By Bill Parry
The State approved a plan to build a pre-K center adjacent to the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park this week.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation introduced by state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and state Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D-Corona) Thursday authorizing the City to build the 300-seat facility in place of a parking lot near the intersection of 111th Street and 46th Avenue.
In April, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz urged the city to seek the necessary approval from the state legislature pursuant to the Public Trust Doctrine, which establishes that parks and other natural resources should be preserved for public enjoyment and that alienation of parkland must be authorized by the New York State legislature.
“Proceeding otherwise would have set a dangerous precedent,” Katz said. “The use of public parkland must go through proper channels, even by the City of New York. The action effectively creates hundreds of new pre-K seats with STEM curriculum, and it was critical to follow the proper procedure of the public trust doctrine in the interest of protecting public parkland from unfettered development.”
Peralta applauded Cuomo for signing his bill into law, which will help alleviate chronic school overcrowding that has plagued his district for decades.
“It is unthinkable that in 2017 New York City children are learning in classrooms trailers, and this is why the construction of a state-of-the-art pre-K school next to the Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park will benefit the community,” Peralta said. “We are talking about the use of one acre of parkland, which is currently a parking lot. More than 300 new seats in a space that is used for cars will now be available for children from Corona, which is one of the most overcrowded areas in the entire City of New York.”
Construction is expected to be completed in 2020.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr