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Issues like parking, soil quality, and air monitoring are keeping Jamaica and Jamaica Estates residents from supporting a city plan to build a high school on Queens Hospital Center’s campus, Community Board 8 members told School Construction Authority (SCA) officials recently.
Ten members voted unanimously against the school’s construction at a recent public hearing on Thursday, April 12, and will recommend that the full Board vote against the project.
Without changes to the current plan, the Board will then likely pass along the negative recommendation to the Borough President’s office after voting at their meeting on Wednesday, April 18.
A particular issue of contention with local residents was the parking study conducted by private consultant Urbitran, which found that 64 percent of spaces were available up to a half-mile from the planned school, located on Goethals Avenue between 160th and 162nd Streets.
Residents and local politicians blasted the survey as fundamentally flawed, based on the times that were surveyed and the overlooking of “human nature.” Employees of the school would not park as far away as Main Street to walk to work, but rather circle a few surrounding blocks close to the school until a space opens up, said State Senator Frank Padavan. Residents called on school officials to offer free parking for teachers and staff to reduce a potential parking problem.
Several of the community board members in attendance said that they might support the school’s construction, so long as the soil brought in by builders would be the highest quality, according to state standards and not those used in the city, which allow higher levels of carcinogens to be present. In addition, community members called for an air-monitoring device to be placed inside the school to make sure that the air is safe for students.
SCA official in attendance agreed to consider both of these requests, but continued to defend their choice of soil for the site. Community members even suggested an alternative site - on Creedmoor Psychiatric Center’s campus - and asked that the SCA look against at reducing the scale of the school, which will seat 800 students - 300 more than at the current Queens Gateway to Health Sciences Secondary School.
“Every reasonable request has been denied,” said Councilmember James Gennaro. “They’re playing us like suckers.”
Speaking in defense of the school was English teacher Shree Parsan, who works at the existing Gateway School, which will be replaced, and called conditions there cramped.
“We are not your typical Queens High School students. We are the future leaders of America - future doctors, lawyers, businessmen and women,” he said, asking board members to give the new school site their approval.

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