By Jon Cronin
A textile factory owner in Elmhurst was approached by the School Construction Authority in the spring of 2014 to investigate the quality of land under his 50,000 square foot warehouse for a potential new school site, only to be ignored later on.
The warehouse and textile factory owner, Michael Cronin, who is actively looking to sell his property, said the SCA conducted a phase one and phase two environmental study on his land where a large tank-like drill barely made it into the bay of his loading dock.
The SCA environmental study crew then pulled three foot samples approximately four inches in diameter as they drilled 49 feet down in nearly a dozen places inside the factory. They also drilled in few places in his 8,000 square foot parking lot in the rear of the building and in front his building. Cronin said the crew then needed to get a portable drill into his office area, which took up the entire width of the hallway and took several hours to appropriately maneuver.
Cronin said this all happened over two to three months in the spring of 2014. He added that the project manager at SCA then transferred to another city job and his replacement has not returned calls since March.
“It just didn’t make sense to me,” Cronin said. When he was initially approached he was happy to learn that his property would go to a cause that would aid the community. He reported hearing last year of District 24, “They’re in a crisis situation,” and “We need property!”
Cronin said after the two phases of environmental study came back as clean, he was given plans for a three floor primary and intermediate school with a full cellar. He said the plans state the school would have held 645 students.
Cronin believes the initial hesitance may have come from his factory being neighbors with the Hong Kong Supermarket, which had delivery trucks in and out of the property all day. The SCA expressed that may not be a good environment for the children.
The supermarket was torn down this past August. In its place are two new apartment complexes, one with 147 apartments and the other with approximately 90. He points out that these apartments will potentially be filled with families that are in need of schools.
“Real estate companies know that a phase one and phase two have been done,” he said, which makes his property more attractive to potential buyers. Still, he insists, he would rather sell to the SCA because it would work better financially for him and serve the community.
District 24 Community Education Council President Nick Comaianni wasn’t aware of the SCA looking at the site, and noted he wouldn’t be, stating, “I wouldn’t be surprised if they look at a lot of sites.”
A spokesperson for the City Department of Education said he could not comment on the situation.
Cronin professes with a property as large as his and soil clean underneath, “I’m the only show in school District 24.”
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin