Proposal for New School a Bad Idea

When is the proposal for a new school and playground not a good idea? When they are proposed for the wrong location without real community input, located on a narrow street creating a traffic nightmare, and being rushed through for approval at the end of a political term.
The proposal by the School Construction Authority (SCA) for a new school at 24th Avenue and Waters Edge Drive in Bay Terrace in northeastern Queens is significantly flawed. It comes at the end of this mayoral administration and months before a new City Council member for the district can take office.
First and foremost, SCA should put this proposal on hold until a new mayor and council member can fully evaluate whether a new school is needed in this specific neighborhood.
Only a few blocks away, P.S. 169 is already under construction, adding over 600 additional seats. I also understand that presently PS 169 has seats available.
The proposed new school site itself is on a narrow road with no parking. The street filters onto Bell Boulevard exactly at the entrance to the Bay Terrace Shopping Center, already a congested intersection.
Adding school buses and parents dropping off and picking up their children will only further exacerbate a crowded traffic situation.
The land is an historic landfill with possible underground contaminants, and may also include wetlands. These conditions should necessitate a full environmental impact statement before any possible negotiations with the property owner should begin.
Which SCA clearly will not do. The SCA can even beginning the process of purchasing this site without fully investigating these conditions is fiscally irresponsible.
The adjoining proposal for a new playground across the street seems to have been made solely to bolster the argument for the school, providing a few parking spots and a playground for the school children.
Unfortunately, the playground proposal also is short sighted for the same reasons as the school. This is the dead end of 24th Avenue, again creating a dangerous traffic situation for future park users.
Given its proposed location, a deserted dead-end street with little to no visibility, it can only become a potential late-night hangout.
I applaud the inclusion of $20 million in the city budget for construction of this playground, but not its location.
A much better location is nearby Little Bay Park and Fort Totten, which is much more accessible to residents of Bay Terrace and surrounding communities. That site has a large parking lot and a wonderful comfort station and is accessible by city bus.
Parks officials have long sought additional funding for Little Bay Park and Fort Totten. The $20 million would be a boom for both parks and create a more utilized and safer new playground.
Another reason against the proposed playground location is that although the lot on Waters Edge Drive and 24th Avenue is parkland, it currently is and has been for decades used by the Bay Terrace Country Club as a parking lot for the pool club. Taking away this parking lot would doom the club. The club has stated it has a 99-year lease on this property and obviously would contest the lease being vacated.
The club has been a great resource for Bay Terrace and Queens for over six decades, and it would be a tremendous loss for everyone if should have to close because of the loss of parking.
In addition, in the middle of both sites is a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sewage pumping station with facilities underneath and on the street and sidewalk.
I understand that only this week was DEP made aware of these proposals. Did no one bother to check what issues are present on these sites? Does it make sense to build a school and playground immediately adjacent to a sewage, odor producing, pumping station? Of course not!
For all of these reasons I oppose the new school and the location for the playground.
What should be done, and done immediately, is to put the school proposal on hold until a new mayor and council member have a chance to review its location and its need in this neighborhood.
The SCA should work together with local elected officials, the community board and residents to find an appropriate site that would better serve the children. SCA should turn away from dictating its proposals to working and collaborating with stakeholders.
The proposed playground should also be given a second look and relocated to Little Bay/Fort Totten. Let’s build the playground where everyone can enjoy it and at the same time allow the pool club to continue to serve the community.
To join with me, sign the petition.

Tony Avella is the Democratic candidate for the 19th District in the City Council.

LIRR issues

Dear Editor,
Besides the noise from work at the Bayside LIRR rail yard (“Another push to shut down work at Bayside Yard” – July 28), there are also ongoing problems at the Bayside Long Island Rail Road Station that impact several thousand dally riders.
I give the LIRR full credit for installation of new concrete ties and ballasts. This will insure a safer and more comfortable ride. They have also recently completed repairs to sections of the westbound platform edge.
However, there is still other significant outstanding maintenance and repair work to be done.
The original wooden support beams for various sections of the canopy have deteriorated. Pigeons have moved into the rotting bottom section of the westbound canopy stairs roof.
Other portions of the canopy roof are also in need of repair. The metal structure supporting the overpass connecting the east and westbound platforms has begun accumulating rust.
There is also a hole in one of the eastbound staircases.
Why does the LIRR allow these issues to grow even worse? When will the necessary repairs to these structural deficiencies be dealt with and completed?
Larry Penner
Great Neck

Another push to shut down work at Bayside yard

Bayside residents have had enough of a yard the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) has been using as a “temporary” staging site for overnight construction work on the Port Washington line for the at least the past six years.
Neighbors of the rail yard say they are often woken up several times a night by the work and loud diesel engines pulling in and out of the yard.
In addition to the noise, residents contend the site is being used to store flammable chemicals and other potentially hazardous materials.
“This is not a safe situation for any of us, it’s beyond inappropriate,” said Karen Digiacomo, who lives next door to the yard on 217th Street just south of 40th Avenue. “All of this has been done with complete disregard for us. We have been more than patient.”
Digiacomo said if the LIRR fails to take action, her and her neighbors have discussed filing a class action lawsuit.
Stephen Panagiotakis moved to his house on 218th Street next to the yard one year ago with his wife and two small sons. The overnight noise is a nuisance, he said, but so are the trucks entering and leaving the site all day long.
“There are trucks barreling down 40th Avenue,” he said.
Tony Avella, the Democratic nominee for City Council, said when he was last in office as a state senator in 2018 he spoke with LIRR president Phillip Eng about the issue.
“Eng promised to reduce activity, but now it’s worse than ever,” Avella said at a rally with residents on Monday calling on the LIRR to end activity at the site.
Assemblyman Ed Braunstein said he also sent a letter to Eng and the LIRR about the issue in 2017, suggesting the agency find an alternative site for the staging work. He suggested moving the operation to Willets Point, a far-less residential area mostly surrounded by Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. He followed up again in 2019.
“The people in this neighborhood have been tortured by the Long Island Railroad for long enough,” Braunstein said earlier this week. “People do not deserve to live like this.”
Representatives from the MTA and LIRR did not respond to requests for comment.
While the LIRR has been unresponsive in the past, Avella said this time around they might have an ace up their sleeve. On Sunday night, Avella said Senator Chuck Schumer called to congratulate him on his primary win, and asked if there was anything Schumer could help with.
Avella mentioned the issues at the Bayside yard, and Schumer said he would reach out to LIRR officials to discuss the matter. Avella said Schumer’s help is important because many train operations are overseen by federal agencies.
“Having the senate majority leader on your side is a big deal,” Avella said.

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