Proposed P.S. 71 annex raise concerns

Proposed P.S. 71 annex raise concerns
The Department of Education and School Construction Authority have issued a proposal to build a P.S. 71 annex for early learning classes on the now defunct Pelham Bay General Hospital’s former parking lot.
Community News Group / Robert Wirsing

A vacant parcel of land, previously used as a parking lot for the defunct Pelham Bay General Hospital, is being eyed as an annex for P.S. 71.

The Department of Education and the New York City School Construction Authority have proposed an early learning center on the site located between Continental Avenue and Hutchinson River Parkway East, a block down from the Pelham Grand.

According to Councilman James Vacca, he proposed three years ago that the former Pelham Bay General Hospital building be used by P.S. 71 to help alleviate the school’s overcrowding, however the New York City School Construction Authority and the building’s owner, Moujan Vadhat, did not come to terms.

Instead, the former hospital building was converted into supportive housing.

As of press time, Community Board 10 said a public hearing on the proposed annex at Continental Avenue was scheduled for Thursday, November 12 at P.S. 71 to decide this proposal’s fate.

According to Ken Kearns, CB 10 district manager, the public hearing does not feature any architectural renderings or specific plans.

The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether CB 10 and Community Education Council District 8 agree to use this space as a early childhood facility.

The annex would seat 250 youngsters.

CB 10 said an annex is needed, however they are concerned about parking issues and its proximity to the Pelham Grand.

Michele Torrioni, Pelham Bay Taxpayers president, explained the area encompassing the proposed site is already congested with local traffic.

Cars speed off the Hutchinson River Parkway 3E exit to reach I-95 North or Bruckner Boulevard.

“Now we want to put a school with small children, school buses, parents dropping off and picking up their children along this corridor, is this a wise decision?” asked Torrioni, adding. “The amount of cars that travel through this area already causes congestion and concerns for the Pelham Bay community and adding more cars and school buses will only add to the problem.”

“We all realize that P.S. 71 is overcrowded, but is this location the ideal spot? “ she added. “This seems like a Band-Aid is being placed on a larger problem. They only want to use this location because it is already city owned.”

“We certainly need a new school, but I don’t believe that this is an appropriate site for it,” said Mary Jane Musano, Waterbury-LaSalle and Homeowners Association president. “If they put anything there, it shouldn’t be for pre-k and kindergarten students because you will have people blocking a major thoroughfare there.”

“There are 1,700 students at P.S. 71 and having 250 students at this annex wouldn’t really alleviate their overcrowding issue,” said Annie Boller, CB 10 board member and 45th Precinct Community Council treasurer. “They would need a bigger building in a much safer location and everyone agrees that all of the elements present at this site will only cause more havoc.”

P.S. 71 and the Department of Education did not return requests for comment before press time.

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