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Battle over E. 107th St. school continues - SCA to alter building; critics remain adamantly opposed to project

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After months of wrangling, the School Construction Authority (SCA) has agreed to lessen somewhat the burden that will be imposed on homeowners living behind a new school site in Canarsie. According to City Councilmember Charles Barron, SCA representatives told homeowners living on East 108th Street at a recent meeting that they would borrow only 10 feet of homeowners’ back yards, for 15 months. SCA had originally planned to utilize as much as 15 feet of the residents’ backyards for a period of 30 months, for the construction of a new 506-seat Pre-K-to-8 school. P.S./I.S. 366 is planned to be constructed on the site of the former Canarsie Hebrew Academy, at 963-965 East 107th Street, plus an additional vacant lot that is adjacent. There are 15 two-family homes on East 108th Street that will be affected by the construction. “We have a two-pronged strategy,” Barron told this newspaper. “If we can’t stop it, we have to make it as painless as possible. The other part of the strategy is to see if there is any legal strategy to prevent them from encroaching.” “We really don’t want the school there, period,” noted East 108th Street resident Dolores Rose. “The fact is, it’s going to be six stories tall. It will be the tallest building in our area. It’s just a big, big mess. “They said, how will it affect you if there’s a school there already?” Rose went on. “Yes, there was a school there, but it had 200 students, at most, as opposed to 550. Parking is already terrible on the block. When the Belt Parkway is jammed, we can’t even get out of our driveways. And the garbage that’s gong to be out here – how much for 550 kids?” Besides general concerns about the school, said Rose, the residents have numerous concerns about the construction. “We’ve also asked about infestation from rats, and about the removal of asbestos (from the old yeshiva building),” Rose stressed. “They said they are doing it inside, but there are holes in the glass back here,” Rose pointed out. “I think they should have to cover them, but they say they don’t have to. They’re in there working, and who’s to know if they’re doing what they are supposed to be doing? They’re on the inside. We’re on the outside. We have a 93-year-old woman who needs air in the summer, but she’s not going to be able to open the windows for air.” The issues enumerated by Rose are ones that the community has forced the city to consider. Besides limiting the amount of property they need to borrow and shortening the amount of time that it would be necessary to encroach on residents’ property, SCA has also said they would, “Take care of rodents” and “Make sure there’s no danger to the community” while asbestos work is being done, said Barron. The councilmember also said he would talk to the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT), “To make sure the residents have special privileges” with respect to parking, and to the city’s Department of Sanitation (DOS), “To get more pickup” for trash generated by the school. By press time, DOE had not responded to a request for comment.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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