TUCKAHOE, N.Y. – After years of wrangling, planning and discussion, the Immaculate Conception School in Tuckahoe is ready to break ground on its long-awaited parish gymnasium on Thursday.
The new state-of-the-art gym will be used by more than 1,000 children who either attend school or religion classes at Immaculate Conception. The school is hosting a groundbreaking ceremony at 10:30 a.m. on June 14 on the school grounds, where students will don faux-construction helmets and miniature shovels as they kick-off the project.
Maureen J. Harten, the school’s principal, said that the gym would open up a wealth of opportunities for the community.
“There have been attempts in the past to build a gym, but our pastor really got the ball rolling again,” she said, referring to Rev. Eric Raaser. “It’s been a long time coming and a lot of work. I’m glad we finally have all the approvals from the town and the go-ahead to start construction.”
Construction is set to begin as soon as the school shuts down for summer vacation on June 20 and is expected to last roughly a year. Harten said there should be very little noise impact on the community and none on the school – as most of the heavy lifting is being done during the summer months.
“We’re waiting until school ends so it won’t be too much of a distraction. We’ve lived through emergency roof repairs, so we can handle this,” she said. “The loud noises will mostly be during the summer when they first begin. Once school starts back up, I’m sure we will have to work around a few things, but there shouldn’t be a big impact” on the community due to the construction, she said.
Once completed, the brand new handicap-accessible gym will serve a variety of purposes. Parish basketball teams will no longer have to travel off school grounds for practices and home games, and students will have a place for physical education classes. Children won’t have to worry about interrupting mass, special events or the various gatherings and meetings that take place in the church.
Harten said that the gym will also save parents’ money, because they won’t have to pay higher participation fees to rent off-site facilities for their games and events.
There are a lot of activities that students cannot participate in because of the size of the current facility, she said. “We can have more after school programs and can run intramural teams and clubs that require a gym. We haven’t been able to do that because we didn’t have the space.”
The new parish gymnasium won’t only be used for sports – it will also benefit the arts and the community. The Immaculate Conception School will now have a place to hold assemblies and the gym will feature a stage that will be used for the school’s drama production.