A City Council hearing on the proposed 1,100−seat high school in Maspeth was put on hold for a month after an outcry from civic leaders opposing the plan and pressure from City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D−Middle Village).
After the school was scheduled to be discussed Monday by a subcommittee of the Council Land Use Committee, Crowley said she persuaded the city Department of Education to allow a month for discussions between the agency and parents, community leaders and the Council.
An eminent domain hearing about the proposed school site at 74th Street and 57th Avenue was scheduled for Thursday at 4 p.m. at PS 58, 72−50 Grand Ave.
“We have an opportunity to build a great school that will benefit our community and help alleviate the dire overcrowding in public high schools throughout Queens,” Crowley said in a statement. “However, by refusing neighborhood preference to local students, the DOE’s proposed plans for the new Maspeth high school do not address the infrastructure and education needs of our community.”
Christina Wilkinson, secretary of the Juniper Park Civic Association, applauded the move, but had harsh words for the DOE.
“They really tried to do this in a sneaky way,” she said. “The council calendar comes out on Friday and they stuck it in for Monday. Who’s really going to be able to go? I guess now they realize they can’t do it that way.”
Community Board 5 and civics like Juniper Park have warned the current plan would overwhelm the surrounding residential community, did not offer priority enrollment to students in the neighborhood and provided no faculty parking and no bus drop−off lane. CB 5 voted earlier this month to postpone making a recommendation on the project until Crowley met with DOE officials.
Crowley’s office indicated that the DOE is eager to move the project forward as quickly as possible.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.
©2009 Community News Group
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