P.S. 163 officials and parents are planning for an influx of new students, and help may come from Jewish Home Lifecare. The nursing home is in discussions with the public school to provide space in its new development on West 100th Street.
Jewish Home Lifecare, based on West 106th Street, generated some controversy last year when administrators announced the construction of a new state-of-the-art nursing facility on West 100th Street. The organization originally planned to renovate the facility on its current property, but when the economic downturn made it difficult to find a partner developer, Jewish Home swapped its West 106th Street property with Joseph Chetrit, a developer who owned the West 100th Street parcel that will soon become the organization’s nursing facility.
Parents are concerned that the hundreds of new residential units built near the school in the past decade could bring in new students to a building that is overcapacity. Students are already using trailers behind the school for additional space.
“It makes a nice space for now, but we’re looking 10 years down the road,” said Carrie Reynolds, co-president of the school’s Parent Teacher Association.
One development proposal would include constructing a new Bloomingdale Library branch inside the nursing facility. A sheltered walkway behind the school would allow P.S. 163 students to get from their building, at 163 W. 97th St. between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues, to Jewish Home’s planned facility on West 100th Street.
“It would be a natural situation to take full advantage of that library,” Reynolds said. “I know the library is very excited to work with a school closely.”
The new library would be built partly on the current parking lot, abutting the existing library branch. Moving the footprint of the library away from the parking lot would allow for more open public space, according to Ethan Geto, a spokesperson for Jewish Home Lifecare.
In another proposal, the new facility could be used for pre-K programming, kindergarten classes or music and art rooms, though the library proposal is the frontrunner.
“We’re ready to do it, we can do it in this building, but we’ll have to look together to see where we can get the public funding,” Geto said.
The plan is only in the discussion stage. Exactly how much and what kind of space Jewish Home can provide to students has yet to be determined. But it’s clear that Jewish Home and the P.S. 163 community will have to do this without money from the Department of Education. The department has not allocated funds to the northern part of the school district, which is underutilized compared to the heavily crowded southern part. But that could change when capital funding plans are updated each year.
Money for the project, however, could come from local elected officials, including Borough President Scott Stringer and Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell. Both are supportive of working with Jewish Home to find more space for the school. n
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