BY DOMENICK RAFTER
Editor in Chief
The plans to build a high school on the site of the Bayside Jewish Center may not go any smoother than previous proposals for schools in Northeast Queens.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) came out in opposition to a proposal from the Schools Construction Authority, and planned a rally to be held Thursday outside the synagogue at 203-05 32 Ave. that closed in February.
In a statement, Avella said the site was not appropriate for a high school and took a subtle shot at unnamed “City Council members” for supporting the project. Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) announced the proposal earlier this month.
“Despite misguided attempts by the City Council members to falsely show that the neighborhood supports the project, the residents of Bayside are once again standing in opposition to SCA’s plans,” Avella said in a prepared statement. “To think that this site can support another high school in the area is not only inaccurate, but it shows another extremely poor decision by the SCA that was once again made without asking the community what It wants. The neighborhood has had enough of SCA’s forceful behavior and we are prepared to fight this proposal.”
In response to Avella’s comment, Vallone noted he wasn’t “supportive” of the project either, but “cautiously optimistic,” the site could handle a high school. He noted the plans are in the early stages, and an environmental review would have to be undertaken before shovels hit the ground.
“There’s a degree of cautious optimism,” he explained. “But you got to weight it with, is this the best site?”
Avella is no stranger to fighting plans by the SCA. As a councilman, he opposed a planned high school at the site now occupied by Star Nissan in Auburndale, and fought a recent proposal to build a high school in Whitestone because of lack of infrastructure in the area. Vallone also opposed that plan.
In 2013, Avella fought a proposed elementary school at the site of the former Kiel Brothers Garden Center on 48th Avenue. Though the school plans were put on the hold, the a lame duck City Council approved of them in November, 2013.
Northeast Queens has been in need of a new high school for some time.
The SCA estimates Districts 25 and 26, both of which cover Northeast Queens and includes Flushing and Bayside, are in need of 3,400 high school seats. Vallone noted that Bayside High School is operating at 180 percent capacity.
The councilman suggested vacant land near 20th Avenue and The New York Times printing facility, both in College Point, for a potential high school, noting that the wetlands in that area, especially near the former Flushing Airport, would supplement a curriculum consisting of environmental or Marine biology study.