The ‘Lowedown’ on the Recess Yard

Russell Stern, Editor

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For countless years, the Mott Hall II recess yard has remained in an old, dilapidated state, and seemingly, nothing is ever done to improve it. Some of the problems with the recess yard include corroded basketball backboards, hanging electrical wires, run-down jungle gym equipment, broken benches, pigeon droppings around the big tree and the poison rat boxes near the sandbox. However, very little information has been given to the students about what, if anything, the school administration is doing about this serious problem. Yesterday at lunchtime, I interviewed our school principal, Mr. Lowe, with some questions about whether any action is being taken behind the scenes to renovate the recess yard.

   

INSIDE THE HALLS: What would you say is the biggest problem right now with the recess yard?

LOWE: The degradation of the facilities. The basketball hoops not being up and the area where the kids run around are in states of disrepair, and they just need to be changed.

INSIDE THE HALLS: What do you think are some of the other problems with the recess yard?

LOWE: I hate the tree that is shooting up through the middle and the position of the basketball courts, because what ends up happening is the two basketball games take up way more space than if the courts were placed side by side, and for the tree in the middle, it actually stops the free movement of kids because you have to maneuver around the seating in the middle of the yard. I haven’t looked at the electrical wires as closely as I should, and I will pay

attention to them. I have not noticed the wires to be corroded, however, the apartment does hang them, and we do pay attention to make sure that the apartment building moves them.

INSIDE THE HALLS: Who is responsible for maintaining, repairing or renovating the recess yard? Is it Mott Hall II, the D.O.E. or the New York City Parks Department?

LOWE: That’s actually part of the Parks Department, in conjunction with the D.O.E. We are actually in the process of a grant with P.S. 165 to have the full yard replaced.

INSIDE THE HALLS:  How come the poor condition of the recess yard is never discussed with the students at Mott Hall II?

LOWE: That’s a good question. In our defense, I believe it has been discussed, more so with the parents…. I think that’s actually fair.  We can discuss it with the kids. The main issue is actually funding, and getting the $200,000. Maybe I’ve been naive thinking that that’s only an adult problem, maybe the kids should be involved, too.

INSIDE THE HALLS: Why is it that other schools like P.S. 87 and Delta have renovated their yards, while this school’s yard, being in even worse condition, has not been renovated?

LOWE:  I don’t believe Delta has renovated their yard. They just have a big yard with the soccer field. P.S. 87 got a grant, and we actually just got a grant to redo our room 420 to become a Science Lab, and now that that project is funded, if you look at your parents weekly e-mail, they just got one this morning saying that the renovation will cost $200,000. The playground equipment alone will cost $75,000.

INSIDE THE HALLS: Has any funding been requested by Mott Hall II or P.S. 165 to renovate the yard?

LOWE:  Yes. $185,000. Council Ben Levine’s office.

INSIDE THE HALLS:  Are there any plans at this point for the yard to be renovated?  Because it is both unsafe and unsanitary!

LOWE: That is the main plan, the funding request, and what we want to do is general maintenance all around the yard.

INSIDE THE HALLS: What renovations and improvements will be made? Will they put in new basketball hoops, will they put in a soccer field, will they place new benches, will they re-pave it with something like a running-track and will the trees be removed to create more space for the students?

LOWE:  We want to actually redo the yard completely. We want to cut the middle tree down, re-pave the cement once we get the roots out of the ground, create a running track, move the basketball hoops so that we have side by side hoops and put brand new equipment where the kids play.

   Based on Mr. Lowe’s responses, it appears that a full renovation and replacement of the recess yard is being planned. However, when that is going to happen is far from clear at this point. The safety and well-being of future Mott Hall II students is vital, so it is important that the renovation be done as soon as possible. We here at Inside the Halls are skeptical, but we will see what happens.

The ‘Lowedown’ on the Recess Yard