UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — An Upper East Side school that is largely starved of outdoor space will soon have some on its own roof, thanks to millions pledged by local lawmakers — and voted on by neighbors.
Officials gathered Monday at the Yorkville Community School/P.S. 151, where work began during the pandemic on a $2.5 million outdoor play space on top of the building. It will be completed next year.
About half of the funding came from Councilmember Ben Kallos's office, including $500,000 that was chosen by Kallos's constituents in 2015 through his participatory budgeting process.
School Principal Samantha Kaplan, parent leaders and others from the school began pushing for the project at neighborhood meetings, including one at P.S. 151, which was the best-attended of all meetings during that budget cycle, according to Kallos's office.
Another $125,000 came from Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright's office, who spoke at the school on Monday along with Kallos and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney. Another $500,000 was carried over from a previous capital project, according to Kallos's office.
"We are more than excited to have this new rooftop playground. Thanks to our elected officials and our community, it is coming to fruition," said Kaplan, the principal, in a news release. "We are maximizing space and creating more outdoor play spaces for our children. They deserve this."
Designs shared by Kallos's office show a wide-open rooftop space surrounded by high fencing, with enough room for activities like tug-of-war and hula hooping.
Yorkville Community School opened in 2009. It had an enrollment of 425 last year, serving grades K-5.
In Kallos's most recent participatory budgeting round this year, the winning projects included $787,000 for laptops and other STEM programs in district schools, and $187,000 for planting street trees.
"As a parent in New York City, I understand the need for more green spaces for our children to run and play safely," Kallos said in a statement. "I am excited for students at YCS to have a safe space to get exercise and sunlight during the school day."