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You are here: Home Letters to the Editor Greenacres Elementary School Task Force Calls for Full SEQRA Review of Proposed Elementary School Construction
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Greenacres Elementary School Task Force Calls for Full SEQRA Review of Proposed Elementary School Construction

craneA group of 400 concerned Scarsdale residents called the Greenacres Elementary Task Force has retained the law firm of Zarin and Steinmetz who notified the Scarsdale Board of Education about their safety concerns in regards to the proposed construction at Greenacres Elementary School.

In a letter dated October 4, 2017 they pose comments on the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) in regards to the project. They ask that the district incorporate "all measures necessary to guarantee the health and safety of the School community. This includes evaluating all potential measures to keep students, teachers, staff and parents out of "harm's way" during construction, such as the use of temporary off-site modular classrooms."

The lawyers say the project plans contain minimal details about protective measures and that all experts retained concluded "that there is insufficient information to determine whether the community will be adequately protected from potential dangers associated with the large-scale renovation process."

The letter calls for testing for asbestos and lead prior to construction, as well as details on how the interior work can be completed in two 10-week summer vacation periods. It calls for the district to take measures to limit the infiltration of dust into classrooms by installing air conditioning. It cites concerns about parking, traffic and children's access to the playground across the street during and after the construction. It asks the district how they will address sustained increases in noise during construction.

The lawyers found that based on the information released by the district there is insufficient "Record before your Board to issue a SEQRA determination of significance." It asks the district to undertake the necessary studies, to identify potential impacts and develop a project design that addresses these impacts "through alternative or mitigation measures."

The letter goes on to document the risks of environmental toxins to children and cites cases to support their claims. Among these potential risks are lead, asbestos, mold and harmful dust. It also calls on the district to do a traffic study to analyze the impact of the construction on the neighborhood, to identify the safest and most efficient routes for the construction equipment and to analyze the placement of the staging area. It also calls for the implementation of safety procedures during drop off and pick up.

Construction noise could also have significant impacts on the neighborhood and students inside the school. The letter cites a study that found that increased noise results in delays in reading comprehension for children and provides guidelines for safe noise levels. It also calls for a detailed construction plan for SEQRA designation.

The 13-page letter ends by saying, "We hope that the District will recognize the serious risks identified herein and, as required under SEQRA, diligently study and pursue the proper safety and mitigation measures to address the deficiencies in your Record for the Project to date before moving ahead with the bond referendum on the project."

The Scarsdale Schools administration recently moved the proposed bond referendum vote back from December, 2017 to January, 2018 and announced that asbestos, air quality and mold testing were being done at Greenacres. No results are available as yet. But perhaps this letter was the reason for the delay – as time was needed for a full SEQRA review.

Read the letter and experts' reports here

Comments   

-3 #28 I Dont Get It 2017-10-31 15:59
There is no construction going on at the playground. It is a staging area that is completely fenced off. Your kids really can't be anywhere near a portable toilet? What exactly is going to happen to them? How would you expect any improvement renovation to the school to ever be done if this is your position?

Quoting Greenacres Parent:
The concerns go beyond "safety" -- I think there are major quality of life issues for Greenacres students, particularly with the playground and its proximity to the construction staging area (i.e. dumpsters, portable toilets) and the construction site. Personally, I'm not comfortable with my kids using that playground surrounded by construction. I think we need an alternative playground site during construction. Parts of the playground (swings, climbing structure) are already located closer to Putnam -- those should be supplemented. This would keep kids away from construction and make supervision easier for staff (since the staging area will divide the Putnam side of the field/blacktop from the Sage Terrace playground). This is not the place to cut corners.
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+3 #27 To One Note 2017-10-31 09:40
I agree. It’s almost as if Roger doesn’t realize that his statements are being recorded... I too would feel much better about the project if he didn’t “misspeak” so much.

Quoting One note:
I’m just saying that I would feel far more comfortable with all aspects of this project if Roger Smith at BBS Architects was more honest about what was and was not going to be done under the latest plans. At the Recent GA forum, Roger “misspoke” about a lot of things. If he were more straightforward, i think many residents would feel less on edge.
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+7 #26 GA parent 2017-10-30 11:07
This could all be easily solved if the administration was willing to work with parents rather than dismissing them. The reality is that there are parents that believe that this project is not okay with their kids in the building (for safety and/ or disruption reasons). Those parents are going to do everything they can to stop this unless you give them an out. Why not let parents move their kids to the other schools during construction if they want to? Maybe the answer is to use the 6 trailers in the budget to let let parents opt in to a class section that is there. Be creative. The answer is not to poo poo their concerns. If they do, this project is headed towards a lawsuit that will add a large amount of cost and time. Is that what we really want?
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+6 #25 One note 2017-10-30 10:11
I’m just saying that I would feel far more comfortable with all aspects of this project if Roger Smith at BBS Architects was more honest about what was and was not going to be done under the latest plans. At the Recent GA forum, Roger “misspoke” about a lot of things. If he were more straightforward , i think many residents would feel less on edge.
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+2 #24 Caleb H. 2017-10-30 10:04
Quoting Heathcote Construction:
There is construction going on right outside the classrooms at Heathcote. Did we hear objections from the parents? No. The parents are happy their school is being improved and understand that some inconvenience goes with the territory.


I will point out that Heathcote performed demolition and removed its asbestos during the summer when the school (and even the fields and playgrounds) were empty.
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+4 #23 To GA Parent 2017-10-30 10:03
Zarin and Steinmetz are experts on the SEQRA process. I am not. I am happy that they will be ensuring that the full process is adequately followed. This is not to say that the Board and Administration would not do everything required, but so am very happy to have someone make sure on behalf of the community. No one should be antagonized that knowledgeable professionals have been hired to ensure that the interests of residents are fully considered.
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+4 #22 Greenacres Parent 2017-10-30 10:02
The concerns go beyond "safety" -- I think there are major quality of life issues for Greenacres students, particularly with the playground and its proximity to the construction staging area (i.e. dumpsters, portable toilets) and the construction site. Personally, I'm not comfortable with my kids using that playground surrounded by construction. I think we need an alternative playground site during construction. Parts of the playground (swings, climbing structure) are already located closer to Putnam -- those should be supplemented. This would keep kids away from construction and make supervision easier for staff (since the staging area will divide the Putnam side of the field/blacktop from the Sage Terrace playground). This is not the place to cut corners.
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-7 #21 Heathcote Dad 2017-10-30 06:39
Invoking SEQRA (through a law firm) is strong evidence of an intent to use legal process to slow down and muck up a project to defeat it not on it's merits but on creating a costly legal morass that all sensible people would want to avoid. First there was a group "Save our Field" - against the construction of a new school. Has this group morphed into a legal action group? Concerns for student health is paramount, but this can be addressed without SEQRA review - unless they have no trust in the School Board and the intention is to stop the project using SEQRA. On the other hand, "If you like your (school) you can keep your (school.)"
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-5 #20 GA Parent 2017-10-29 21:45
Why wouldn’t it be? And more importantly, what exactly are you concerned about? The safety concerns have been addressed over and over again. No one who looks at this reasonably thinks there are really safety issues here after considering the precautions being put in place.

Quoting To GA Parent:
The lawyer will make sure the SEQRA process is adequately followed. That’s a good thing!
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-3 #19 Heathcote Construction 2017-10-29 21:42
There is construction going on right outside the classrooms at Heathcote. Did we hear objections from the parents? No. The parents are happy their school is being improved and understand that some inconvenience goes with the territory.
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