If you ever want to figure out how to get the construction noise in your neighborhood reduced, look around to see if there's a school in the vicinity with a motived PTA. Parents at P.S. 234 in Tribeca are the subject of a NY Times article that highlights how parents were able to convince developers to meet their demands to make sure their kids' reading, writing and 'rithmetic wouldn't be unduly disturbed. They got the change the 200 Chambers Street (Sir Norman Foster!) developer to change the kind of hammers they would use at the construction site (from "pile-driving hammers" to "vibrating hammers"), which then empowered the PTA get builders at 270 Greenwich to pay $2 million for noise abatement of construction at that site - including a 20 foot sound wall. One of the parents behind the effort explains, "The competition for prime middle schools in the city is very, very intense. It's a very high-pressure situation that didn't need pile driving as a soundtrack." Yes - those kindergarten records totally matter. And let's not get started on Mayor Bloomberg's third and fifth grade social promotion tests.
The article is not just about school children quality of life, it's about class:
The parents immediately created a task force whose success demonstrates the wide disparities that can exist in the nation's largest school system, mirroring socioeconomic gaps in the city. While some parents plead for basic necessities in their schools, others, like those at P.S. 234, have the means to hire an acoustical engineering firm to determine the ideal noise level of a construction site near a school.
What Gothamist finds ironic is that P.S. 234 is used by real estate agents as a reason to move downtown, hence the drive to build apartments to attract those rich, bigger families who want their kids to get a public school education at one of the top public schools in the city but don't want to pay for private school. Here's hoping the P.S. 234 PTA writes a play book to send schools around the city.