Difficulty Setting Private File Path in settings.php

I will say now that I’m not a Drupal pro, but I can usually hold my own.  This one has me stumped.

My private files directory is at sites/default/files/private and is called out as such in settings.php:

# $settings[‘file_private_path’] = ‘sites/default/files/private’;

But of course, that isn’t recognized on my site even after clearing the cache.  I suspect that the # is the issue as it’s basically commenting out the process of setting the path.  I tried removing the #, uploading settings.php to the server, and then my site crashes (it returns the “This site has experienced a problem…” error).  I cannot access update.php or clear the cache in this state.  Undoing the change in settings.php, uploading it, and then running update.php brings the site back.

So, I’m at a loss.  The # causes my path to be ignored and removing it causes my site to break.  Does anyone have any advice?

Thanks in advance!

Drupal version: 

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