Long standing plans for a new fence to ring the I.S. 44 schoolyard got one step closer to reality after the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District announced a new infusion of funding Feb. 11.
The BID received a $350,000 capital grant, arranged by Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, to cover most of the project’s cost. The BID will cover the balance.
The new fence would replace the present chain-link fence that runs up the west side of Columbus Avenue, between West 76th and 77th streets, and extends halfway up each block to enclose three schools: West Prep Academy (which is being phased in as J.H.S. 44 is phased out), the Computer School and the Anderson School. Designed by Richard Dattner and William Stein, principals of Dattner Architects, the fence will also incorporate live plants that will grow up the façade. The architecture firm is best known in the neighborhood for designing the West 72nd Street subway station and plaza.
“I’m very happy that the grant has been awarded. I’ll be most happy when I see it up,” Rosenthal said. “Now the kids in the schoolyard won’t have to look out like they’re in prison.”
The current fence has been in the BID’s sights since the organization was established in 1999.
“This is something we’ve been looking at from the get-go,” said Barbara Adler, the BID’s executive director. “When we first got started, almost immediately, we decided the fence that was there was an eyesore, and we started looking at ways to replace it.”
The BID has also been raising funds to cover the cost of the project, estimated at $500,000, through its annual New Taste of the Upper West Side food festival, which West Side Spirit has joined as a sponsor. The festival raised $50,000 in start-up funds during its first year, 2008. The fundraiser, spanning two days this year—May 21 and 22—will include three separate events. Tickets are now available at www.NewTasteUWS.com.
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