By Madina Toure
Community leaders and elected officials applauded the city’s decision to scrap plans for a high school inside its building at 30-48 Linden Place, while the city Department of Education said it is considering putting programs for high school students at the site.
After receiving confirmation in July from DOE staff that the site would be used for a high school for more than 450 students, City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) met with City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña to express his opposition to the proposal due to student safety and traffic congestion concerns.
At the meeting, Fariña told Koo the plans to build a high school would no longer go forward. Koo’s office received written confirmation from DOE staff.
Koo made the announcement at a news conference in front of the building last Friday afternoon, along with state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing); Arlene Fleishman, president of the Mitchell-Linden Civic Association; and Chuck Apelian, first vice chairman of Community Board 7.
“Maybe the chancellor realized this is not a good place to put a high school,” Koo said.
The DOE said the site has been mixed use for some time and currently serves high-school aged students and that the proposal is not expected to be a radical departure from the site’s current use.
“We are still finalizing the proposal, but it will likely combine offices serving administrative and training functions with instructional space,” Toya Holness, DOE’s deputy press secretary, said in a statement. “We are continuing to work closely with the CEC (Community Education Council), families, community members and elected officials to finalize a plan.”
The building is currently occupied by School District 25’s administrative offices and an Alternative Learning program.
The scrapped plan marks the second time since 2007 the DOE has sought to transform the site into a high school and the second time the community has opposed the plan on the grounds that the site is inappropriate.
Stavisky noted that there are already two public schools on 31st Road—PS 214 and PS 242—and that Linden Place is narrow. She criticized the DOE for previously stating it does not have to go through the public engagement process since it owns the building.
“That is the wrong attitude and I’m glad they reversed their decision,” she said.
Fleishman, who served on the District 25 school board for nearly 28 years, said the city took over the building and gave it to the Board of Education because the developer owed roughly $7 million in back taxes.
She said the community has been asking for a four-way stop sign on 138th Street and 31st Road for many years.
“What we’re asking for in this community is honesty and transparency—we want to be consulted,” Fleishman said. “This is not a location for a high school. We’re more concerned about the safety and the proper kind of school for children.”
Apelian said CB7 is happy the DOE abandoned the plan, but it wants “ongoing transparency” in the future.
“Going forward, we want to make sure that they engage the community and elected officials in the process,” he said.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour