A leafy little block of west 107th street is pretty quiet 22 hours day of the day.
But around noon on school days, weather permitting, the street closes to traffic and opens to children on recess.
It’s all over in a couple of hours, but some block residents say the students’ playtime is no fun for them.
HOST: A leafy little block of west 107th street is pretty quiet 22 hours day the day. But around noon on school days, weather permitting, the street closes to traffic and opens to children on recess. It’s all over in a couple of hours, but some block residents say the students’ playtime is no fun for them. Leanna Orr reports.
NARR: The Traffic barriers were put up just after 11 am on a sunny day earlier this week. Safe from traffic, the kids come out to play.
SOUND: Bring up rapidly so it if full by the word “play”. warm under transition from quiet ambi to kids playing uphold 2 seconds, fade under
NARR: The kids are sixth graders from the Catholic Catholic Ascension School. They are neatly dressed in white and navy uniforms. Ten minutes are already up, and two teachers hustle the students into a line, back inside. It’s peaceful for a moment, and then the sixth graders file out… Seventh graders are next [describe the play, then lining up and being replaced by another group. Keep the noise hot. Describe how close Rosen’s house is before transioning to her complaint. But why start with a complaint about another person’s inconvenience instead of her a complaint about noise?] …and residents a half block walk from their doors
ROSEN: It’s been so loud that you can hardly hear yourself think.
NARR: The play street has become contentious ground. Carol Rosen’s third floor apartment faces the stained glass windows of the Ascension Church across the street. She wants recess to happen elsewhere—anywhere other than right below her window.
ROSEN: My work involves writing and I need peace and quiet when I’m able to write. And some of my work involves being on Skype and if the kids are out at the time I can’t hear the other party.
NARR: For Rosen and other outspoken neighbors noise isn’t the only issue. Rosen’s neighbor Samantha Burden says the barriers block out trucks and trap in cars.
BURDEN: Deliveries can’t come down the block until one o’clock. And there’s also alternate side of the street, which means we have to move it by 11:30, and they close it at 10:30 until 1:00.
NARR: Burden says she knows she is labeled as anti-children by her pro-play street neighbors. But she insists she is looking out for the students, too.
BURDEN: There’s no need for them to play in the middle of the street, where there’s dead rats that we see all the time.
NARR: Connie Sanchez used to be a teacher at Ascension School
SANCHEZ: and actually we have a petition, and we had close to 1,000 people sign the petition saying that it didn’t bother them.
NARR: To Connie Sanchez, the conflict involves more than noisy children.
SANCHEZ: The people who complain about the children also complain about the church, and the fact that they have masses and funerals. So, the church and the school can’t disappear.
NARR: Ascension School’s principal Chris McMahon takes a diplomatic approach to the two-year squabble.
MCMAHON: It’s those little inconveniences that have been piling up for a while. And we do understand the residents’ frustrations, and we’re doing everything we can to try and alleviate those stresses.
NARR: Now, something even louder and messier than noisy kids is coming to the block. Construction on a new building begins in a few weeks, and 107th street will have to remain open all day for work vehicles. That means no more play street for the time being. Rosen is grateful for the respite, even if she’s not getting a quiet street in the bargain.
ROSEN: I’m not looking forward to the construction noise. It may be one problem replaced with another. But I can’t speak to that now because it hasn’t happened yet.
NARR: It probably won’t make the block any quieter or student-safe, but it just might bring peace among the neighbors.
Leanna Orr, Columbia Radio News.