By Joe Marvilli
Elected officials, civic leaders and homeowners came together across the street from a proposed school site on a busy avenue to say loud and clear, do not put it here.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Hillcrest) held a press conference on July 19 to protest a proposed new school on the Keil Brothers property, found at 48th Avenue between 210th Street and 211th Street. The property is being sold to the School Construction Authority, which wants to build a new school at the location.
Those who spoke said the site is a poor choice for a new school, mentioning traffic problems, parking problems and the school’s encroachment into residential backyards.
According to Avella, the City Council Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses was originally scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposal on July 22 in an attempt to get a final supporting vote on July 24. Due to mounting pressure from the community, the Dept. of Education has agreed to push back the hearing and meet with the elected officials to discuss the situation in August.
While the DOE is willing to meet with Avella, Rozic, Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) and a Bayside Hills Civic representative, the State Senator said they are refusing to meet with a Community Board 11 member. This is due to the aggressive, antagonistic meeting between the CB and the SCA on May 6 that discussed the site in question.
According to the SCA reps, some members of the public made threats against them after the meeting concluded. CB 11 chair Jerry Iannece responded in a letter to Walcott that the SCA presentation was “condescending and at times, intimidating.”
Avella said that even if someone did threaten the SCA members, it should not discount the input of the entire community.
“I think it’s ridiculous. The Community Board is part of the land use process,” he said. “Whether you like it or not, they have to get involved. You can’t hold an entire community at fault.”
At the conference, Avella said that the officials are going to insist that CB 11 be involved in the yet-to-be-scheduled meeting with the DOE. He also plans to push for a better site option that would not harm the surrounding area as much.
“They’re going to build a school next to the backyards of residential homes? Unheard of,” Avella said. “For the property owners who have made this community their home, it’s an absurdity.”
“We’re here loud and clear that for once, the City cannot just roll over our community in Eastern Queens,” Rozic added.
While many in the community understood the need for another school, they felt the location would be irresponsible, given the busyness of 48th Avenue.
“We know this is a thriving, developing community, but this is not the appropriate place for this,” Toby Pagano, a local homeowner, said. “You’re going to have parents driving little children with no place to park, dealing with the buses. The kids are really going to be the victims here as much as the homeowners.”
Henry Euler, the first Vice President of the Auburndale Improvement Association, said the DOE should put PS 130 back into Education District 26, where the school is geographically located. The school is used by District 25.
“It’s time that it’s returned to our community. I think that would take the onus off the schools in this year,” he said. “There are other sites here that are more appropriate for a new school.”
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Joey788.