By Mark Hallum
A representative from the School Construction Authority vexed residents at Monday’s Community Board 11 meeting when he announced progress has been made on the construction of PS 332 in Bayside. The new school raised concerns over decreased property values and aggravating already congested traffic conditions.
About 50 people attended the meeting.
Construction on the controversial school, which will have 468 seats in a four-story building containing 20,000 square feet, began in the summer of 2015. The SCA has projected the school at 210-07 48th Ave. on the former Keil Bros. property will be completed by next September. It is supposed to relieve overcrowding at PS 31, 41, 159, 162 and 203, which are operating at more than 100 percent of capacity.
What started as spirited display of progress by SCA Director of External Affairs Michael Mirasola became an acrimonious meeting in the MS 158 auditorium at 46-35 Oceania St. when the residents began voicing grievances. One resident complained about the building cast houses in permanent shadow and rendered adjacent homes “unsellable” due to the proximity of the facility.
“There is no such thing as a perfect school,” Mirasola responded. “We have to make concessions and sometimes there is a shadow. Every building we build, there is a shadow. It’s regrettable, but it’s just a fact of life.”
One Baysider admitted the school was an impressive and large building, but it did not fit the character of the neighborhood, which led to applause. A woman who spoke up said her understanding was that the original plans called for a two-story structure and she was now seeing the building grow to four floors. Mirasola said he was not aware of any changes in the plans from a two- to a four-story building.
The discussion turned toward the negative impact the school will have on already clogged residential streets, and a Bayside father said that while his children will be attending the school, construction alone is affecting traffic as workers move cranes and other heavy equipment on Saturdays to meet the September 2017 deadline. There was concern at the meeting that construction may fall farther behind, leading to this kind of activity taking place on Sunday as well.
In other CB 11 news, Steve Newman, a board member for more than 20 years, has turned in his resignation after moving to Florida.
Councilman Barry Grodenchik’s (D-Oakland Gardens) legislative council, Steve Behar, said an effort to co-name a stretch of road near Union Turnpike and Bell Boulevard after the late Father John Murray has been revived.
Murray was a parish priest at American Martyrs Roman Catholich Church at 79-43 Bell Blvd. for eight years. He was known to have been able to establish a connection with not only the congregants who were outspoken and active, but also with those who were less likely to reach out. He was a recovering alcoholic of 30 years before he arrived at the parish.
The plan became idle after the original sponsor, then-Councilman Mark Weprin, resigned to take a position with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. The co-naming had already passed CB 11 before Weprin resigned in June 2015, but Grodenchik brought it back to a vote to ensure that the existing board was in favor.
“Council member Grodenchik is very much in favor of this and wants to get it done,” Behar said.
The motion passed unanimously.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall