community advisory board that he wants to create with the SCA for the duration of the P.S. 14 project.
“We have requested that the SCA put together a community advisory board that would meet periodically to address any concerns (regarding) the construction project,” said Klein. “We would suggest who would be on it, and the SCA would have their project manager and their Bronx community relations sit on this advisory board and to make sure that over the long haul of the construction we would inconvenience the community as little as possible.”
Andrew Chirico, Waterbury LaSalle Community Association board member, said that he was dismayed because the meeting has been cancelled several times.
An earlier meeting did take place between WLCA board members, SCA officials and Councilman James Vacca, but that was before construction started, said Chirico.
“I don’t know why they just don’t get it over with,” said Chirico . “There are people who want to know what is going on, who live on the block and are affected by the construction, and who want to hear it from the ‘horse’s mouth.’”
Chirico said that community groups and other stakeholders want a firm date to be set as to when the meeting will be rescheduled.
The WLCA and some in the community were initially opposed to the size of the expansion, arguing that the streets around P.S. 14 were already overloaded with traffic on school days and that the construction would only make matters worse.
WLCA board member Scott Bernard said that he is concerned about traffic during the project, which is very near his home.
He said that the school and a busy supermarket across the street already create major traffic congestion and that he believes the community should have more input.
“I think that it is the perfect example of how the Department of Education refuses to face the community,” he said.
A DOE spokesman said that the December 28th meeting was canceled due to the holidays and is being rescheduled.
“Community engagement is critical and we continue to work closely with the school, families and elected officials throughout this process to ensure the project meets the needs of the school community,” stated the agency.