Oct. 13, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
Parents have discovered a City-owned lot that they believe would be perfect for a new middle school, so they are urging the Department of Education to grab it before developers do.
The lot lies on the corner of 37th Avenue and 48th Street, near a shopping plaza. With a few small buildings and some apparent storage usage, the 125,000 square-foot lot is owned by the Department of Transportation, according to City records.
The Sunnyside Woodside Middle School Project will hold a rally there on Sunday at 2 p.m., to bring attention to the property and continue their call for the DOE to build a new neighborhood middle school.
Sunday’s rally will be a family-friendly event with balloons, group photos and live children’s music.
“I’m just trying to bring awareness of this site in the community before it gets snatched up,” Deb McGowan of Sunnyside Woodside MSP said. “We’re saying, ‘hey, build here, we got the land – don’t give it to a developer.”
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who visited the lot on Tuesday, called it “ideal for a middle school.”
“We’re lagging behind in middle school seats, particularly here in [School District] 30, so I’m out here to support the parents who have been pushing so hard for this,” he added.
Sunnyside Woodside MSP was born more than a year ago with the mission to find space for a local middle school, to accommodate growing elementary school populations and combat overcrowding at I.S. 125, the middle school that currently serves the area.
A 600-seat addition is in gear for I.S. 125 to replace its temporary units. In a letter (see attached) to elected officials provided to the Sunnyside Post by Sunnyside Woodside MSP, the DOE estimated that I.S. 125 is below 80 percent capacity.
However, with two new elementary schools recently constructed (P.S. 343 in Sunnyside and P.S. 361 in Woodside) and the neighborhood’s continued development, McGowan said, “we need to build now.”
“It would be an injustice for the DOE and the School Construction Authority not to build new schools now, plan for the additional population now,” Van Bramer agreed. “I think it’s not true to say that we don’t need the additional seats or the additional space.”
When asked for comment on the viability of the 37th Avenue lot, a DOE spokesperson said in a statement, “working closely with communities is key to strengthening our schools and ensuring our students thrive. We have committed to building over 1,900 new seats in District 30 alone, and we will continue to listen to families in the district – and across the city – to help address their needs.”
Reach reporter Jackie Strawbridge at [email protected]