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Administration Announces Schedule for Next Round of Capital Projects: Including Greenacres School

greenacresschoolEnding months of speculation about plans for the Greenacres School, Scarsdale's School Superintendent Thomas Hagerman and Assistant Superintendent Stuart Mattey announced that the district's new architects, BBS, would make an extensive presentation of their findings at Board of Education meeting on May 22, 2017.

The two emphasized that BBS had embarked on a full study of all district facilities and would consider next steps at Greenacres among other priorities. Hagerman told the Board that the district has been working with architects from BBS over the past few months to analyze all district facilities, combining reports provided by previous architects and engineers with their own findings about space utilization and a comparison of all the K-5 buildings to formulate design options for all district buildings. They said that BBS has conducted interviews with teachers and administrators to thoroughly understand the buildings and usage of the current space. The Superintendent promised a far reaching plan to address all district needs for decades to come from building systems to program needs. According to Mattey, "Last year we heard about ventilation at Greenacres – that turned out to be at all the buildings. We will have one comprehensive list. We have slotted two and a half hours to go through each district building and certainly Greenacres as well."

Asked by Board member Pam Fuehrer whether the architects would present design options for the Board to consider, Dr. Hagerman replied that the architects were "formulating innovative possibilities to address spatial utilization conflicts," and would come to the Board with their recommendations. She said, "When will we deliberate on choices? When are dollars attached and when will we deliberate on choices?" Hagerman replied, "On May 22 they will make a recommendation. They are coming to us with their best thinking.... They have produced reams of paper and diagrams.... They will have one comprehensive list analyzed in terms of engineering and spatial needs."

Discussing input from the community, Stuart Mattey said that the former building committees had already been contacted and would meet again in the next few weeks. When asked for clarification on who was on these committees, Mattey said the committees will include administrators, teachers and two representatives designated by the PTA.

Dr. Hagerman said that after each presentation from the architects residents would be surveyed for feedback. He said they were currently speaking to a PR firm with expertise in the area of surveying residents.

In order to hold a bond referendum in December 2017, Mattey provided the following timeline for formulation of projects for the district's next capital improvement plan:

May 22nd – BBS will give an in-depth presentation of their findings and present recommendations.

June 12th – BBS will return to the monthly board meeting with work refined by feedback after the initial presentation.

June 19th – A public forum will be held in the morning for a repeat presentation of the June 12th work with opportunity for community comment.

July 6th – The Board of Education will hold their re-organizational meeting and include time with the architects to narrow the scope of their work. At the July 6th meeting, the administration will put together a district wide community group to go through the priorities before they are handed back to the Board of Education for an August 24th meeting.

August 24th- Board meeting

October 16th - In order to meet the December referendum vote the board will adopt the proposed project.

Board member Scott Silberfein asked Dr. Hagerman, "What about the vision? Has this been conveyed to the architects? Hagerman replied, "They have spent hours and hours with us. They have captured the district wide vision.... They are taking a holistic approach to the building imbued with philosophy. They will be talking about model elementary school classrooms and conflicts where vision is not aligning with space. We are not talking about how much it costs. We want to put out the big ideas. Lets not talk about costs at the start."

Board President Lee Maude raised the issue of community comment at the May 22 meeting. She said, "Will we have comments? I would want comments after they hear the presentation. Maybe the start time should be earlier?"

Prior to the discussion about the May 22 meeting, several residents had commented to the Board on how the uncertainty about the Greenacres School was affecting home sales.

Raff Ezratty, a 22-year resident of 97 Garden Road said, "I am considering moving onto my next stage of life but I have discovered that Greenacres was discussed for a year and a half and I was told there would be some answers as of September. I am troubled because I spoke to Greenacrse Neighborhood Association who told me they have attempted to speak to Dr. Hagerman and I am shocked that they were unable to speak with him; the uncertainty factor is a tremendous issue. I have had people who were interested in our home but would not consider it because of the uncertainty at Greenacres. I ask that the board provide a timeline. Greenacres should not be unfairly affected."

Jon Krisbergh of Claremont Road said, "People in the community are anxious. They are uncertain about a renovation that may put their kids at risk. This is not just about what we will do – but if we will do the right thing. If we go down the route of renovation, no one is going to want to move in."

Elana Ezratty also from 97 Garden Road said, "I am a resident and a realtor. During our time here we have experienced several renovations that have all improved education here. Uncertainty is having a negative affect on the Greenacres housing market. Either a fantastically new 21st century school or a renovation will be an asset to the entire community. I urge you to make a decision and issue a timeline." She continued, "The new residency requirements are causing stress. We have to allow residents to be able to renovate their homes without having to move their children to another school. Residents get great satisfaction when renovations are done. Residency restrictions are making it difficult for people to embark on these projects."

Ira Hassan who lives next door to the Greenacres School at 35 Sage Terrace and had previously advocated saving Greenacres Field told the Board. "I have changed my posture on what I prefer. I am indifferent at this point. Whatever is decided will give people a reason to move here. The uncertainty is killing the real estate values. Eight realtors have told me that people in Manhattan are saying not to move to Greenacres.... we need a new school. Whatever the decision is – and I ask that you move it along. I would ask that we just decide."

Florence Alkalay a realtor from Stratton Road said, "I have a fabulous listing in Greenacres. We had 30 showings but the feedback is, "It's a great house but we don't know what's going on in Greenacres." Property values are important to everyone in this room. We all want our houses to be able to be sold. I got a call today and the clients said, "Please don't show me anything in Greenacres. People don't know what's happening." A decision has to be made quickly. Where are the children going to be during the renovation or the new construction? In trailers? They are petrified about that. There is a lack of knowledge on the part of the population here and among buyers."

Paulina Schwartz from Oakstwain Road said, "I don't think we're terrified of the trailers. I think the parents are much more worried about the kids being inside the school during construction. You won't be able to sell keeping the kids in that building."


#3 H Schwartz 2017-05-11 12:55
Will you ever stop being so biased?? If someone posts a comment that supports renovating the school as opposed to building one, why are you censoring it?
#2 send YOUR kids to the asbestos zone 2017-05-11 10:04
If we think the reval was an time/money/emot ional drain on the town?

We can debate the merits of the arguments, but shouldn't we expect parents to call for/sue for alternative accommodations for their children during what likely would be extensive and intrusive construction at GA?

money was one thing, their kids' health will be quite another
#1 Greenacres resident 2017-05-09 15:28
It is ironic that the Save the Field people now can't sell their houses. All of our houses are now worth less because of those signs and their petition!

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