City: No ‘Play Street’ for Peck Slip

File Photo by Sue Malesevic The city won't let the Peck Slip School close the street for recess space because a parking lot won't sign off on the plan.
File Photo by Sue Malesevic
The city won’t let the Peck Slip School close the street for recess space because a parking lot won’t sign off on the plan.


It’s the only parking lot in New York determined to keep kids off the street and in the classroom.

LAZ Parking, across the street from the Peck Slip School, is blocking the elementary school’s efforts to close a namesake street to give aged students greater opportunity to play outdoors.

The school’s request to close off Peck Slip during school hours as a “Play Street” was rejected by the Department of Transportation because the parking lot, which has an entrance on the street, won’t sign off on the plan, a DOT spokesman confirmed.

As a result, Peck Slip students can only enjoy the school’s rooftop play space every few days, leaving kids stuck indoors all day for most of the week, according to the school’s principal.

“It means that third- and fourth-grade students and kindergarten students take turns being in the gym for recess instead of going outside,” said Principal Maggie Siena told Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee at its last meeting. “It’s not great.”

The street outside the Peck Slip School is already closed briefly between Pearl and Water Sts., in the morning and afternoon — a concession LAZ Parking has endured because the School Construction Authority decided not to create a plaza for drop offs and pick ups in front of the school.

But the request to close the street for the whole school day was apparently too much for the parking lot to accept, and LAZ Parking’s corporate office has refused to communicate with the school, according to Siena.

“We’re at a bit of a standstill,” she said.

Meanwhile, CB1 has received a letter from attorney Ross Moskowitz purporting to represent a “neighbor of the Peck Slip School” — which board members believe to be LAZ Parking — urging the board to deny the school’s request, citing traffic and safety concerns the closure would cause.

Moskowitz did not return calls for comment, and LAZ Parking director of operations Omar Perera, when reached by phone, declined to comment for this story.

The lack of space at the Peck Slip School will only get worse, since the school, with 387 students currently enrolled, is still only at just over half its planned capacity, and is expected to grow over the next few years to 712 students as a fifth-grade class is added, and existing grades are expanded, according to a DOE spokeswoman.

Despite LAZ Parking’s apparent refusal to acquiesce to the play street, community leaders put more of the blame for the Peck Slip students’ current play plight on the Department of Education and the SCA, according to the chair of the CB1 Youth and Education Committee.

“When planning schools, these kind of things need to be a consideration in the design phase,” said Tricia Joyce. “If they can’t provide enough plaza space for children to recreate then that’s the responsibility of the School Construction Authority, and to expect our principals to go door to door and interview neighbors on the impact of closing the street is unfair.”

The DOE refused to comment when asked whether efforts to close Peck Slip reflect a failure on the city’s part in designing the school, with a spokeswoman saying only, “We strive to design new schools that have adequate space for recreational activities.”

Locals now hope that the DOE and SCA will take the lessons learned from Peck Slip and apply them the new Trinity Place School, which is currently in the design phase, according to Joyce.

“I think a big thing is that the plaza space is a no-brainer, they should have built I that way to begin with,” she said. “Recreation is not an afterthought.”