Feb. 6, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Plans to bring a middle school to Barnett Avenue have taken a significant step forward as the city closed in on a $12.8 million purchase of the school site last month.
The School Construction Authority purchased the entire lot at 38-04 48th St. on Jan. 10, according to property records. The lot, with a gross floor area of 53,000 square feet, currently holds a vacant two-story building that was once known as the Sunnyside Community Garage.
The purchase follows a November hearing at City Hall attended by the SCA, where the middle school’s location was approved by the Subcommittee on Landmarks and Public Siting.
The middle school is expected to seat 697 students from grades six to eight in a four to five story building, according to Michael Mirisola, director of external affairs for the SCA. It will see standard school features like a lunchroom, a “gymnatorium” (a room that acts as a gym and auditorium), and rooms for music, science and the arts.
The SCA said it is hoping to fit a ground level playground at the school. The school’s overall design, however, is not yet complete.
The SCA also told the subcommittee during the November hearing that the community raised concerns ranging from preserving the current building, constructed in 1927, to incorporating some elements that have been removed over the years from the original building, like a tower and decorative brick work, in the upcoming school building.
But the SCA told the subcommittee that the current building will have to be demolished to make way for the new school due to its structural issues. Still, the SCA said it will try to incorporate the building’s old and long-gone features to the new school, and will work with a special community advisory board created just for the project.
Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) confirmed that the school will be built at the Feb. 1 Community Board 2 meeting, and that the community advisory board is starting to take shape as he promised during initial deliberations in 2016. Some members from CB2, including chairperson Denise Keehan-Smith, are part of the panel, as well as home owners who are adjacent to the upcoming school.
“We will have a new school there, but it is equally important that there’s meaningful community input.” Van Bramer said at the meeting.
Community members interested in becoming part of the special advisory group should contact Van Bramer’s office.
The school still needs to receive approvals from the city and undergo a bidding and final design process, but it could open in 2021 if everything is on schedule, the SCA said in late 2016.