Bank Street's closure of 112th St must end!
Bank Street's closure of 112th St must end!
BANK STREET'S CLOSURE OF 112TH STREET MUST END!
The residents of 112th Street between Riverside and Broadway have lost patience with the Bank Street School for Children closing our public street from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm every school day. We object to a renewal of its permit for the 2021-22 school year. While we would welcome the opportunity to talk with the School's administration, it has ignored our attempts to reach out.
Here are the problems:
Hardship & Inconvenience - in closing our street, the Bank Street School has imposed severe hardships on local residents. It has blocked residents from neighboring buildings from getting to their homes, including ones who suffer physical handicaps, or are older and rely on car services or "Access-a-Ride." Indeed, we are concerned that, in engaging in such behavior, the School has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"). Thus, residents have been left with little choice but to file appropriate claims and to inform local elected officials. Furthermore, closing our street has disrupted package deliveries, USPS mail service, and service providers to our buildings. Parking has become a nightmare, and since September 2020, residents have incurred thousands of dollars in parking tickets. The School has at times gone as far as trying keep pedestrians from walking on the sidewalk altogether. Despite many complaints, during the School’s drop-off and dismissal times, parents constantly leave their cars on the Riverside Drive side street idling – increasing both noise and air pollution outside our homes. Residents have returned to their parked cars to find them scratched. Many have been upset to see so many young students play on the street without masks.
“Outdoor Learning” Has Been De Minimis - While the Bank Street School justified its request for the permit based on the need for “outdoor learning,” residents have observed almost none at all. Rather, the School has been using the street for parents, teachers, and students to spread out on 112th Street for student drop-off (8:00 to 8:30 am) and dismissal (3:00 to 3:30). While such Outdoor Learning permits may address the needs of schools with NO outdoor space, the Bank Street School has TWO outdoor spaces inside its building, and sits only 100 meters from Riverside Park.
Springtime = Use Riverside Park ! - If “voting” with their feet is any measure, the Bank Street School teachers prefer Riverside Park to 112th Street. According to one resident’s observations on a sample day (Tuesday, April 6), seventeen (17) classes of varying ages headed to Riverside Park (as they have done for years). Only TWO classes actually used our street for playing outside – and even then only at midday.
COVID Conditions have Improved Dramatically - - Since the issuance of the Bank Street permit, COVID conditions have improved. We suspect that all, or almost all of Bank Street School’s teachers are fully vaccinated. Furthermore, in March 2021, New York City’s Department of Education and the federal Center for Disease Control reduced “distancing” guidelines for schools from six (6) feet to three (3) feet. These current realities alone call for reevaluating the School’s permit or the extent of its use.
The Bank Street School is an Outlier - In September 2020, the City issued street closing “Outdoor Learning” permits to approximately 18 schools (12 private, 6 public) on the West Side (72nd to 142nd) and Harlem. Of those, Bank Street is the ONLY one still closing the full street for the full time. Fourteen (14) schools are no longer using their permits at all, while three (3) have voluntarily and dramatically reduced their use, for example closing streets only during lunchtime hours or for drop-off and dismissal times, and limiting street closing only to days with good weather.
Loss of Public Trust - Residents of 112th Street learned of the Bank Street permit and street closure in a September18, 2020 letter from the School, long after the permit had been issued. In asking for the drastic step of closing the street for a whole year, the Bank Street School should have at least consulted with its neighbors. It has not. Residents have tried to contact the School, and it ignores them. We were shocked when we learned that the School met with Community Board 9 in the early months of COVID-19 to seek the Board’s endorsement for the School’s closing plans and claimed that it had consulted with neighbors. Any such claim was false. The School never met with any of us. We remain ready to meet – if the Bank Street School wants to be a good neighbor and start earning back the trust of its neighborhood.