The City Council recently greenlit a controversial plan to build a 572-seat public school in northeast Queens, despite many voicing their disapproval within the community.
Earlier this month at the Dec. 9 New York City Stated Council Meeting, Council members unanimously voted in favor of the proposal to build a school at 24th Avenue and Waters Edge Drive in Bay Terrace. Back in June, a majority of Community Board 7 voted against building the school, with many citing overcrowding, threats of flooding and increased traffic as major issues.
Last week, Assemblyman Edward Braunstein expressed disappointment that the city did not address the community’s concerns before moving forward with the project.
“First and foremost, the community expressed concerns about environmental impacts and how the traffic increase and transportation needs will be addressed. Only after the school received approval by the City Council did my office receive an abbreviated State Environmental Quality Review, which cites ‘significant’ anticipated impacts on local traffic and parking conditions. The report draws this conclusion under the assumption that nearly all students will reside within a half mile of the school, and that 41% of students would walk to school,” Braunstein said.
During the public process, the Department of Education said that it would be adding about 150 seats to P.S. 169/Bell Academy, meeting the neighborhood’s needs for primary school seats. But the lawmaker said that the DOE and SCA failed to deliver clear answers about how the new school would affect students at the existing schools.
“When pressed about what impact the new school will have on the population at P.S. 169 and admissions priority at Bell Academy, the DOE and SCA have failed to deliver any clear answers,” Braunstein said. “Going forward, the city must fully address all of these concerns and better engage parents and stakeholders in the decision-making process related to this site. I urge the incoming mayoral administration to make strides to increase transparency in the city’s site selection process.”
The Bay Terrace Community Alliance took to social media to voice their own disappointment for a lack of community involvement before a vote took place.