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PS 166 Playstreet Gets Community Board Approval

PS 166 students at CB1

PS 166 students at CB1

Oct. 21, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge

Parents and educators seeking to partially close 34th Street for PS 166 student use have gotten an important green light.

As the Astoria Post reported on Tuesday, the school community wants to create a “school playstreet” next to PS 166, on 34th Street between 34th Avenue and 35th Avenue.

The city’s playstreet initiative allows schools to regularly close roads to traffic for student recreation. The application process requires approval from the local community board and NYPD precinct.

PS 166 parents are applying for a playstreet from 10:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. daily. A group of families and educators visited Community Board 1 on Tuesday to ask for their formal support.

The school has a small outdoor recess space that can accommodate about 100 of its 1,180 students at a time. Therefore, classes trade off outdoor recess every other day, so each student gets recess at most three times per week, according to Principal Jessica Geller.

Currently, the school manages the limited outdoor space by incorporating physical activity into the regular school day, such as a classroom movement activity set to “Let’s Go Mets!,” according to the School Leadership Team.

However, for parents, outdoor free-play is irreplaceable.

“Without real play during the school day, the impact is felt long after the final bell rings,” PS 166 PTA President Fred McConnell said. “We feel it when we try to get them to sit still for just a few minutes to wrap up their math problems, read a book or even to eat their dinner.”

Board members raised concerns about PS 166’s proximity to Kaufman Astoria Studios, which closes 36th Street to traffic, as well as the Astoria Dialysis Center, which has a parking lot entrance on 34th Street across from the school.

Social worker Vincent Joseph said the dialysis center would have “no problem” with the playstreet, except for the fact that 34th Street is the only lot entrance available to emergency vehicles, as well as to doctors who visit sporadically throughout the day.

Parent Dominic Stiller explained a possible system to CB 1 whereby chaperones would gather students onto the sidewalk if any residents, dialysis center vehicles or emergency vehicles needed to exit during playstreet hours. He anticipated this would be infrequent.

Stiller could not be reached for follow-ups to address Joseph’s specific concern.

Ultimately, CB 1 voted overwhelmingly in favor of the playstreet.

PS 166 must submit their application to the Department of Transportation by Nov. 1.

Reach reporter Jackie Strawbridge at

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Click for Comments 

What a great idea! We should just close every street in Astoria and NYC that has a public or private school on it and does not have enough outdoor space to accommodate more than 100 students at one time. Let us stopt parking and block traffic and emergency vehicles so children can either congregate on the street or play tag and doge-ball.


The article states that “the school has a small outdoor recess space that can accommodate about 100 of its 1,180 students at a time”. So how many students are they trying to accommodate on the street at one time? a quarter of them? half? all of them? One would logically think that 100 students at a time is enough to supervise!


I’m so confused..I am all for teaching children life long healthy habits but what kind of meaningful recess activities will be taking place on the street? Having the children run up and down the street? Most school playgrounds are enclosed with few entrances. I hope they will provide extra staff and security. What about parked cars? What about the homes on that block? Sounds like a ploy to monitor larger groups of children while teachers are at lunch or on a prep break.

We played

Tag and dodgeball and jump rope. Maybe that’s not meaningful activities but its recess not rocket science. As far as the cars, it will probably be designated a no parking zone during school days. I can’t speak for the homeowners on that block but the ones on the block of my school never seemed to mind.


They are just calling it a “school play-street” but in all honesty they are not trying to promote fitness or health education they are just trying to find a place where they can fit many students at one time with the minimal amount of adult supervision and with hardly any adult guided gross motor activities. I would urge all parents to contact a lawyer in case your child comes home hurt especially from being out in the street off school premises under the direction of a school. I know a lot about school safety and responsibilities and you would have a case 🙂


This is great for kids , especially the ones that may end up homeless living on the streets. They’ll already be used to the idea.

Who's the most...

Bitterest person on the comment board, bitterest person on the comment board, why I think it’s Mary. Geez lady, lighten up.

The school

I went to as a kid did this and still do. If this means that kids will have outdoor play everyday than it’s worth figuring out. People still move the barricades to drive down but a teacher rang the bell, we got on the sidewalk and waited for the car to drive down. She would ring the bell and we went back to playing. It can work.


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