ASTORIA — Parents at P.S. 166 are looking to close off a neighborhood block to traffic for a few hours a day so their play-deprived kids can have more time outdoors.
PTA members at the Astoria school are applying to add a "play street" on 34th Street between 34th and 35th avenues, as part of a city program that temporarily shuts down streets to use them as recess spaces for kids.
Children at the school only have recess twice a week, because its 1,200 students are forced to share a courtyard that's too small to offer them daily outdoor time, parents said.
"Children ages 4 to 10 are faced with an entire school day, plus after school in many cases, confined to the school's indoor areas," PTA president Freddie McConnell said.
He and other parents appealed to Community Board 1 for a letter of support during its monthly meeting Tuesday, where they were joined by kids holding signs that said "Have Some Play Every Day," and "More Recess 4 Success."
"Without real play during the school day, the impact is felt long after the final bell rings," McConnell said.
"We see it as we watch our children break free at dismissal, we feel it when we try to get them to sit still for just a few minutes to wrap up their math problems, read a book or even to eat their dinner."
Parents said P.S. 166's original playground was razed when the city constructed a new wing of the school. The PTA said it originally asked the city to build a playground on the building's roof, but decided to pursue a play street as a less expensive and quicker alternative.
The play street would close the 34th Street block for three hours a day, from 10:15 to 11:15 a.m., and the space used by the children would be blocked off to cars by barricades, parents said.
CB1 voted to support the school's application for a play street, though one board member objected because the street sits just two blocks from Kaufman Astoria Studios, which permanently closed 36th Street to traffic in order to build its outdoor film lot in 2013.
"We all understand how much kids need to play. They need time outside every day," Lisa Karakaya, whose son is in third grade at P.S. 166, told board members.
"If we Astorians can make room for a movie studio... if we can make room for our dogs to play in our new dog park, we can make room for our kids," she added.
The PTA is planning to submit the play streets application to the Department of Transportation by Nov. 19. They'll be able to use the space this spring if it's approved, they said.