The southeast Queens community has successfully shut down a proposal to put a liquor store mere steps from Springfield Gardens High School.
The shop was set to move into a new building on North Conduit Avenue, right across the street from the high school. Councilmember Donovan Richards, State Senator James Sanders and the community rallied against the proposal and won the fight when the New York State Liquor Authority rejected the proposal in June.
“I’ve seen what alcohol can do to a child’s life,” said resident Cookie Kojak. “We want to make sure this is it and [the owners] don’t try again.”
According to state law, a liquor store cannot open within 200 feet of an educational facility. The liquor store itself, located inside the new shopping mall-style building, would have exceeded that distance.
Regardless, the site’s close proximity to a high school left the community feeling uneasy.
“The environment which [the students] occupy has to promote their development, not deter it,” Richards said.
He added that establishing a liquor store in this area is an “abomination” and doesn’t depict “who we are as a community.”
“Developing young minds and constructing them into leaders is very crucial,” Richards said.
Once the neighborhood high school’s dismissal bell rings, hundreds of students flood Springfield Boulevard and North Conduit Avenue. Officials worried with such a great number of minors walking around, some of them could wander into the proposed liquor store.
In another case, Richards said, a minor could have the opportunity to pay somebody of age to buy them liquor from the nearby site.
Platinum Realty, owners of the building, let Gurmel Singh, the hopeful liquor store owner, sign a lease to set up shop. But since the liquor authority stepped in, their plans have been squashed.
Community leaders and local officials hope to instead use the building for more educational purposes, such as a library or “some sort of tutoring center,” Richards said.
Platinum Realty and Singh did not return requests for comment.