Plan for new school faces opposition

March 30, 2009 3:07:51 PM PDT
A former facility for distributing restaurant foods in Maspeth would be torn down and replaced by a new high school.

"It's definitely needed, because my kids have to go outside the locality. My daughter has to take two buses, parent Niamh Deely said.

"We really invested a significant amount of money in the borough of Queens and this represents the opportunity to go a long way in relieving that overcrowding in the borough of Queens," said Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, who talked to Eyewitness News at a high school under construction in Jamaica.

The Maspeth project may be in trouble. The school would serve 11-hundred students from all over Queens. A city council sub-committee will vote next week on whether to approve a vote by the full council.

City council member Elizabeth Crowley, who is on the land-use sub-committee, said she would have to vote down the project even though she does not want to. She is not satisfied that enough preference will be given to neighborhood students.

"This school will only allow 250 students each year, and currently the kids in the neighborhood are not given opportunity to go here, the way the D.O.E. currently has the situation set-up," she said.

The Department of Education plans to give some preference to local students.

"I think it's important to say that this particular school represents an 80 million dollar investment, and we can't have an 80 million dollar investment," Walcott said.

Some adults in Maspeth do not want another thousand kids on the street.

"Everybody's under the impression, because this is what's been said, that these kids go home after school. They don't go home after school. They wander through our streets and they do cause us problems," Manny Caruana said. He is a member of the community board.

There is very strong sentiment in this neighborhood for the idea that the advantage of having a new high school that would ease school overcrowding would not be worth what opponents feel would be the sacrifice of having a new high school in this location.

Opponents point out to the existing sidewalk and traffic congestion from two nearby schools.

"We don't have any trains here. All we have are buses. There's no way of getting here. So it's just huge congestion, on the backs of the people of Maspeth and Middle Village, which is unfair," resident Anthony Nunziato said.

If the city council committee vote goes against the project, we're told the funding would be lost.

"If it does not happen, it will hurt the entire borough," Walcott said.