Thursday, July 30, 2009

School Construction Authority Banks on Site for Future School

City Acquired Ozone Park Property at NYRA Auction

By Patricia Adams

As part of the recent Aqueduct land sale of vacant lots in the Centreville area of Ozone Park, the School Construction Authority has purchased two lots which according to sources will be “banked for future use.” Residents began calling the office of Councilman Eric Ulrich last week when they noticed work crews around the parcels of land cleaning and fencing in the property.

“While I recognize the need for more school construction to alleviate overcrowding, I do not believe this site is an appropriate location for a school of any sort. I will, however, continue to monitor this very closely and work with CB 10, local civics and residents,” said Ulrich. “We will work with the city and SCA to ensure that what may be an eventuality will be subjected to intensive community review.”

The councilmember noted that no school construction at the location is included in the five year capital plan enacted with the passing of this year’s budget.

Chief Administrative Officer for NYRA, John Ryan, stated that NYRA sold the lots to the city, and a review of ACRIS property records show the deed transfer for both lots filed on July 1, 2009. The sale price for the property was listed at $4.2 million.

State Senator Joe Addabbo told The Forum he’s grateful that the SCA is cleaning and securing the property but that the land sale is of obvious concern to the surrounding community. “We may very well see a school here in a few years down the road. If it’s a middle school it would serve to alleviate crowding at MS 207 as well as MS 210,” said Addabbo. “If in fact it will be used as a high school then it would serve to take some of the burden off John Adams.”

Elected officials agree that one focal point of the project is to make sure the community can live with the design plan that will be used when the project comes to fruition. “While I understand that the community has expressed the sentiment in past discussions that they would not necessarily be supportive of a school in the area,” said Addabbo, “it is important to look at the other options that could have been assigned to the same parcels of land.”

Addabbo maintains that an alternative construction project such as residential or retail would have put an additional strain on services especially in an area where sewers are already a concern and traffic problems abound.

According to a spokesperson for the Department of Education, Will Havemann, “The Aqueduct property was acquired on June 24, 2009. The Department of Education has not yet determined how the property will be used. As with all properties we acquire, we'll gauge the needs of the neighborhood and work with the community to make sure we put the property to its best use.”

The tract of land lies off the Conduit on Albert Road between Huron and Raleigh Streets.

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