By Jeremy Walsh
After a monthsâˆ’long debate with the city and much controversy over issues of overcrowding and traffic congestion, Community Board 5 offered a conditional recommendation of a plan to build a new high school in Maspeth, turning the issue over to the City Council for a final decision.
The board voted 33âˆ’8 in favor of the proposed 1,100âˆ’seat school at 74th Street and Grand Avenue, assuming their requests for local zoning and other concessions are met. It remains unclear how many of their demands the city Department of Education will acknowledge.
The school plan was scheduled for a Council landâˆ’use hearing Wednesday, but was pushed back two weeks to allow more time for negotiations with the DOE, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley’s (Dâˆ’Middle Village) office said.
Crowley said she warned the agency that the project would not get her vote if it did not incorporate some of the community’s requests.
The DOE offered to give seating priority to students of District 24, which includes Corona, Elmhurst, Glendale, Long Island City, Maspeth, Middle Village, Sunnyside and Woodside, she said.
“I’m divided on the issue,” she said. “I feel it would be a positive investment, but … the way it is now, I don’t feel that we’re going to be guaranteed enough seats are going to go to local schools.”
Pat Grayson, chairwoman of CB 5’s Education Committee, put forward an amendment to the original resolution, offering a favorable recommendation for the project if it adhered to several demands: top priority seating for students in the PS 58 catchment area, then to District 24 students in the ZIP codes 11373, 11378, 11379 and 11385, then to students in all of District 24 and finally to students in all of Queens.
The resolution also demanded school arrival and dismissal times that do not coincide with those of the other nearby public schools and a nonâˆ’themed, comprehensive education curriculum.
Walter Sanchez, chairman of CB 5’s Land Use Committee, suggested adding a request for teacher parking, which is not included by design at any of the city’s public schools.
“You’re proposing that they do things they can’t and won’t do,” he said. “You might as well include something about the parking.”
As other board members began to ask about whether the school could be relocated to one of the alternate sites on a DOE list Holden photographed at the recent eminent domain hearing, Lydon Sleeper, Crowley’s chief of staff, interjected.
“You don’t have another shot at this,” he said. “Yes, there’s a list of other sites. I do not think that it is reasonable to expect or consider that this $80 million investment in the community will be moved to another location in a week.”
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by eâˆ’mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718âˆ’229âˆ’0300, Ext. 154.