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Borough may get two new schools: Ed Dept.

The School Construction Authority said it...

By Alex Davidson

The agency responsible for building schools announced last Thursday it is considering building an early childhood center in Woodhaven and an elementary school in Corona as part of its next five-year capital plan.

The School Construction Authority said it is pursuing a deal to purchase the now-empty Woodhaven and Corona lots in the hopes of constructing 1,050 new school seats for Queens, which has the most overcrowded schools in the city, city Department of Education spokesman Paul Rose said.

The SCA plan to buy the two land plots, initiated at the request of the Education Department, does not mean the schools will be built, Rose said. It is more of an intent or road map to eventually acquire ownership of the sites, he said.

The Department of Education’s new five-year capital plan begins September 2004.

Two of three sites slated for new construction in the city were in Queens.

The new early childhood center on the Woodhaven lot, now owned by the Diocese of Brooklyn, would sit atop an approximately 38,000-square-foot rectangular portion of the superblock bounded by 89th Avenue to the north, 91st Avenue to the south, Woodhaven Boulevard to the west and 96th Street to the east.

“This property is required to construct a 400-seat early childhood center and recreational space to help alleviate the severe overcrowding in Community School District No. 27,” according to city documents.

Community School District 27 includes the communities of Richmond Hill, Ozone Park, South Ozone Park, Howard Beach and the Rockaway peninsula.

The former hospital site, which opened in 1914 and was demolished in 2001, was operated by the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor. The site is currently zoned for residential development.

Borough President Helen Marshall, who said in December that the seven-acre plot could be used to alleviate overcrowding at area schools and help house the growing elderly population, cited the borough’s shortage of 12,000 school seats as a main reason for her long-term support of a project at the Woodhaven site.

Local civic groups, including Community Board 9, have been negotiating with the diocese for more than five years to begin construction of any proposed school.

The 650-seat Corona elementary school would be built on a lot bordered by Roosevelt Avenue to the north, 41st Avenue to the south, 99th Street to the west and 100th Street to the east. The site is privately owned and contains structures that house a metal plating business, according to SCA documents.

The potential new school site sits atop known environmental hazards, including three fuel oil underground storage tanks, leaked hydraulic oil and historic evidence that chemicals were spilled at the property, possibly affecting its concrete, subsurface soil and groundwater, according to the SCA documents.

SCA plans, however, call for environmental mitigation of the site prior to any new school construction.

Another school is slated to be constructed at a privately owned site in the Bronx, Rose said.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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