The city should scrap plans to build new schools in Bayside and other parts of northeast Queens, protesters claimed at a rally on Friday.
State Senator Tony Avella organized the protest in Bayside on Friday to oppose a high school planned for the Bayside Jewish Center and two others planned for Linden Place in Flushing and the former Keil Bros. Garden Center and Nursery, which is also in Bayside.
Earlier in the year, the senator introduced a bill to require school construction agencies in highly populated areas to increase community involvement in the site selection process for new schools. The bill has successfully passed in the Senate, and is being carried into the state Assembly by Assemblyman Edward Braunstein.
“People know their neighborhood – they know what will and will not work,” Avella said. “Community boards need to be made aware of the rationale behind these decisions, what alternative options are available, and provide their own feedback.”
The proposals for Linden Place and the Bayside Jewish Center are both still pending, but construction has already begun at the Keil Bros. site.
While the rally was planned to protest all three schools, participants were particularly vocal against the proposal for the Bayside Jewish Center. Urban planner Paul Graziano said the scale of the proposed high school is too large for the plot of land occupied by the Bayside Jewish Center.
“Having a high-rise high school with 800 to 1,000 students crammed on to a single acre may work in an urban neighborhood like Astoria, but in suburban Bayside, or other parts of northeast Queens, it absolutely does not,” Graziano said.
Arlene Fleishman, president of the Mitchell-Linden Civic Association, said her group opposes the plan because they believed the area is already too congested.
“We are aware of the need for additional high school seats but the proposed site is not the right place,” Fleishman said. “This community is inundated with public facilities.”