Vol. 11, No. 15 August 13 - 26, 1998


Local School Construction Zones


In our last issue we reviewed the many school construction and repair projects
underway in our communities. Following is more information regarding the work
at local schools.

PS 56: This dilapidated East 207th Street elementary school will receive a
massive $1.56 million facelift.

In addition to all 140 windows and the roof being replaced, several parapets
and two interior staircases will also be rebuilt. The project is slated to
finish in August 1999.

PS 56 will also have a new boiler by March 1999, according to the New York
City School Construction Authority (SCA).

PS/MS 95: Originally not designated for the first round of boiler
replacements, the Van Cortlandt Village school got pushed to the head of the
list, at the insistence of Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, when noxious fumes
emitted by the boiler caused an evacuation this spring.

The modern boilers are being funded by a state bond issue. Fred Winters, an
SCA spokesman, said design of the new heater will be completed in November
with construction to begin in December.

“We will begin the heating season with the temporary boiler,” said Bruce
Irushalmi, director of special projects for District 10. “It’s possible there
could be a conversion before the end of the heating season.”

MS 254: The SCA has awarded the contract for the new middle school, to be
located on Washington Avenue in Belmont but servicing children from PS 46, PS
246, and the future PS 54 in Fordham Bedford. The contractor, Manhattan-based
Canron Innovax, has built many schools for the city, according to Winters, and
had the green light to start work on July 1.

Canron’s project manager Lloyd Stark reported his company is waiting for an
excavation permit to start work, and may use this interval to clear the site
and dig a “test pit,” a hole used to find underground rock before construction
can begin.

PS 54: As of the end of July, contractor Leon D. Matteis had finished 67
percent of the new 600-seat elementary school on Webster Avenue, Winters said.
The project is on schedule for substantial completion in February 1999 and
“final completion” (the fixing of any errors found by SCA inspectors) by April

MS 80 Computer Lab and Windows: MS 80 on Mosholu Parkway is getting a new computer lab, earmarked for the school by City Councilwoman June M. Eisland in a 1996 member item. The project was originally scheduled for completion last September. The delays were due to the last-minute disqualification of the original contractor, according to the SCA.

The replacement of the first 178 of the almost 800 windows at MS 80 will be
complete by the beginning of the school year, according to SCA spokeswoman
Debra Perry.

PS 280: A 493-seat modular addition to the main school will allow PS 280,
which is crammed into too little space in the same building as MS 80, to have
its own facilities in the schoolyard.

The project has begun and will continue throughout the coming school year.
Canron Innovax, the same company that is building MS 254, has dug a massive
pit in the school yard and has extended fencing at the side of the school onto
Steuben Avenue.

Four red portable classrooms that have been uprooted to make room for the
addition now abut the Rochambeau Avenue side of the yard, separated from the
construction by a fence. Both Winters and Irushalmi confirmed they would be
repositioned and used for PS 280 classes until the addition is finished.

Winters said strict measures were being taken to protect children and school
staff during construction.

“It’s checked eight ways to Sunday,” Winters said. “[At PS 280], the kids
will be separated and safe from the construction.” Because of the fencing,
Winters said he saw no safety reasons to stop construction while PS 280 was in
session, but noise problems would fall under the judgement of the building’s
two principals.

When called for comment this week, no one answered the phone at PS 280 or MS 80. Speaking for the district administration, Irushalmi pledged a zero
tolerance policy against safety threats and “excessive noise.”

“If there’s noxious fumes, extreme noise — anything that is a health or safety
concern — the work won’t go on,” Irushalmi said.

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