Forest clearing makes way for new CTE building

By Alberto Gilman
Posted 12/1/21

The Newburgh Enlarged City School District announced on November 1 the beginning of their site work on the career and technical education (CTE) center behind the Newburgh Free Academy Main campus. …

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Forest clearing makes way for new CTE building

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The Newburgh Enlarged City School District announced on November 1 the beginning of their site work on the career and technical education (CTE) center behind the Newburgh Free Academy Main campus. Over the course of last week, the wooded area behind the main campus has been cleared out for construction of these buildings.

The NECSD Capitol Bond website states the new CTE building project will have two floors with 27 CTE classrooms and lab work spaces, up to date technology and the proposed newly constructed section of NFA Main at the corner of West St and Gidney Ave.

Dr. Cassie Sklarz, NECSD Director of Communications said the new CTE Center’s location will be on West Street, northwest of NFA Main. Most of the CTE programs, 21 in total, are offered mainly in the high school buildings for students. More than half of the high school’s population are enrolled in these programs, according to Sklarz.

With this new center, Newburgh students will have the opportunity to be educated on the latest technology and industry practices, develop professional skills and receive preparation for career or collegiate paths, says Sklarz. There will also be a facility for exhibitions and physical education attached to the main structures.

According to Sklarz, this project falls under the NECSD Capital Bond Project, voted back in May 2019 with many in support. The State Education Department, according to Sklarz, has approved each phase of the ongoing project following various inputs and meetings from various stakeholders, families, faculty and community members of the district.

Luis Rodriguez of the Palombo Group informed the board of education during their regular meeting on November 23 that the current site is being maintained, cleared and assessed in preparation for construction.

During the course of the board of education meeting, Roger Ramjug, Director of Management Efficiency/Capital Projects Administrator addressed the board with a response to inquiries made about the tree clearing.

“We met with the leaders of the environmental groups as recently as Friday (November 19),” Ramjug said. “There was concern about the number of trees that were being removed on the site.” Ramjug addressed the board saying that these leaders were invited to the site to review the plan as the district moved forward.

According to Sklarz, the district also acquired the expertise of an arborist and sought feedback from the Newburgh Conservation Advisory Council to incorporate these trees and greenery into the final landscape design.

Sklarz said the New York State Historic Preservation and Parks and Recreation Department reviewed and approved the proposed building application. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation conducted an impact assessment as well for each project as part of the State Environment Quality ReactAct (SEQR).

In the City of Newburgh, urban conservation has become the mission groups such as the Conservation Advisory Council and Outdoor Promise to name a few. Chuck Thomas, Chairman of the City of Newburgh Conservation Advisory Council, was not pleased with the decision to go forward with the clearing. “I was a bit devastated to see what the devastation that happened there suddenly,” Thomas said.

Thomas first learned about the clearing back in the spring and wrote various letters on the movement to the district and submitted one to the Times back in April of this year. “Trees reduce noise level and air pollution, produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide helping to mitigate global warming,” Thomas said. “Children who live on tree lined streets have lower rates of asthma, trees stabilize soil, provide habitat and food for wildlife, trees increase property value by approximately seven percent, trees decrease energy consumption and mitigate temperature extremes.” Trees are beneficial to the environment and the people according to Thomas. With this decision to clear, Thomas believes that there should have been more dialogue on the overall project with residents and city government. With this clearing, the number of environmental parcels reduces in the city.

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