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Proposed high school at Bayside Jewish Center not happening: SCA

The Bayside Jewish Center is on 32nd Avenue between 203rd Street and 204th Street.
Photo via Google Maps

Updated Nov. 25, 10:07 a.m.

The proposal to build a 730-seat high school at the former Bayside Jewish Center will not be moving forward, according to the School Construction Authority (SCA).

“Unfortunately, we have been unable to reach a consensus with Bayside residents and local elected officials on our proposed development site for a new high school in their neighborhood,” SCA President and CEO Lorraine Grillo said in a statement Tuesday announcing the authority’s decision. “The proposal will not be moving forward, however, we remain committed to addressing overcrowding communities face.”

One of the earliest critics of the plan following its announcement in May, state Senator Tony Avella, welcomed the news. He thought the proposal shouldn’t have gone this far but the reversal demonstrates how powerful the community can be when it speaks out, adding that his office has already communicated with the Department of Education on their willingness to help find a more appropriate site.

“This was a terrible proposal for the beginning,” Avella said. “It took us a while to line up support from the other elected officials, but I’m glad the community won the battle.”

Bayside resident Chadney Spencer—a vocal opponent to the proposal who has two young children attending schools in the area—said that the change in plans is due to efforts of the community and elected representatives.

“We look forward to working with the SCA in choosing a site together that is most fitting to the needs of our greater community of northeast Queens,” Spencer said.

Councilman Paul Vallone said that he is proud that the application will be withdrawn as a result of the unified opposition. Vallone sent a letter to Grillo last week expressing his opposition to the plan and asking the SCA to rescind the contract with the Bayside Jewish Center.

“My fellow Council members stood with me in their opposition which left the SCA with no alternative course of action but to withdraw from their proposal,” Councilman Vallone said.

Congresswoman Grace Meng and Assemblyman Edward Braunstein also expressed their approval of the withdrawal.

“Scrapping plans to build a new high school at the site of the Bayside Jewish Center is great news for the community,” Congresswoman Meng said.

“I am extremely pleased that the SCA listened to the concerns of Bayside residents and members of Community Board 11, as well as those raised by my colleagues and I, and has decided not to move forward with its ill-conceived purchase of the Bayside Jewish Center property,” Braunstein added.

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