P.S.71 to get a green roof

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has released a whopping $37.6 million in funding for new projects as part of his new 2011 budget, and Pelham Bay students and parents should be especially excited. Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars of the money — one of the largest allocations for any of the projects — will be devoted to a new green roof for P.S. 71, the Rose E. Scala School.

P.S. 71 is one of many that receives no Title I services from the city, so that it has to rely heavily on parent and teacher volunteer work.

School administrators have said this makes it the perfect place for a new initiative that stands for environmentalism, change, social consciousness and preservation.

“That’s wonderful news, I’m glad to hear it,” said Kenneth Kearns, district manager of Community Board 12, when he found out about the green roof. For Councilman Jimmy Vacca, though, the school is his almamater. Vacca graduated from P.S. 71 as a kid.

“Oh, it’s very exciting news,” he said. “This will make P.S. 71 one of the few schools in the borough to have a green roof.”

Having given money to P.S. 71 often in the past for major overhauls like a new gymnasium and outdoor playground, Vacca was delighted to see the school getting some love from the borough president.

However, Vacca noted, it’s also more than just a useful feature to be added to the school’s structure.

Vacca pointed out an element that not many think of when they hear about building additions.

“It will also provide a great science lesson for our kids,” he said, explaining that the students will be able to not only enjoy the greenery up on their roof, but by having it, also learn more about how it works.

And how does it work? Green roofs have become a major trend in the borough, with a whole score of low-income housing developments, senior centers, and public buildings adding them to their architecture in the past year.

Green roof gardens typically contain special soil and plants that work to soak up water in storms, insulate a building — thereby saving costs on heating and air conditioning — and constantly produce clean, fresh air.

Buildings with green roofs have been proven to give residents (or students, in this case) a healthier enviornment, in addition to something pretty to take in with your eyes.

The highest percentage of the borough president’s funding this year, like last year, went to education, for a total of 33 percent or $12,227,000.

In addition to the central project of the green house on the roof of P.S. 71, education efforts include new auditorium seats, AC, and renovated bathrooms for P.S. 333 The Museum School, and upgraded hardware and software for the computers at P.S. 43.

“Nothing is more important than the education of our youth, and my office will continue to do everything that it can to make sure that Bronx students have the best possible facilities in which to learn,” said Diaz.

As for the rest of the funds, Diaz allocated 25 percent ($9,582,000) to housing, 12 percent ($4,690,000) to parks, and the rest to libraries, environmental initiatives, and other cultural institutions.

Pelham Bay residents might also be interested to hear that $350k of the new funds is going to repaving, signage, and striping on the Pelham Parkway Greenway Path.

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