By Sarah Coursey, Editor
RIO DE JANEIRO – When a mansion in Alto Leblon on the street Rua Timóteo da Costa was approved as the future site of a new school, residents decided to take action. A prominent neighborhood group has taken up a petition, claiming that the school will increase traffic in the area, a significant factor in the evaluation of house prices.
Zona Sul is already famous for its traffic congestion, and the über-chic, hillside corner of Leblon referred to as Alto ( High) Leblon is considered an oasis from the hustle and bustle of its major commercial streets. There is a bus for residents who want to come down to the neighborhood’s main street Avenida Ataulfa de Paiva, and the dividing line for the village-within-a-city is traditionally considered the canal along Avenida Visconde de Albuquerque.
The move to greenlight the building’s status came from the Departamento de Licenciamento e Fiscalização da 6ª Região Administrativa, Lagoa (The Department of Licensing and Fiscalization of the Sixth Administrative Region, Lagoa). It is now being met with opposition from none other than Alto Leblon’s Evelyn Rosenzweig, president of the prestigious Comunidade do Alto Leblon (Community of Alto Leblon).
Rosenzweig has said that she will hand the petition in person to Rio City Mayor Eduardo Paes this month, requesting a reversal in the approval ruling. The main argument is the impact on congestion, as the road of the proposed school already runs in two directions and has traffic-calming devices that separate the opposing lanes.
In an interview with O Globo newspaper, Bernardo Franceschin, retired policeman, security consultant and Alto Leblon resident since 1981, commented,” The street is already overtrafficked. Aside from the volume of cars, the minibus passes on a regular basis with a line contracted by the residents themselves. Those with apartments facing the street have devalued properties due to the traffic noise. Imagine, now, with cars entering and exiting a school. It is completely nonsensical.”
The school that would be moved to 149 Rua Timóteo da Costa, a private institution called Espaço Educação (Education Space), has students between one and a half years of age up to five years old. For the past 27 years, it has been located on Rua Almirante Guilhem in Baixo (or Lower) Leblon, and must now move due to the sale of the building to a construction company.