Today’s news:

Hillcrest school lot approved

The City Council has approved a 50−spot parking lot for the upcoming Gateway to Health Sciences Secondary School in Hillcrest, which could alleviate neighborhood concerns about a lack of parking in the community, Councilman James Gennaro (D−Fresh Meadows) said.

The councilman joined Gateway Principal Cynthia Edwards Friday across from the school’s construction site at the corner of Goethals Avenue and 160th Street in Hillcrest to announce the city would agree to the 17,300−square−foot lot, which would provide spaces in which 50 faculty members could park. Students would not be allowed to park in the lot.

“We’ll get a parking lot, so the community will not be overburdened by cars from the school,” Gennaro said.

He said the community already suffered from a lack of spaces due to its proximity to Queens Hospital Center.

The school, which will house 805 students from grades seven through 12, is expected to open in the fall of 2010.

Edwards said the school would have benefits for both the student body and the surrounding community.

“I cannot emphasize the sense of pride and joy we feel in the construction of the Gateway school,” she said. “It’s a dream come true. It is our desire to make sure the school becomes an integral part of the community.”

The soil at the school’s site, formerly the Queens County morgue and a refueling lot for hospital vehicles, was found by city and independent reviews to be contaminated by toxins, including petroleum, formaldehyde and toluene. In 2007, the community lobbied the city to require an intensive environmental cleanup before agreeing to the school plan.

Community Board 8 Vice Chairman Seymour Schwartz said he was glad to see the school finally coming to fruition following a long negotiation process.

“One can understand the impact of the number of students coming to this location in terms of parking, transportation and safety,” he said. “Hopefully, this [lot] portends a happy ending for the creation of the school.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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