The request, which would close off 48th Avenue between Center Boulevard and 5th Street during recess hours, was previously filed by the school and its PTA to provide students with sufficient play space. However, the application was recently denied for the third time by DOT.
“We want them to have a meaningful breath of fresh air,” said PTA co-president Genevieve Bernier. “That’s all we're really asking for.”
According to Bernier, DOT denied the applications for a variety of reasons, ranging from nearby loading zones to a parking garage.
However, she explained that a loading zone was not present in the requested portion, and the proposal did not extend up to the garage.
A DOT spokesperson said the Play Street was denied due to safety concerns based on the layout, nearby parking facility, and frequent commercial traffic.
“Typically, DOT implements Play Streets on one-way streets due to the predictable nature of vehicular movements and clear sight lines,” the spokesperson said.
Although the school has its own playground, Van Bramer explained it is insufficient to meet the needs of the school, which has 700 students.
“This partial, temporary street closure would not negatively impact our community and would improve the quality of life for the students and families of PS/IS 78,” Van Bramer said.
Bernier said the proposal would provide students with additional space for recess and activities such as organized games and free play.
In addition, the 108th Precinct supports the proposal and has offered to buy the necessary barriers and provide safety assistance.
Bernier explained the PTA currently spends $80,000 annually on a program in order to walk students to a space nearby for recess. However, factors such as travel time cut into recess time.
According to Bernier, the DOT has suggested that students walk across Center Boulevard to nearby parks. But she was critical of this suggestion due to the lack of physical boundaries other than water.
“We all just need to pull through for these kids because they need to play outside and have a break during the day,” she said.