A proposed P.S. 71 annex raised concerns among the Pelham Bay community at a public hearing last week.
Community Board 10, Community Education Council District 8 and concerned neighbors attended the Thursday, November 12 hearing to discuss the proposed early learning annex with the School Construction Authority.
Only a dozen parents attended the informational meeting.
The city owned site under review for the proposed $30 million 270-seat facility is a 28,000 square foot lot at the southwest corner of Continental Avenue and Hutchinson River Parkway East, formerly a parking lot for the defunct Pelham Bay General Hospital, and would take three to four years to design and construct.
“Our hope is the site will help alleviate overcrowding at P.S. 71 and also ensure students in the district continue to have access to free, full-day, high-quality pre-k close to their homes,” said Harry Hartfield, DOE deputy press secretary. “The design phase for this project has not started yet and after the completion of the public review process there will be more information to share.”
In lieu of any specific plans or renderings, last Thursday evening’s public hearing instead opened the topic for public discussion.
A CB 10 vote on the matter was scuttled until last night’s general meeting because the board did not have a quorem present.
The concerns raised included the proposed site being too small to accommodate the school or allow for any future expansion, its proximity to the Pelham Grand supportive housing complex, the Hutchinson River Parkway 3E exit, parking issues and traffic safety in the local area.
CB 10 told the SCA that, if built, all school entrances would have to be located on Continental Avenue.
SCA is accepting public comments on the proposed annex via sites
“Even though no decision was made that night and we wished we had more parent representatives at the hearing,” said Ken Kearns, CB 10 district manager. “It was a great opportunity for the School Construction Authority to hear the concerns of both the board and CEC 8 and take to note of these concerns.”
“I think the public hearing went well even though we couldn’t vote on the proposal,” said John Marano, CB 10 first vice chairman. “All who attended were able to share their opinions and if I had to take anything away from the public hearing, it seems like everyone is against the proposed annex.”
Kearns and Marano said CB 10 would discuss the proposed P.S. 71 annex at its Thursday, November 19 full board meeting at Villa Barone Restaurant where the board would vote on the proposal.
Kearns noted CEC 8 would have to vote on the proposal at their own meeting which has yet to be set.
“I was disappointed there weren’t more parents speaking out or for this proposal, but I appreciated what the board brought up to the School Construction Authority about it and I feel they were really listening to what everyone had to say about it,” said Michele Torrioni, Pelham Bay Taxpayers Association president. “I hope the School Construction Authority takes all of our concerns to heart as they evaluate the site.”
“We want a new school, but our concerns are for the children’s safety,” said Carmine Loconsole, East 197th Street resident. “SCA wants to build a school that will be obsolete in two to three years and SCA admits they’re going to need more space later on. It should be designed to fit our needs for the next 15 or 20 years, especially with more families moving into the neighborhood.”