After months of outcry from neighborhood residents annoyed at the Chapin School's expansion project and associated racket, officials at the school will announce at their monthly community meeting tonight that they are reducing their construction hours.
“We have been working with the city and our neighbors to find a balance that allows work to move forward efficiently and safely and also responds to feedback from our community,” said Anneli Ballard, Chapin's director of marketing and communications.
Outside work will now take place from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. No outside work will be done Sundays. A loud hoist, which hasn't been used yet but was a source of frustration for residents during Chapin's last expansion in 2008, will cease operation at 9 p.m. on weeknights and at 5 p.m. on Saturdays when operational. Interior work, which Ballard defined as “the renovation of many spaces within the existing building,” will continue outside of those hours as well as on Sundays. The reduced hours await approval from the Department of Buildings and are not yet official.
“Of course anyone would say that's definitely favorable,” said Lisa Paule, founder of the group Serene Green, which opposed the school's expansion plans because of quality-of-life issues. Paule was generally pleased to hear that some of the community's requests were being met, but was wary of celebrating the reduced external work hours since, she said, it was unclear how intrusive the continuing interior work would be. “It's a little perplexing,” she said.
Ballard listed “shear wall completion” and “mechanical set up” as examples of interior work.
The expansion project involves the addition of three stories, including a glass-encased gym, to the school's existing eight-story building at East End Avenue and East 84th Street. It is scheduled for completion in fall 2018.
Previously, work at Chapin was permitted from 7 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. And in mid-April, the DOB issued the school a 24/7 building permit, allowing contractors to work around the clock. The community was passionately against such a permit, and residents remain worried that though the 24/7 permit ended on April 28, Chapin's ability to secure it could foretell more 24/7 work. “It's nice that they're doing this but if they can still get after-hours variances at every juncture it kind of negates [the reduced hours],” Paule said.
City Councilman Ben Kallos, whose district includes the Yorkville neighborhood where Chapin is located, has kept tabs on construction and resulting concerns since the outset. “They've been under enormous pressure from me, the community, other elected officials,” Kallos said earlier today. “The community came out, made their voices heard, and ultimately things take time. … I think this is the result of several months of trial and error. On the flip side, Chapin was trying to do their best.”
Kallos added that the NYPD will step up their monitoring of East 84th Street both day and night to better control the traffic and bottlenecking caused by Chapin's construction shed. Ballard said there may also be “a limited number of weekends” during which street closure may be required.
The community will have an opportunity to discuss the new schedule with Chapin officials tonight's meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the school.
Madeleine Thompson can be reached at email@example.com