By Lynn Edmonds
After encountering community opposition and pressure from elected officials, the City Department of Education will not move forward with plans to put a high school at 30-48 Linden Place, Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) announced on Friday.
The DOE had been contemplating creating a 450-seat high school on the site, which they own.
Koo said an email from the DOE last week confirmed that the location “will not be a regular high school.”
The department did leave open the possibility of the building being “mixed use,” with one of those uses including instructional purposes for high school students.
The building is currently mixed-use already, with some instructional space for high school students and offices for School District 25.
“We are still finalizing the proposal but it will likely combine office serving administrative and training functions with instructional space,” Toya Holness, Deputy Press Secretary for the DOE, said. “We are continuing to work closely with the CEC, families, community members and elected officials to finalize a plan.”
The cancellation of the planned high school was met with a positive reaction from local leaders, including Koo and State. Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), Chuck Apelian, vice chairman of Community Board 7 and Arlene Fleishman, president of the Mitchell-Linden Civic Association.
“I am pleased the Department of Education has heard the concerns of the community,” Stavisky said. “This space is not suitable to hold hundreds of high school students.”
But the elected officials and community leaders said they wanted to make sure the DOE was not leaving any ‘wiggle room’ with their use of the term ‘regular.’
“While we are grateful that the Department of Education has listened to reason and confirmed that Linden Place will not be a ‘regular high school,’ I am not so sure this area would be appropriate for an irregular high school either,” Koo said. “We must remain vigilant to ensure that any future use of this location is appropriate for our community, especially with regards to the number or students it will serve.”
Koo added that future plans for the site should take into account how the potential sale of the neighboring Whitestone Bowling Alley might affect the composition of the neighborhood.
The Linden Place spot, within District 25, was one of several potential school sites in Northeast Queens that had local residents up in arms over fears of congestion and other issues. Other locations that the SCA scrapped were a site at 150-33 6th Ave in Whitestone and the former Bayside Jewish Center, most recently.
Opponents of the Linden Place site said it was inappropriate because the surrounding roads were busy and narrow. They also said that the area was oversaturated with other businesses, including nursery schools, senior centers, a shopping center, bowling alley, and another public school.
Plans are moving forward with another controversial site, the Keil Bros. plant nursery, in Bayside.
School districts 24, 25 and 26 in Queens are three of the four most overcrowded in the City, The City’s Independent Budget Office reported in March. The DOE has funding to build an additional 8,400 high school seats in Queens.
Reach Lynn Edmonds at (718) 357-7400 x127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Ellinoamerikana