Volume 20 Issue 21 | October 5 - 11 2007

P.S. 234 pushing for covered path to annex

Anyone who has ever tried to bundle a 5-year-old into a snowsuit can probably imagine the task that teachers in the new P.S. 234 annex will face this winter, when they will have to herd whole classes

of kindergarteners and first graders across the blustery school courtyard several times a day.

Compared to the boon of lower class sizes and sparkling new facilities, the bad weather dash has rated as an unfortunate side effect in the minds of most school community members. Still, a group of parents decided last spring that the inconvenience could easily be avoided by putting up a covered walkway between the main school and the annex. They pitched their concept to Councilmember Alan Gerson, whose office has been working on it ever since, along with developer Jonathan Resnick. The Resnick company built the 200 Chambers St. condo that houses the annex.

On the first day of school, first-grade teacher Mara Sombrotto told the Downtown Express that while it was “hard to find anything to complain about” in her new annex classroom, she was hoping the covered walkway would come to fruition.

“We’re still in the honeymoon with the weather,” Sombrotto said then. “I was in here during that week in August when it got cold and rainy and I thought, ‘Boy, if it’s like this for the entire year, it could be rough.’”

David Feiner, one of Gerson’s aides, came to the Community Board 1 Youth and Education Committee on Sept. 25 to update local education advocates on the push for a walkway. He told the group that while the parents had originally envisioned a simple canvas tent, the school may need a more permanent covering that would last longer and meet government safety codes.

Resnick is paying to design and engineer the structure. Once the engineering study is done, Feiner said, the groups involved will have a better idea of how much time and money they will need to construct the walkway. At that time, Gerson and Resnick can meet to decide how to pay for the cover. Feiner told C.B. 1 that Resnick has not ruled out contributing to the cost. Resnick was unavailable to comment for personal reasons. Feiner added Wednesday that although the city is between budget cycles, “that doesn’t mean the councilmember can’t be creative to make this happen.”

And even if the permanent walkway takes more time to build or costs more money than a canvas tent, Feiner said, “In the long run, it makes sense to do it right and to be a little more patient.”

— Skye H. McFarlane

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