Community Leaders Oppose Proposed School

BY JOE MARVILLI
Staff Writer

Dozens of community leaders came together in Whitestone to fight against a possible public high school.
The proposed school on 150th Street near 5th Avenue drew about 150 people who shouted and protested against the location on Oct. 2. The School Construction Authority had recently surveyed the old Whitestone Jewels LLC site,
looking to build a school in the area.

Community leaders rallied outside a lot at 150th Street near 5th Avenue, protesting the SCA’s surveying of the site as a location for a school.  Photo by Joe Marvilli

Community leaders rallied outside a lot at 150th Street near 5th Avenue, protesting the SCA’s surveying of the site as a location for a school. Photo by Joe Marvilli

The SCA did not tell any members of the neighborhood they were looking into the site for a school. It was only because community leaders witnessed the surveying that they found out and organized the rally.
While the community leaders who spoke knew there was a need for a new high school in the 26th School District, they said the site was inappropriate and the SCA was doing what it wanted with no regards for the community.

The area that is being proposed by the SCA has extremely limited public transportation options, a lack of sidewalks
and is at the end of a police precinct. Community leaders also said a school would create an enormous amount of
traffic and would remove many parking spots.

At the moment, the site is a grassy field closed to the public and waiting for development.

“This is absolutely insane. How can you turn a beautiful, wonderful property into a public high school? It doesn’t
make sense to me,” Community Board 7 member Kevin Shields said.

Members of the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association, CB7, the Waterside Estates at Cresthaven Homeowners Association and more were joined by City Council District 19 candidates Paul Vallone and Dennis Saffran at the rally.

Kim Cody, president of the GWTCA, said he spoke to a SCA surveyor and asked him what other sites were being looked at. The surveyor said none.

“They aren’t looking anywhere else,” Cody said. “We have to show the City we’re not something they’re just going to
walk over. It’s not the right thing to do.”

“When developers want to build something, you know what they do in the beginning?” Chuck Apelian of CB7 said.

“They come in and they come to the board and say ‘what do you think?’ Why can’t the City of New York do the same
thing?”

“We want the City to talk to us and not just do it in a vacuum and not just say we’re coming here. It should be about
what all of us think together,” Debra Markell, president of Cresthaven Homeowners Association, said.

Both Vallone and Saffran agreed the SCA needs to change the way it does business.

“You did not include us. The process is wrong. That’s why we’re here,” Vallone said. “If you’re going to talk about a
school in the heart of Whitestone, why not talk to the heart of Whitestone?”

“While we absolutely need schools, the City has got to consider the effect on neighborhoods. It just isn’t the right
kind of location,” Saffran said. “They should certainly be required to go through the same approval process as any
developer.”

Community leaders rallied at the site on Oct. 5 again, the second of many they plan to hold. A representative from the SCA said that the protests are premature.

“As we do throughout the City, we always take preliminary surveys of areas where we have identified a need for new school construction,” Marge Feinberg of the SCA said. “This is just one area in the City we are surveying. We go through a public process before there is any approval on a particular site.”

Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, jmarvilli@queenstribune.com, or @Joey788.