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MAKING A STINK; SCHOOL HITS HORSE BARN NEXT DOOR
MARIANNE GARVEY. New York Post. New York, N.Y.: Jan 9, 2005.

Whoa, what's that smell?

Students at a Hell's Kitchen school say it's horse manure from the stable that moved in next door, and that it's making them sick.

And while parents and staffers at PS 51 on West 45th Street want the noxious barn moved or shut down, the landlord - the city of New York - says neigh.

Parents and school officials claim airborne particles emitted from Shamrock Stables - home to 30 Central Park carriage horses - get into classroom vents, causing rashes and worsening asthma symptoms.

"Kids come in here with asthma, hay fever, unexplained rashes and hives and they have yet to find the stable a new home," said disgusted school nurse Sharon Close. "For the past few years, I've seen trends like allergic conjunctivitis happening to the kids, and it's definitely from next door.

"Tiny manure particles and irritants become airborne and shoot through the air conditioners in the classrooms. The kids are breathing that in."

The stable moved next door to the 350-student elementary school in December 2000, into a building once used by the FDNY for its inspection unit and storage. The move was supposed to be temporary - lasting only six months - while construction was being completed on the FDR Drive near 61st Street, a project that displaced the stable's home of 30 years.

But after three years, the stable is still stinking up PS 51.

"The city has no plans to move the stable anywhere else at this time," said Jennifer Blum, a spokeswoman for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

Blum said the carriage horses are important to the city's tourism industry and the city wants to ensure they have a home.

Shamrock Stables, whose owners refused to comment for this story, have made efforts to keep the area clean, conceded PS 51 custodian Jim Carroll. They keep the stable doors closed most of the day, installed an exhaust system and power-wash the sidewalks in front of stable and school daily.

But complaints persist. "The lunchroom is in the front entrance of the building, so that's where it's the worst and kids and teachers are eating lunch," Carroll said.

So far, the city has done little more than outline some improvements the stable should institute. "The Department of Citywide Administrative Services directed the stables to work cooperatively with its neighbor to address those concerns," said spokeswoman Blum.

Department of Education spokeswoman Kelly Devers said the agency is aware of the problem and is working with DCAS to keep tabs on the stable's cleanliness.
 

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