City approves new Ridgewood public school

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But officials from the School Construction Authority insisted the school was needed to alleviate overcrowding at nearby PS 71 and PS 81. School District 24, which covers Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village, Elmhurst and parts of Corona, is the most overcrowded in the city. PS 71 is already operating at 105 percent capacity and PS 81 is currently operating at 149 percent capacity.

PS 245, to be located at the south corner of the intersection of Seneca Avenue and Stockholm Street, will be an elementary school that will seat 400 pre-K through third graders, according to Landmarks and Citing Committee Chairman John Sabini (D-Jackson Heights).

Sabini, in a phone interview Friday, said he supported the school's construction to alleviate congestion at the three nearby institutions. He said the school is desperately needed in School District 24 which is operating at 124 percent capacity.

"Look, there are no perfect sites remaining in the city of New York to build schools," Sabini said. "The clock is ticking on this five- year plan, and the children are not getting the proper education in the district. District 24 has an acute need for seats."

According to Acting SB 24 Superintendent Joseph Quinn, the recent population boom in western Queens has wreaked havoc on the public school system in the borough. He has said that by the year 2002, his district will be 37 percent over capacity and as much as 68 percent beyond capacity in 2007.

Many teachers at St. Aloysius, which is directly across the street, say the City Council did a poor job of evaluating the site.

Sister Naomi Varrone, who has worked as the principal at St. Alosius for the last 12 years, said the location is very impractical because of its close proximity to her school and the large number of students both schools will serve.

"We do understand the crowding in District 24," she said. "What it really becomes is a safety issue and the crossing guard can only do so much. We just hope the situation will be re-evaluated from our point of view."

At a Community Board 5 meeting Sept. 20 at St. Aloysius Parish Hall, about 125 neighbors and community activists overwhelmingly objected to building PS 245 because St. Aloysius already fills neighboring streets with students, and many worried about parking and traffic.

The new school will be built at the corner of Seneca and Stockholm avenues, the site of a two-story former knitting mill factory. It will be replaced with a 43,000-square-foot building and a 4,400-square-foot playground.

The proposed school will be built on a site of about 15,000 square feet. Of that area, 10,500 square feet will be used for the school and the remaining room will be used for a playground of about 4,400 square feet. As many as 30 teachers and staff will work at the school, which is scheduled to be completed by 2003.

An environmental study by Urbatron, which completed an assessment of the site and the surrounding neighborhood Aug. 15, found there would be little impact on the neighborhood. But residents complained the study was flawed because intersections and streets were not taken into account and much of the study was done during school half days.

Anna Pirrone, PTA president of St. Aloysius, said the City Council and the School Construction Authority did not plan very well and failed to inform the parents of its impact.

"I think we were kind of deceived," she said. "They already had a plan. It's really about location. They never really considered the traffic. The stores across the street are very happy. It's good for business, but what about the safety of the children?"

Posted 7:16 pm, October 10, 2011
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