By Adam Kramer
School Board 29 and School Board 26 joined forces last week to reject a Board of Education plan to build three schools on the Creedmoor Psychiatric campus that would serve children from both districts.
The two boards drafted a resolution saying they supported school construction but opposed the schools because the community had serious questions about safety, traffic and jurisdiction over the schools. The letter was to be sent to the city schools chancellor and elected officials.
School Board 29 at first voted in favor of the resolution at its working meeting last Thursday, but the board members later changed their minds and voted against the resolution during their executive session.
“We changed our vote on Creedmoor because of information that came out from the superintendent and the public, which we didn't know,” said Leroy Comrie, president of School Board 29, during a telephone interview.
“The money is tied to Creedmoor,” Comrie said. “If we do not go to Creedmoor, we would lose the money.”
Comrie said part of the money allocated to District 29 by the Board of Education for school construction is slated for the intermediate school on the Creedmoor campus, which would be lost if the school is not built.
The Board of Education has proposed building one elementary school for District 26, an intermediate school for District 29 and a high school for the borough on 10.3 acres at Creedmoor, but the plans have not been finalized.
Margie Feinberg, spokeswoman for the Board of Education, said she did not know whether the money was linked to Creedmoor. In addition, she said it was too early to discuss money because the Board of Ed has not yet negotiated a price for the land.
SB 26 has not voted on the joint resolution, but its members oppose having three different schools operating under three separate jurisdictions. Board 26 was expected to consider the resolution at its next meeting Feb. 17.
School District 26 stretches from Bayside to Glen Oaks including the neighborhoods of Little Neck, Douglaston, Bellerose and Floral Park. School District 29 covers the southeastern Queens neighborhoods of Queens Village, Cambria Heights, Hollis, Springfield Gardens and St. Albans.
The joint letter said that after consulting PTAs, president's councils, community-based organizations, clergy and the business community, the school boards wanted to show support for their combined communities, which have voiced their opposition to the plan at public hearings.
One of the arguments in favor of building schools on the Creedmoor property is that the land is one of the few open parcels left in northeast and southeast Queens.
On the other hand, the two school boards want the schools to be located within the boundaries of their respective communities. The Creedmoor property falls within School District 26.
Both communities have been in an uproar since the first public hearing held two weeks ago at MS 172 in Floral Park to discuss the conversion of the 10.3-acre section of Creedmoor, which is bordered by the Cross Island Parkway, Commonwealth Boulevard and the Grand Central Parkway.
The communities have been concerned about who will run the schools, the effect of 2,500 children descending on their neighborhood, the problems of busing children from southeast Queens to Creedmoor, the safety of the children, traffic problems caused by the increase in cars and the stigma that the name Creedmoor has throughout the city because it is the home to a state psychiatric hospital.
SB 29 has suggested several sites within its jurisdiction, where schools could be constructed: between 108th Avenue and 109th Avenue on Merrick Boulevard, Roy Wilkins Park, 176th Street and 115th Avenue and 143rd Avenue and 229th Street.