The city might take legal action after two school construction officials were threatened Monday at a contentious community board meeting.
Bayside residents were enraged at a proposal by the city’s School Construction Authority (SCA) to build a 416-seat elementary school at 210-11 48th Avenue.
They said it would destroy their quality of life, worsen parking and traffic congestion and lead to dangerous crossing conditions for students.
But two attendees took it too far, said Monica Gutierrez, one of two SCA representatives who pitched the application at the May 6 hearing.
Gutierrez said a woman in her 60s approached the pair of speakers after the meeting adjourned and verbally threatened them. Someone then allegedly followed Gutierrez in a car until she pulled into an empty lot.
“She said, ‘You’ll have what’s coming to you. You’ll see,’” Gutierrez said. “When you threaten somebody, there are repercussions. They’re not above the law. They acted very barbaric.”
An older man also approached Chris Persheff, the agency’s Queens site selection manager, at the end of the meeting. The man called Persheff a liar and threatened to break his legs, according to the manager.
“I’ve done this a lot,” he said. “Usually the audience can sort of separate whatever I’m saying with the issue at hand. I’ve never had this personalized before like this.”
Gutierrez said the angry resident “tried to be all up against” Persheff. She said she grabbed the man and told him to calm down.
“It’s too vulnerable of a position to be in,” Persheff said. “It’s just unacceptable.”
Community Board 11 Chair Jerry Iannece said emotions were high, but the threats were uncalled for.
“The residents are very frustrated. They’re skeptical about what they don’t know,” he said. “But I don’t condone violence in any form. There’s no place for intimidation.”
Gutierrez said the city may take legal action against the alleged verbal assailants.
A spokesperson for the city’s Department of Education said the department is “taking appropriate action.”
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott expressed his “extreme dismay” of the fracas in a letter to Iannece. He said the community board chair “enabled this behavior by not drawing any boundaries to the abuse.”
“I would never allow anyone to be treated in this manner and would expect that you have the same standard,” Walcott said.
Persheff said he would file a police report but had no further comment.
The two residents’ identities were not known as of press time.
“We’ve been in bad neighborhoods, low economic areas, and they treat us with respect,” Gutierrez said. “Yes, they voice their minds, but they respect people.”
“It’s sad,” she continued. “These people are adults, and that’s how they are treating people. We’re just out there trying to do our jobs.”
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