Public health: toxic dust, noise, street danger

While a formal cost benefit analysis has not yet been conducted, due in major part to the lack of resources available to those disenfranchised populations affected, it is clear that the burden the building project at 711 WEA poses for the local community is heavier than can be fairly endured. The location of this, and future, building projects along the WEA corridor in the 90’s pose devastating costs that run the full range of standard public health risk concerns. It is important to consider that the impact of this proposed construction will have lasting, and even compounding, effects at both the individual and community levels, sustaining well beyond the period of time when construction efforts cease. It is a classic case of how disparities in health are perpetuated, and this time within the most tender of populations.

Many people will be negatively impacted by the building project proposed for 711 WEA, but we must consider in particular the very young and vulnerable population of PS 75 Elementary School and West Side Collaborative Middle School, which houses about 800 children between the ages of 4 and 14 for up to 11 hours a day, 5 days a week. It is important to further clarify that very many of these children already endure the burdens associated with low socioeconomic backgrounds. Thus, the PTA committee at PS 75, in conjunction with local political support, ask the Mayor and the City Council to require the Department of Health to assess construction impacts on the community's health -- and for DOB to require developers to make serious mitigation plans to address the looming health and developmental risks to our student populations.

Particulate matter: 
While asbestos and other harmful particulate matter that will most certainly pollute the immediate surroundings have yet to be formally assessed, the impact of building activities on air quality in the neighbor, and within the schools at 95th and WEA in particular (which already have very poor ventilation systems in place), are undeniable.

Noise pollution: 
Much of the research regarding the impact of even moderate ambient noise levels on local community residents suggest a broad range of detrimental health outcomes. We purport that the impact on young children, particularly within the context of a school setting, will be greater still. First, the constant noise pollution generated by construction activities during school hours will only add to the plethora of mental and emotional stressors impacting our unique student population, of whom fully 65% come from Title 1 eligible families. In terms of physical health, one must also consider how the mental distress caused by constant levels of ambient noise will contribute to the allostatic load levels of these children. Finally, the disruption to educational instruction is undeniable, thus diminishing the overall educational and developmental benefits that each and every child within this environment deserves.

Risk of injury from construction and traffic changes:
The physical restrictions on and risks of physical injury to our children are unacceptable. From increasing the dangers of an already hazardous tangle of highway feeder streets, to the (recently founded) certain risk of falling debris and tools from elevated building spaces, neighborhood school children will be facing hostile territory every time they enter and exit the building.  In fact, all the commitment to and progress of Vision Zero improvements made in the neighborhood in 2014 will be lost.

Another critical factor to consider is what is commonly referred to as the build environment. Proposed construction plans will render outdoor play spaces at PS75 unusable for a period of years, which are critical to kindercare, as well as to the social and physical growth and development of our school children. Construction will also loom over the school's only viable entrance, directing the risk of construction accidents at the school population. (PS75 has already had one such construction accident: a student was struck by a hammer that blew down from a building site next door.)

The gamut of concerns highlighted here most certainly pose significant mental, social, intellectual and physical health burdens for any student population, let alone one that is economically disenfranchised and depends on their local institution of learning for so many of the basic needs that many other communities take for granted.