CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO
Hundreds came out to Whitestone Saturday afternoon to sign a petition asking the city’s School Construction Authority (SCA) to propose alternate sites for a high school.
Residents, after hearing rumors of a school coming to an abandoned six-acre along 150th Street and 5th Avenue, said they were upset they weren’t involved in the decision process.
The lot would not be appropriate for a school because there are no major streets and no public transportation nearby, said City Council District 19 candidate Paul Vallone.
“We must be the voice that is heard and considered first when it comes to new construction in our neighborhoods,” he said following the petition signing.
According to Vallone, almost 600 petition signatures have been collected.
Vallone, upset by the lack of information, gathered with community leaders and residents on Wednesday to speak out against the SCA’s “unilateral site selection powers,” present them with other sites for the school, and let the SCA know the community wants to be involved.
According to State Senator Tony Avella, the Department of Education (DOE) said there is no official proposal to bring a school to that location.
“I stand with the community to not use this site for the school, but [Wednesday’s] rally seems premature,” said Avella. “There’s no proposal. It’s all just rumor.”
DOE spokesperson David Pena said there has been no official decision made to place a school at the Whitestone site.
Anyone who wasn’t able to sign the petition Saturday can sign an online petition. A paper copy can also be picked up at Vallone’s campaign office at 25-59 Francis Lewis Boulevard.