Councilman Paul Vallone has sent a letter to School Construction Authority (SCA) President Lorraine Grillo requesting that the agency rescind its contract with the Bayside Jewish Center and effectively halt its plan to put a 730-seat high school in the site of the former synagogue.
According to aides in Vallone’s office, the letter—which was dated Nov. 19—was sent following a phone conversation between the councilman and the SCA head.
“Pursuant to our conversation, I am once again respectfully requesting that the School Construction Authority (SCA) rescind its contract with the Bayside Jewish Center,” said Vallone in the letter.
In the document, Vallone says that the community is strongly opposed to the proposal for the school and notes that Community Board 11 recently voted against placing it in the 32nd Avenue building. He also says that other council members have already expressed their support in opposing the plan and will stand with him at future committee hearings.
Vallone writes that what he ultimately does want is for the SCA to begin a new site selection process to place a school in northeast Queens.
In some ways, the letter is a reversal of some aspects of Vallone’s previous stance on the issue.
As reported by The Courier in May, the councilman was initially supportive of the effect that the new school would have in relieving overcrowded schools in District 26 although he acknowledged that his office would need to work closely with the SCA to minimize possible impacts on the surrounding community of single-family homes.
Vallone then hosted a series of meetings with community stakeholders and SCA reps, during which he once said that he believed it was unlikely the plan would be reversed as the SCA had already entered into a contract with the Bayside Jewish Center.
Following the feedback received in these meetings, the councilman introduced two bills aimed at improving the school site selection process.