When students returned last Thursday for the first day of classes at P.S. 254, they had no schoolyard.
Just a week before classes started at the school, also known as the Dag Hammarskjold school, construction crews came in and demolished the entire play area located behind the school between East 18th and East 19th Streets on Avenue Y. The sandbox became completely unusable and the concrete was ripped up leaving the ground ready to be repaved. Since the time that the demolition occurred, there has been little to no activity and construction appears to be at rest — at least for a while.
Signs on the fence state that the park is closed, with none of them listing a date of completion. Our sources tell us that although the construction crew has up to one year to complete the job, work is not expected to extend beyond the end of October. We were also informed that there will be a water fountain and a new sitting area. The original sitting area covered by trees was in disrepair with splintered benches, which are slated to be completely replaced.
When the annex to the original building was built years ago, the elementary students lost some play space to get some more classroom space. This latest construction starting a week before school, means that students will have recess indoors for the entire Fall 2009 season, as well as possibly into the Spring. Once the construction is done, though, there will be a major change: the schoolyard will be locked after school hours. Our source said that the schoolyard is not NYC Parks property and it is supposed to be closed after school hours.
Readers, do you have children who attend P.S. 254? If so, write in and let us know what they have to say about recess indoors. For those of you who like to play handball and basketball in the playground when school is closed and during the summers, let us know what you think about the planned policy of locking out locals at dusk.