Land For New Playground Sits Vacant As Yonkers Schoolchildren Play On Asphalt Patches

School District Had Been Focusing Instead On Funds For New Carpet At HQ

YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A solution has been offered for a Yonkers elementary school that lacks a proper playground for recess, but nothing has happened.

As CBS2’s Lou Young reported, recess time at Enrico Fermi Elementary School in Yonkers involves kids blowing off steam on a couple of fenced-in asphalt patches barely larger than a tennis court. Meanwhile, a piece of property donated by the city to the school district for a playground two years ago sits vacant across the street.

The principal of the school said he could use it.

“We have over a thousand children here,” said principal Mark Antenano. “That would give children the opportunity to play soccer, basketball, even have a jungle gym over there.”

School board trustees said the project has fallen through the cracks, while the district contemplates budget items like new carpeting at Yonkers Board of Education headquarters.

“Let’s get the playground done for the kids before we spend any money on new floors for the administrators,” said Yonkers school trustee James Cavanaugh.

The cost of both carpet and playground is about $100,000. The new school superintendent in Yonkers showed CBS2 some of the carpeting he would like to replace, and said some of the stains cannot be cleaned.

“The carpet is an essential part of all of the work we’re going to be doing,” said Yonkers School Supt. Dr. Edwin Quezada.

But the optics are admittedly not good, and Quezada said he is ready to let the 7-year-old carpeting sit a couple more semesters if need be.

“The playground will happen and eventually, the trustees will all realize this is part of a long-term project,” Quezada said.

CBS2’s Young put the question to Quezada directly – if the board had to choose between the playground and the carpeting, which one would win out?

“We’ll do the playground for our children,” Quezada said.

Now that it is back on everyone’s radar, the new playground at Enrico Fermi School could be open in the spring.

The Yonkers school system has a budget of just under $500 million. The administration is looking for donors to pay for the playground so they can install the carpet as well.

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