Elected officials, community leaders, parents, teachers and students from PS 85 in Astoria rallied together to demand the MTA and Department of Education address noise problems created by passing trains.
Classes have been forced to rely on hand signals that stops the class each time a train passes by for 30 to 45 seconds. The trains, operating on an elevated line along 31st Street, pass every two minutes during rush hour and every five minutes the rest of the day.
“Each time a student puts two fingers in the air and a lesson is on hold, it represents the city’s failure to provide an adequate learning environment for these children,” state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “The MTA and the DOE need to do everything in their power to reduce noise for our students and they need to do so immediately.”
The rally was repeatedly interrupted by more than 15 passing trains that were met with boos and hisses by the students in attendance, demonstrating the difficulties faced by children and teachers every day at the school.
“The students of PS 85, like all young leaders, deserve a quiet school environment where they can focus,” Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) said. “The fact that this problem has been harming students’ learning for three decades without being addressed by the DOE or the MTA is mind-boggling. Immediate action must be taken to implement solutions which will reduce these noise levels; students and teachers should never be forced to ‘get used to’ a chronic issue which detracts from the learning process.”
Simotas and Gianaris wrote a letter to the DOE and MTA calling for noise abatement ideas such as soundproofing windows, addition of acoustic sound-absorbing tiles, installing rubber wheels on the trains, cushioning the rails with rubber pads and erecting a sound barrier between the platform and PS 85.
“Our children come to school prepared to learn,” Parents Association President Evie Hantzopoulos said. “They take their education seriously, and the MTA and DOE need to as well. We don’t want to stop the trains we just want to significantly decrease the noise. This is not only an educational issue. It is a public health, environmental justice and children’s rights issue as well.”
Councilman-Elect Costa Constantinides commended Hantzopoulous and other parents for their hard work on the issue.
“The noise outside PS 85 is unfair to our children and does not supply them with a conducive learning environment,” he said. “Schooltime should be quiet-time for our students.
“I join with our strong PS 85 advocates and my colleagues in government to call upon the MTA and the Department of Education to find solutioms to remediate noise that hinders our students here at this school.”