Buckley School to Expand

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The UES private school passed the community board's scrutiny for an expansion of its East 73rd Street campus

The Buckley School, an all-boys private school on East 73rd Street, recently purchased two landmarked townhouses across the street, 112-114 East 73rd Street, and is looking to expand its classroom space. Community Board 8 had mixed responses to the proposal, but eventually approved all parts of the proposed changes to the building, including the plans to alter the exterior front elevation at the ground level to connect the two buildings, place mechanical equipment on the roof, which would add 8-10 feet onto the roof, and add a rear yard extension for a school garden.

But several nearby neighbors expressed concerns over the proposal, saying that the school expansion would create pedestrian and traffic congestion, as well as block light for nearby neighbors. Other neighbors also expressed concern that the expansion would minimize parking spots on the block.

"We have a vested interest in the community," said Greg O'Melia, the headmaster at Buckley School, at the meeting. "The school has a history of being a good neighbor and we are confident that it will remain that way."

The blueprints for the plans show the five-story townhouse with bulkhead and mechanical equipment on top, and verify that the added rooftop extensions will not be visible from the street level.

Jennifer Sage, the architect for the Buckley School expansion at Sage and Coombe architects, also said that they are taking into consideration the community concerns, and that they have determined, through testing that the new expansion will not block any sunlight, and will not be a very noticeable intrusion on the neighborhood.

As for noise and traffic concerns, Susan Oliverion, an Upper East Side community member and parent at Buckley School, said that she understands the community concerns, but that the surrounding neighborhood belongs to everyone, including flourishing schools and schoolchildren.

"We are not just a city of retirees who want it to be all peace and quiet," said Oliverion. "But we are not trying to drive out families and neighbors. We've always been respectful of the community."

She explained that the school is only comprised of 300-something young boys, so it cannot add a significant amount of traffic congestion. In addition, she said, the expansion is necessary for a school that has outgrown its current quarters. She said that her son, who is an eighth grader at Buckley, has to go to school in very cramped classrooms, and that she would welcome the expansion.

At first, Community Board 8 put up a vote to disapprove the part of the plan that would add the backyard extension, but the vote failed to pass, and the board put up a substitute measure to approve the backyard extension.

The plan will have to pass the Landmarks Commission before it would be able to move forward.

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