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City Grants Chapin School 24/7 Work Permits, Driving Neighbors Mad

By Shaye Weaver | April 18, 2016 12:32pm
 Neighbors of the Chapin School for girls are fighting for peace on East 84th Street.
Neighbors of the Chapin School for girls are fighting for peace on East 84th Street.
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The Chapin School

YORKVILLE — Chapin School is set to start another bout of noisy, all-day-all-night renovation work, just as neighbors say they were beginning to recover from the sleepless nights caused by its last construction project.

The city has again approved a series of after-hour work permits for Chapin's latest renovation project, including one that allows the school to do interior demolition and excavation work 24/7 for nearly two weeks, according to Department of Buildings records.

Neighbors are demanding that the school work with residents to limit work at night and weekends.

"Chapin has been dismissive of the community's needs and disrespectful with the noise and ruckus and its use of 84th Street in front of residential buildings as a loading dock," said Lisa Paule, a resident of East 84th Street. "They're now preparing for a situation that will not be acceptable."

The DOB granted the school at least 92 after-hours permits since last year, including the most recent permit issued last Thursday that allows the school to do noisy excavation and demo work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from April 15 through April 28, according to online records.

When asked why the 24/7 work was necessary, a spokesman for the DOB cited city rules.

"Work within and near schools must take place outside of standard work hours to ensure the safety of students," the spokesman said. "The work variances issued at this address were issued for public safety reasons as permitted under the City's Administrative Code."

The exterior construction is expected to wrap up sometime in 2017, while the interior work is slated to be completed in 2018, according to a Chapin School spokeswoman. 

The Chapin School — an all-girls private school that counts powerhouses like Ivanka Trump and Jacqueline Onassis as alumni — just wrapped up a project last spring to revamp a cafeteria at their 100 East End Ave. building, involving work that lasted into nights and weekends for months, residents said.

"It was hard to sleep for months at a time," said resident Bill Griffo, who lives across the street from Chapin. "When kids come home from school they have two, maybe three, hours of homework and it's highly disruptive to hear drilling and pounding into the evening. We feel that it is our time and there's no reason for construction to be going on past 6 p.m."

The school is now looking to build three stories on top of its eight-story building to make room for a gym, a second dining hall and additional classrooms.

In addition to the noise, a plywood construction wall from the last project still remains on the street in front of the school, taking up two of three lanes of traffic.

In March, an ambulance had to park in the street to take care of someone in an apartment across from Chapin, and the cars behind it had to drive up on the curb to get through the street, Paule said.


East 84th Street

"People have had it," Griffo said. "They're completely fed up with the hours that Chapin wants to work. We don't expect to stop the project, they have their rights, but there has to be an allowance made with the understanding that they operate in a residential neighborhood."

A spokeswoman for Chapin said the school's management company, IBEX, will work to mitigate the impacts of construction by installing sound buffers and black-out covering on windows, doors and openings. 

"Chapin is committed to being a good neighbor and remains extremely sensitive to the construction effects on others in the community," she said. "The school will continue to work closely with IBEX to mitigate quality-of-life issues associated with temporary construction, and is striving to complete this project in an efficient and expeditious manner to reduce inconvenience to all while realizing its academic goals."

Councilman Ben Kallos said he has also been working with the school to establish a noise mitigation plan, which it will share with residents, and not to do any "noisy activities" after a certain time. They will still use their electric elevator at night to lift materials, but it will not be the diesel one they used previously, Kallos said.

The school has agreed to meet regularly with the residents and provide a two-week look-ahead with resident input.

Chapin School will hold a community meeting about the project on April 26 at 6:30 p.m.

Correction: Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the size of the school's expansion. The school is adding three stories to its 100 East End Ave. building.