By Terri Pouymari and Henry Euler
The School Construction Authority is proposing to construct a new high school on the site of the Bayside Jewish Center on 32nd Avenue and 203rd Street. This has raised concerns among local residents who feel the site is inappropriate because of limited space and parking and traffic concerns.
The Auburndale Improvement Association supports these residents and our colleagues from the Northwest Clearview Civic Association in opposing a large high school at this site. We all understand the need for new schools. However, the SCA has chosen this site without listening to the input of those who know their neighborhood best—the residents who live there.
This method of choosing a site for a school seems to be par for the course in the way that the SCA operates. Just recently, the SCA had decided to construct a new school on the former Keil Nursery property on 48th Avenue and 211th Street, in Bayside. That property goes right up the middle of the block, adjacent to residents’ backyards. Any privacy will be gone once the school is constructed. This site is also on a busy thoroughfare with limited parking. When SCA representatives came to Community Board 11 to present their case for the site, they seemed disinterested in what the public had to say. No plans were shown for the new building and the representatives could not even give an idea of the size or type of school that would be constructed.
The SCA seems to be a world unto itself. The Department of Education does not seem to coordinate with the SCA. Sen. Tony Avella is proposing legislation that will compel the SCA to include the community and local elected officials in the process of school site selection. Our civic association supports this legislation wholeheartedly.
Many people feel that a new high school is not really needed in the Bayside area. Our three local public high schools are overcrowded because students from far-away neighborhoods attend these schools. These students are motivated to come to Bayside because their local high schools are seen as inferior and/or unsafe. Wouldn’t it make more sense for the DOE to concentrate on improving these high schools?
It is time for the SCA and the DOE to listen to and work with local residents on proposals that will affect communities for years to come.
Terri Pouymari, President;
First Vice President
Auburndale Improvement Association, Inc.