Thursday, January 8, 2009

Revised Maspeth School Plans to be Unveiled

Update on Proposal at Next Week's CB 5 Meeting

By Conor Greene

The School Construction Authority is expected to provide residents and community leaders with a look at its revised plans for a school being proposed for Maspeth at next week’s Community Board 5 meeting.

The SCA is also expected to give updates on several other construction projects going on elsewhere in the area at the meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, January 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Christ the King High School in Middle Village. Details will be provided regarding additions underway at PS 49 and PS 113 and a new building going up next to PS 128, according to CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano.

The city initially proposed building a 1,650-seat school at the site of the former Restaurant Depot warehouse at 74th Street and 57th Avenue to serve students in grades 6-12. The plan was met with opposition from residents who say the area, which already has two schools, is oversaturated with schoolchildren. While many board members concede the area needs a high school, CB 5 overwhelmingly rejected the plan in May.

At the November Community Education Council 24 meeting, Lorraine Grillo, executive director and chief of staff of the SCA said that the project has been scaled back due to “concerns we heard voiced very loudly from the community board.” It now calls for a 1,000-seat building that the SCA hopes is “both useful for the district and palatable for the community,” said Grillo.

The Department of Education did not provide information about the new proposal by deadline. However, Giordano said that according to his most recent information, the new plan calls for either one 1,000-seat building or two 500-seat buildings, both of which would only serve high school students.

“I don’t think they plan to put an intermediate school there,” said Giordano. “I think there was some concern [from board members] about having sixth and seventh graders in the same facility as juniors and seniors in high school.”

Giordano said that most of the concerns centered on the amount of children pouring onto neighborhood streets, especially after dismissal time, and increased traffic in the already congested area. “I think it’s going to be a problem because it is going to add congestion to the area,” he said. “The upside of it is that it would provide high school opportunities in a much less crowded setting.”

The board has advised the SCA to look at alternate sites, including the former St. Saviour’s property on Rust Street in West Maspeth, said Giordano.

In addition, many board members have suggested that they would support the project if the city zones the new school to ensure that it primarily serves children from the neighborhood.“If the school is not a specialized high school, I would think logically that a good measure of zoning is going to apply,” said Giordano.However, the SCA has said that decisions over zoning are made by the city DOE, which has refused to make any guarantees to the community about the matter.

In other school construction news, the SCA is expected to update the board on the three other projects underway in the district. Giordano noted that all three schools currently only serve students up to fifth grade, but will be expanded through eighth grade when the projects are completed.

Earlier this year, the Glendale Property Owners Association reported to CB 5 that neighbors had complained that work was taking place at PS 113 after hours, sometimes as late as 11:30 p.m. In response, the civic group and community board filed complaints with the city Department of Building and SCA. That project includes an addition to the existing building and asbestos abatement.

At the time, the board said it hadn’t received complaints regarding the projects at PS 49 and PS 128, both in Middle Village.

No comments: