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76th Street Should Be Closed to Become Play Street, School Officials Say

By Shaye Weaver | September 9, 2016 4:14pm | Updated on September 12, 2016 8:42am
 Robert Wagner Middle School is asking that East 76th Street, between Second and Third avenues, is closed as a play street until construction on its building is completed.
Robert Wagner Middle School is asking that East 76th Street, between Second and Third avenues, is closed as a play street until construction on its building is completed.
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DNAinfo/Shaye Weaver

UPPER EAST SIDE — Robert Wagner Middle School officials want to close East 76th Street to traffic during school lunch hours to give students a place to play while construction work is done.

Neslí Ciner, a co-president of the school's PTA, approached Community Board 8 at Wednesday's transportation committee meeting to explain that 1,500 of its students are running out of play space due to ongoing construction work at the 220 E. 76th St. school.

The school, which teaches sixth through eighth graders, would like to close the street, between Second and Third avenues, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., during lunch time on Mondays through Fridays through the end of 2017, when construction is slated to wrap up.

Residents and businesses would still have access to a parking garage across from the school, but school staff would be on hand during those hours to make sure there are barricades to block off the play area.

"It's a temporary solution," Ciner said. "Over half of our yard is taken and there's no room for children to run around. It's becoming unsafe. There are glass pieces on the floor [of the play yard] and kids running around could get hurt."

The construction, which began this summer, is repairing the building's brick work and roof, which hasn't been replaced in 17 years, Ciner said.

A resident of the street, Sheila Wyle, said neighbors have already had to go through a noisy summer with the construction and there should be "some consideration" of the people who live there.

"It will be just another inconvenience for the people who live between Second and Third avenues," she said.

But Upper East Side resident Judy Schneider said the closure should be allowed because the neighborhood's schools are "very, very old and need to be restored."

"I urge my fellow community members to support the play street," she said. "It's not permanent. It's only temporary and will go back to its normal use."

The transportation committee supported the idea, which will be floated to the full community board on Sept. 21. The Department of Transportation will then consider the request once it receives a resolution from the board.