AIRMONT – Details about the expansion of a religious school continue to trickle out as its owners hope to begin construction later this year.
The Central United Talmudical Academy of Monsey has submitted new information about its proposal to construct a separate boys and girls school at the former Camp Regesh property at 236 Cherry Lane. The project has been estimated to cost approximately $20 million.
Among the new details is a plan to construct a second driveway to access the property, according to village documents. The school is expected to have 2,000 students.
School buses currently access the 22-acre property, where Central UTA now runs its girls school, through a single driveway on the two-lane road. Its boys school is operating elsewhere.
Steven Barshov, an attorney for the school, said adding a driveway typically helps to improve circulation into and out of the property, eliminate congestion, and alleviate safety issues.
Barshov added that the proposal remains in an “informational stage.”
In communications with the village filed in March, the school’s engineering firm said that ongoing discussions were to “better develop the layout and identify the required permitting agencies involved before engaging in more detailed engineering.”
Nonetheless, the school anticipates starting construction on the first of two phases later this year, according to documents filed with the village.
The developer is expected to present its unofficial plan to the Airmont Planning Board on May 25. Public comment will not be allowed because it will be a preliminary presentation.
The proposal to expand the religious school has roiled residents in the residential neighborhood.
“It wouldn’t work,” said resident Adam Haimowitz said, who lives across the street from Central UTA.
On a recent weekday morning, Haimowitz, 35, was removing the roof of his Jeep Wrangler in his driveway, which nearly faces Central UTA’s driveway. His home also is adjacent to Cherry Lane Elementary School.
Haimowitz said narrow roads and the neighborhood’s residential character cannot sustain an influx of thousands of students and the accompanying buses.
“This road is not big enough for it. There’s too much traffic. There are so many accidents on this road to begin with,” he added.
Isaac Gruber, a representative of the school, said the expansion was necessary to sustain the school’s rapidly growing population.
The school currently has approximately 800 students, which is expected to swell to 2,000 by 2020.
“The school wants to be able to be ahead of the curve instead of behind the curve,” Gruber said.
Before Central UTA purchased the property in August 2016, a camp and school were run there for more than a decade.
The proposal may require variances and approvals to construct the buildings because the property is located in a residential district, according to village documents.
The school is requesting to build only 170 parking spaces out of the 487 required, according to village documents. The school is requesting to land bank the rest, which would give it the option of adding the parking spaces later.
There are currently two one-story buildings on the property. There are also multiple modular units set up, in addition to playgrounds and basketball courts.
The school’s two-phase preliminary plan includes:
- Two three-story buildings, each containing 73,000 square feet.
- Construction of the first building, which will contain the boys school, is expected to begin later this year.
- Construction of the second building, which will house the girls school, will begin when the first building is complete.
- The second building is expected to be completed by 2022.
- The school is expected to house 2,000 students.
- Students will be in pre-school through ninth grade and younger than 16 years old.
- The school will run year round.
- Approximately 80 buses would transport students to and from the property during daily operational hours, according to previous estimates.