Thursday, September 24, 2009

School Construction Projects Moving Forward in Forest Hills

SCA Announces PS 196 Expansion; Metro Ave Campus on Time

By Conor Greene

The city Department of Education and School Construction Authority is making progress in its effort to provide additional seats for students in Central Queens, with several projects in Forest Hills moving forward as planned.

The SCA recently announced that the capacity of PS 196 on 113th Street will receive more than 400 new seats through an expansion and renovation effort that began recently. At the same time, work on the Metropolitan Avenue complex – which will be home to two separate schools – is progressing on budget and should be completed by September 2010, as scheduled.

Construction has begun on a three-story addition to the existing PS 196 building that will provide 408 new seats when completed in September 2011. In all, the expansion will include 644 seats, as some temporary classrooms now housed in trailers will be replaced with the new permanent building.

The expansion will result in 17 new standard classrooms serving students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. The fully air conditioned building will also include a student cafeteria with a full kitchen, a special education classroom, a music room, art room, science lab with prep room, medical and administrative offices and other support spaces.

Once the expansion is completed, renovations of the existing two-story building will begin and should be finished by February 2012, according to the SCA. That will include a newly expanded library, a new elevator and various building system upgrades. At that point, the school will have capacity for 1,260 students.

In all, the PS 196 project is expected to cost $29.8 million, according to the SCA.

Meanwhile, work is progressing at the Metropolitan Avenue site, which is at the intersection of 65th Avenue and will be home to two new schools. One will serve 700 intermediate and high school students, while the other will be a 1,000 seat high school. Construction on the $158 million project began in 2007, although the project itself dates back nearly a full decade.

Each school will have its own administrative area, instructional spaces, library, cafeteria, gym, exercise room and meeting rooms. The schools will share an auditorium, base building services and outdoor recreational areas, and the high school will feature a competition gymnasium.

The campus will include space for about 200 District 75 special education students. In addition, about 500 seats have been set aside for students in nearby District 24, which is the city’s most overcrowded education district.

There currently are about 200 construction workers on site daily, with work about two-thirds completed, according to the SCA. While it remains on schedule for its September 2010 opening, there are still some outstanding issues regarding traffic in the area.

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