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Community Board approves SCA plan to build middle school on 48th Street/Barnett Avenue

Former garage (proposed school site)

Proposed middle school site

Nov. 4, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan

Community Board 2 voted overwhelmingly to approve a controversial new middle school in Sunnyside last night.

In a majority vote with only two members opposing, the Community Board approved the School Construction Authority’s proposal to build a 600-seat middle school at 38-04 48th Street, at the site of the historic Sunnyside Community Garage.

The proposal that the board approved however was lacking in design detail. The SCA did not provide any details as to how tall the new structure would be nor whether the historic building or its character would be preserved.

With so many unknowns, the Board’s approval came with five stipulations:

  • The board is to part of the design process in an advisory capacity
  • The school is to be zoned for District 30, particularly with preference for students living closest to school
  • The SCA incorporate the historic building designed by architect Clarence Stein in to the new design
  • The SCA build a school that is historically and architecturally consistent with the surrounding Sunnyside community.
  • The request for proposal (RFP) include at least 50 percent of bids coming from firms that specialize in architectural preservation, and that all bids include in the plan an alternative for preservation of not just the façade, but also the entire building.

In a rare move, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer spoke before the vote and asked the Board to approve the project, speaking of its necessity to the community.

Building today

Building today

“I am calling on the School Construction Authority to build this school, to make sure we do the right thing for the children of this community. And I am also asking this Community Board to vote for the school,” he said, though he did note the concerns of the community should factor in to the design.

The concerns dealt mainly with the preservation of the existing building, the unknown size of the new school building and traffic congestion.

“Make no mistake. We get opportunities to build schools and to educate generations of children just so often, just so frequently. We have that moment here within our grasp, and I believe we should take this opportunity,” he added.

The last time Van Bramer asked that the Board to vote a particular way was when he spoke in favor of the Queens Boulevard redesign in June 2015.

Many community members also shared thoughts on the plan, with opinions ranging from strongly in favor to strongly against.

Sunnyside resident Meridith Maskara quoted Clarence Stein as saying, “The house itself is of minor importance. Its relation to the community is the thing that really counts.”

“We’re talking about a forgotten dilapidated old building that has been forgotten for years on a street that’s dark, without any surveillance, and our kids have to walk over Northern Boulevard to catch a bus to go an hour to their middle school. That’s what we’re trying to save here?” she said.

She also refuted several arguments she had heard, including that a school would bring in big business and kids hanging around would cause trouble. She said that the school would in fact foster local business, and that the children are already a part of the community.

“Please vote for the future of this community, don’t vote for the past. Think about those kids over there and what we need to do for them,” she pleaded.

Other community members also spoke in favor of the proposal, including several middle school students who said they wished the new middle school was built in time for them to attend in their own community.

However other members of the community maintained doubts about the project.

Sunnyside Community Garage in its prime

Sunnyside Community Garage in its prime

“My issues are that we have too many unanswered questions,” said Board member Stephen Cooper, explaining that despite his trust in Van Bramer he had trouble supporting the project.

“What I am being asked to do, and members of this committee are, is to vote on promises without information,” Cooper said, referring to how the SCA claims that it will try to preserve the history of the building yet provides no guarantees.

“The SCA has done a fine job in many places. They have also done a horrible job in some places. You heard some of the horror stories. As much as I don’t mean to oppose our councilman, I personally have to oppose this project because we have not gotten the information that we have been begging for since they first came to us with this project.”

Other speakers voiced concerns over construction disrupting the neighborhood, the unknown scale of the building and preserving the historic Stein building.

The final vote tallied at 34 in favor of the school and two opposed, with one abstention.

The public comment period on the location closes today, sending the project in to the next planning phase.

However, SCA representative Michael Mirisola said that there is still a long road ahead.

Once the project is fully approved, it still needs to be put out to bid, and the design process takes about a year and construction can take up to two years. Mirisola said that if everything is on schedule, the school could open in 2021.

Children were at last night's meeting advocating for school

Children were at last night’s meeting advocating for school

 

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84 Comments

Anonymous

Who owns the property where sports authority is located? How do you assume its available for a school to be built there. Besides no one would want their kid on northern, stupid little carlos might run into traffic.

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Anonymous

The same topics have been discussed above. There are several locations that were discussed and considered by the SCA, the sports authority is one of them. The SCA would not comment at the meeting about why that property wouldn’t work. There are also several other properties listed in the public SCA proposal. This is all about $$$ at this point.

Regarding the northern location. There are two schools within a mile on northern. A primary school and an intermediate school. The sports authority has many advantages including the size of the property could eliminate access from northern but the concerns about safety are somewhat mute given the other schools on northern. It’s been done.

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Ashame

All you people who are in favor of the school, have you seen what is occuring on the Upper West Side righ now???? The city has taken control of the school and doing whatever they want in terms of zoning. Anyone that thinks this isnt going to happen in our neighborhood is crazy. Please look for your self by googling “Upper West Side and Rezoning”.

The naviety of the “supporters” of this project is so profound. The city will end up doing whatever they want as it relates to zoning and the structure/size/design of the school.

The supporters are so blind to the problems that will occur from this school it is absurd. You are looking for a school at all costs but are so under educated on what will ultimately happen.

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Anonymous

I am actually really disappointed in the Sunnyside Post for this article. I was at the community board meeting that night and this article does not fairly represent the views that were presented at the meeting. It does however highlight the statements of JVB who only stayed for the beginning of the meeting and did not seem to want to hear what the rest of the community had to say. It’s also really disappointing to find out that my “neighbors” on the board are not actually my neighbors in close proximity to the school with the exception of the few. It’s incredibly disheartening for those of us that have aimed to make this community better, those that have invested a lot into rehabilitating the exterior of our homes and cleaning up the neighborhood. You people had so many problems with the unknowns surrounding the Phipps development, the Aluminaire House, among others but feel its ok to subject our closest owners to the largest construction project in the neighborhood with absolutely no design or concrete plan????? How does this make any sense? This has nothing to do with a school, absolutely nothing!

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Outsiders Voting on our Backyard!!!!

I agree. This article sorely misrepresents what actually occured at the meeting.

The compositon of the “board” is so flawed as it relates to this specfic project. Over half the people on the board don’t actually live in Sunnyside. Look for yourself- a huge portion of the board lives in Long Island City or in Woodside. Of course they don’t care what happens in our backyards.Sure, send your kids to our neighborhood and keep your existing neighborhood as it is.

Again, find another location that doesn’t upset a huge contingent of people. SPORTS AUTHORITY.

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FU

Why should stop n shop let some teacher who probably lives on long island use their parking lot. Thats just stupid. Screw that.

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Woodside Mom

Isn’t it the case that this is a piece of private property that the owner could have sold or converted for many other uses (and could have demolished the existing building without too much hassle, since I don’t believe it is landmarked?) Instead the neighborhood will get a badly needed school that local 11, 12 and 13-year old children can walk to. And, incidentally, public schools operate only 50% of the calendar year (180 days) whereas anything else put on this site could have conceivably operated seven days a week. As for parking, might I suggest that the school’s administration and/or UFT rep talk to the management of the nearby Stop&Shop mall about the possibility of using their rooftop parking, which is notably underutilized during the hours school is in session. I think a small school such as this would probably only have 45-55 employees (total) and not all of them would drive to school.

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Sunnyside Love Me Long Time

Because Stop & Shop isn’t going to take on the insurance liability of running a public parking lot. All that street parking over there is going to be converted to school usage like it is near the elementary school on 40th Street and 43rd Avenue. They even park on the sidewalk there.

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Anonymous

The SCA will claim it to be a small school and then in reality a school that is build for 600 kids will actually be 900+. If you look at the capacity issues in the NY public school system, a bigger school and property is actually required. This is a huge issue people because they will either build way up, or stuff the school like sardines. Awesome plan.

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True Speak

Woodside Mom- I hate to point this out but you are a prime example of the naivety of the people who want to build this school without fully thinking through the problems and real world implications . You dont live in the real world and know how things operate hence why you are blindly supporting this school.

The fact that you think a private business is just going to let 50 parking spots be taken over by a neighboring school because they are not being used by their customers is insane. You don’t live in the real world and neither do the supporters who blindly want to build a school without having solutions for the inherent problems.

Let’s build the school in woodside so all congestion, foot traffic, loitering, decreased property values and such can be in your backyard, not mine.

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sunnysider1975

The whole idea stinks. Find another place to mess with. Tear down that place and make it useful to all residents.

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Southside is a slum

I hope property values drop there , if so ill look to buy right by the school. I dont drive so no problem for me with parking, and im at work during the day so no problem there. I dont have to deal with bratty kids. Drop ,value , drop!!!!

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Anonymous

If Clinton gets in that means this stupid mayor will get a second term which will completely ruin our city . SUNNYSIDE GARDENS RESIDENTS get used to the smell of pot because this school will bring a lot of this

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Y

Will that nightclub across the street b able to stay open? Wil the garden be torn down to put traulers in once it’s overcrowded?

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it aint so bad

Can someone please name me a neighborhood in NYC that deteriorated after a school was built?

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Anonymous

Read about it yourself. Schools bring property values down because fewer people want to live near them. People love children but they love them more out of earshot.

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it aint so bad

Before i published my last comment i did in fact go on the .gov site and reviewed schools that were built and the influence & social impact it had on the neighborhoods. Every single school encouraged positive growth in all sectors from business to lower crime. Let’s not get caught up in fabricated assumptions by the negative few and have responsible & well-grounded comments.
Thank you

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it aint so bad

And another positive note about the school, resident of Sunnyside can go back to the school for evening classes & finish up their high school diploma. It will help them to better understand complex matters.

Anonymous

Like so much else that has happened lately the people who live right here are being ignored. When we express opinions newcomers snidely dismiss them. Its a terrible way for them to enter a long standing community and practically guarantees a bitter fight. There were no bitter people up in arms until this place was labeled “cool” by the well planned and professionally executed plan that brought all the newcomers en mass. I wish they would wake up from the dream engineered for them to destroy us. None of this is aimed at individuals. But it changes so many lives for the worse just so people at desks in towers in Manhattan get big bonuses.

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Anonymous

assumptions? @ it aint so bad Do you really think that going to the .gov site gives you all the information that you need to make an educated decision on this topic?

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Ok, let's play

Name another Historic District in NYC with almost 100 year old private homes that faced intermediate school construction of this size directly next door…?

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Not a Buddhist

Its right on the edge of the neighborhood. Besides, communities evolve. Are you not for progress and the evolution of community? Sunnyside gardens can’t remain in the 1950’s forever. Do you think it can? By the time this school is built, do you think there will be enough kids from the neighborhood to fill it? Maybe a generation will go by and it will be a rich addition to the neighborhood.

I’m not really a Buddhist, but keep this in mind :
“All is impermanent, all is without self.”

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Anonymous

This is an incredibly stupid comment. The 1950’s? For not wanting an intermediate school next to my home? This is not on the edge of a neighborhood, it borders private homes. Also, this is not a 1950’s neighborhood. Regardless, there are plenty of kids to fill schools. This school will also likely be overcrowded and have kids from other neighborhoods. Just look at the rezoning of public schools happening in Manhattan right now. People, educate yourself before you make a terrible decision.

Maybe you should be a Buddhist.

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A Buddhist.

Maybe you should just move instead of whining like a 6 year old. You live in a free country. You have choices. Exercise your freedom to choose instead of forcing others to see things your way. And your comments are not stupid, just misguided by willful ignorance and emotion.

Anonymous

And people who have given everything they have to make it nice can just walk away with nothing but shattered memories of and broken faith in an actual living community of neighbors. Neighbors who grew to know and respect each other over decades. Neighbor’s who saw people’s ups and downs and gained a deep perspective on the way a life arcs and turns through time and how a specific person deals with it for good or bad. We got a perspective on how to actually live. Now, we are all just trying to prove to each other that our lives are just like the magazines and tv shows say they should be.

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mythoughts

The expansion of PS 11, which has been under construction for over a year, and will block views of many of the apartments in Parc Plaza, has not led to a reduction in prices. In fact, an apartment with windows directly facing the construction and views that are now blocked by the new building just sold for a record price for a two bedroom without balcony in that building.

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Jason

Wow, reading some of the comments, one would think we would have a convention center or nightclub with external speakers turned up to 11 and not a school.

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Anonymous

I think most people are just venting. The school is going to be built in closest proximity to people that OWN homes. There are other properties that won’t conflict with a quality of life issue as this will for several years or more according to the SCA who suggested the school will not be finished until 2021. Why shouldn’t the people that invested in the community be upset? It’s the home owners that pay the taxes necessary for these schools to be built. The community board should be representing everyone’s concerns. No one is sharing any details and it isn’t a given that the school will be zoned for the district.

There are so many unknowns as the SCA was not forthcoming with ANY details. People are scared of the unknown and they should be. The SCA proposed a landmarked site in Brooklyn a few years ago and it was met with significant opposition and it appears they have since moved on. In Bayside the community board objected to an SCA suggested location. If you look at other current SCA proposed build sites for intermediate schools you will see that bigger properties have been suggested for the same number of kids. The community board made suggestions/stipulations to the SCA. How will this be enforced? The SCA representative suggested that the height would be roughly 50ft and 4 stories but they haven’t consulted any architects or engineers. This sounds a lot like telling the people what they want to hear. What are you going to do community board when they have to build up because you wanted to save the foundation?

It is inevitable that schools will be added to the community as they should be, we need them. If you read the SCA proposal, this school won’t even come close to adding the number of seats necessary to reduce the capacity to 100% which means it will still be an overcrowded school. Why are schools being built that won’t accommodate the number of seats needed when there are bigger properties available? Additionally, this was the one excuse that I heard regarding the Sports Authority location – That it is too big and our kids deserve to go to a smaller school. What? No, Seriously, what?

For the poster concerned about Northern Blvd. Travel less than a mile down Northern and you’ll happen upon PS 152 which is an elementary school and slightly further you will find intermediate school 145 which is zoned for district 30. These schools are clearly visible from Northern with entrances on the side streets. Anything is possible but my guess is that the Barnett Ave site is cheaper.

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Anonymous

The traffic twice a day five days a week will be a permanent reduction in the quality of this neighborhood from the day they start until the day they knock it down and build something worse. The era of a peaceful in Sunnyside Gardens is over. The architecture is preserved but little else.

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George B

You know what? You guys are all babies. There is a great need for a school in the area. The PS on the south side isn’t so terrible and hasn’t caused a lot of issues for me, who lives about a block away. Sure, the construction was a pain, but we dealt with it and got over it.

I doubt Sunnyside Gardens is gonna burn to the ground or be suddenly covered in graffiti with plummeting property values. If you don’t want to live near a school, then stop your whining and sell your property ASAP to a family who may actually WANT a school in their neighborhood for their children to attend.

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Anonymous

You have it totally backward. If you want to live in a neighborhood with a school, you should have moved to one rather than moving to one without it and setting about to torture all the people who were perfectly happy without a school there. Grown up people call your logic infantile. Infants think the world should conform to their vision of it. Grown ups look at what is and act very carefully and delicately to make it better. They do not ram themselves and their screaming needs into a quiet place and expect it to change for them. You are not only wrong and immature, you are arrogant enough about it to call other people names. You really should have been spanked much more often to teach you some respect for others.

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Anonymous

Exactly.

There hasn’t been a school of this size here ever for good reason. Just make the masses happy and find another location instead.

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You are wrong

Babies? For not wanting a six story building with 600 kids litterly put in my backyard?

Please have some consideration for what your self righteous agenda will truly do to people who live directly in the area.

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Anonymous

This is so ridiculous. Everyone in the neighborhood would rather see it be restored to a valet garage with a mechanic and car wash than a middle school. With the exception of Steve Cooper, does anyone else on the community board actually live in the gardens? Of course they were all going to vote yes thinking that JVB will actually be able to do something once the SCA has control.

Rally to find another location, people. There is still a lot of work to be done.

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Anonymous

These community leaders contradict themselves so much just to get what they want. First the building is histoic, now its old and dilapidated,all because they want little johnny, pedro, and kwong in a new building. None of the so called 5 demands/stipulations will be remembered by the time this insane asylum is built. And jvb did something hes never done before, speak before the vote. Of course he did ,he made it obvious he wanted it, but he did it once before, on the qns blvd redesign. Well, how did that work out? A mess. This is a good idea in a bad place. Its gonna be another mess at the end of the day.

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Anonymous

They should have built a nightclub/bar, like a hip hop club . Good spot for it. Near northern, trains, buses, the projects are close , highways ,missed opportunity

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Happy Camper

The NRA should have purchased the building. It would make a nice place for a Rifle and Pistol Range. It already has some off street parking and it could help make Marksmanship a popular hobby, for neighborhood youth. Now you have to go to Brooklyn or New Hyde Park.

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I miss the south side

I’m also on the fence about this. For one, it’s hard to argue against providing a school in an area that people are always complaining lacks schools. It’s also in a safe place aka. not past a bunch of desolate warehouses on northern blvd across from some projects (sports authority). HOWEVER, this will definitely affect the people in closest proximity negatively due to construction and the the daily annoyances of living in the storm path of a bunch of teens/pre-teens. I lived near the school om 47th ave and it SUCKED twice a day when you were instantly bombarded by screaming obnoxious kids with no respect for anything. So there’s that.

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Naivety at its finest

I am so disappointed in the naivety of our fellow neighbors to think this is going to turn out well for the people on this area.

The SCA is notorious for telling people what they want to hear and then just doing what they want.

To the supporters: In your fervor to build a school at all costs you have never actually stopped to think of the long term consequences this will have on the people who actually live in proximity. Sure, a school sounds great on the surface but the impact is severe and you are seriously screwing many, many people in the process who have spent hard earned money to live in this area.

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Anonymous

They just don’t care. They want what they want what they want and to heck with everyone else. These self-important people are some of the most arrogant we will ever meet. If it is good for them it is good. If you don’t like it you are bad. Period.

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True Speak

So True.

The advocates for this school are just looking at the the positives of a school but have no understanding of reality and pretend the actual issues caused by this school are meaningless. Well to many people they are extremely releavnt and the arrogance in dismissing these problems is insulting.

This will be a mess: There are no real answers to all the issues raised here on this site or at the meetings, yet you people are just being naive assuming the SCA and our local city authorities will take care of it. When has that ever worked out???

The community is going to be screwed and you are blinded by your sole mission of putting a school in our backyards.

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Ashame

JVB just cemented his legacy as the person who destroyed the quiet neighborhood that was Sunnyside Gardens.

He was so concerned about the Phipps yet approves of another building that impacts the neighborhood just as much.

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Anonymous

The Phipps lost the first battle but they will continue waging war. It was all part of the city’s plan to shove too many people into every crack and sliver of land created along the path of the LIRR, Queens Blvd., Northern Blvd. and Probably the LIE, too.

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Anonymous

Democracy is a lie in the face of Authority. It is clear most of the board just fall in line. Thank you, Steve Cooper, for presenting the neighborhood’s point of view.

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Agreed

Agreed. Thank you, Steve Cooper for actually speaking the mind of a huge portion of the community.

This has been handled in such a back room manner that it is truly disgusting. People talk about the lack of transparency and fair representation on America’s largest stage (presidential election) yet we have an example in our backyard.

For the Community Board to vote in this fashion despite the immense amount of outcry at the meeting this week is travesty and I am disgusted by it. The board should be ashamed of themselves.

Further, shame on all the people working on this in the back rooms and not apprising people that actually live directly next door to the project. I feel like we have been failed by JVB and everyone associated with pushing this through. This is going to change our community forever and not in a good way.

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Anonymous

There are far more people without children and with grown children who live here than parents with children. They are taking all the life out of the rest of the community in order to serve themselves. It is shortsighted in the way people get when they are serving their own emergency needs.

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Anonymous

Parents are pushing for it for their children. I don’t see a lot of single folks out there with banners. Or seniors. But I see parents with small children. Self-serving.

Agreed

Agreed. The people that are pushing this school don’t live on Barnett or 48th and THEY ARE BEING SELFISH for the own agenda and disturbing the community. You are seriously impacting the lives of those who have lived here for years.

It’s wrong. I would love to see a true vote of the people in the neighborhood instead of railroading this through with a few loud voices who actually dont have to deal with the ramifications on a daily basis. Great, send your kids here and don’t deal with the resultant traffic, noise, congesions, litter.

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Anonymous

Exactly. Life in Berkly Towers will remain as it is. People who move in there know they are next to a school and a public park. People down on 39th Avenue have suffered a tremendous surge in traffic since the stores on 48th moved in. And this will create an addition tide in and out around those little houses with limited access to parking because we are up against the LIRR.

mythoughts

A lot of people in the neighborhood also supported the school. How can you claim to speak for the whole neighborhood when clearly there are neighbors on both sides?

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Anonymous

ughhhhhhhhh. can you please explain how someone indirectly lives in a neighborhood that is the size of a peapod?

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Anonymous

As if the SCA will actually abide by the stipulations after it’s approved.

Meridith Maskara…I hope you buy lots and lots of pizza to support the local business’s and the families directly behind the school once they decide it won’t be Zoned.

We still haven’t heard a good reason why the sports authority isn’t a good location. Everyone can be happy and get a school at this location. Someone please explain.

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Terrible

Good to see the community board really listened given their overwhelming vote to favor despite the serious opposition put forth during the meeting.

Going to be a mess. Welcome to declining property values, massive traffic and unwanted foot traffic from people who don’t live directly in the neighborhood.

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Sévèrine

I’m really on the proverbial fence about this one. On the one hand, the presence of a brand new middle school with a bunch of kids running around will surely imbibe, the otherwise dark and dreary corner, with some much needed new life and sunshine. On the other hand, I can’t for the life of me imagine a middle school abutting directly into the back yards of all those poor people who call much of Sunnyside Gardens their home. The construction alone would be a nightmare. That said, I’m glad they’ve decided to incorporate as much of the original design of the old building as possible and not make it look like a mini mall prison like the school they recently put up on the south side.

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mythoughts

I live next to PS 11 which has been under construction for the past year and it’s been fine, really hasn’t had any serious negative impacts on my daily life.

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Anonymous

That’s not exactly the same. Primary school and intermediary school are entirely different and not anywhere near the same size. Are you a renter?

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Anonymous

Snide comments make enemies rather than build a ground on which opposing sides can meet to come to mutually agreeable compromises.

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Dude where's my car?!

Make this into a WeWork or something cool. Middle school?! Too many raging hormones.

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Agreed

Why can’t the community just find a location that doesnt alienate a huge portion of our neighbors. Like SPORTS AUTHORITY.

I highly, highly doubt anyone would oppose this location. Think about it, everyone wins with the Sports Authority location:

School advociates = get their school
Gardens residents = get their school and don’t get their neighborhood destroyed.

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Anonymous

kids = go to school somewhere dangerous and not very easily accessible from Sunnyside… which means they will have to walk through sunnyside gardens anyways. the longer they have to trek, the more they will loiter.

mythoughts

Sports Authority is an awful location for kids in the neighborhood. It’s a long walk through somewhat desolate areas to a very high traffic and dangerous location. Not good for kids!

MY THOUGHTS

THERE ARE SCHOOLS WITHIN A MILE OF THE SPORTS AUTHORITY ON NRTHN BLVD. Stop with the dangerous nonsense. That can be figured out and everyone can stop complaining about the parking.

Sunnyside Love Me Long Time

Anonymous. There’s an subway stop for the M and the R at the corner of the Sports Authority parking lot plus multiple bus lines on Northern Boulevard. The plot of land is huge and can easily accommodate car parking, off street drop off and pick up for the school buses and a school playground. Plus, it’s a commercial district unlike this location which has a few commercial properties but is primarily residential. Sports Authority seems like a better idea. In the very least they could build a bigger school and relive the overcrowding in other facilities.

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